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Java-capable QuickTime in public beta

Apple is hoping to snare Java developers in need of multimedia technology with a version of its popular QuickTime software for the Java platform.

    Apple is hoping to snare Java developers in need of multimedia technology with a version of its popular QuickTime software for the Java platform.

    Apple Computer is offering a "public beta" of QuickTime for Java, which will allow developers to write Java programs that use QuickTime content while gaining capabilities that have been missing from the Java language. With the software, which Apple first said it was going to develop in March 1998, developers can deliver graphics, sound, video, text, music, and 3D graphics to Macintosh and/or Windows-based computers without having to write software specific to each platform.

    Adding multimedia capabilities is critical to Java's growth as a programming language, and will ostensibly boost Apple's role as a provider of hardware and software for content creation.

    "The thing a developer would get with QuickTime is a mature and comprehensive multimedia technology. This is something that Java has lacked," claimed Bill Stewart, QuickTime for Java software architect.

    A small number of developers working with pre-public versions of the software agreed.

    James Gamber, owner of Microneering, a software development firm, said QuickTime offers capabilities that aren't available with other technologies. "There are some fairly new, unproven technologies like Java Media Framework, but that is in its first release. QuickTime is more mature and more stable across different platforms," he said. Java Media Framework is Sun Microsystem's application programming interface (API) for multimedia content playback.

    Gamber's firm produces multimedia training software for workers in the aerospace industry. With the software, a company can update diagrams and videos electronically, instead of replacing volumes of paper schematics every time a part is changed. By developing in Java with QuickTime, Gamber only has to write one version of his software, instead of one version each for Mac, Windows, and Unix systems.

    Apple said it expects developers to start shipping programs using the software in coming months, and that a final version will be announced with the upcoming release of QuickTime 4.0. By then, Sun is expected to start shipping a version of its Media Framework that offers video streaming capabilities for applications like distance learning, training, interactive presentations, and customer support.

    However, QuickTime for Java will be able to support Apple's own anticipated live multimedia streaming capabilities when the next version of QuickTime ships, said Stewart.

    The software is available at Apple's Web site.