Java is graduating from being a language for creating single-purpose applets to full-fledged applications.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) earlier this month posted an alpha version of a Web server called Jigsaw written entirely in Java. The organization will give away the server as freeware in hopes that feedback from users will help the consortium design the next generation of Web protocols.
Among the protocols the organization wants to road-test with Jigsaw, for example, is HTTP-NG (Hypertext Transfer Protocol-Next Generation), a new version of HTTP that could eventually boost the performance of Web sites considerably.
The W3C says it wrote Jigsaw in Java to make the server more extensible so that new software components, such as a protocol for serving up Web pages, can be easily added to the server. Like Java applets, Jigsaw can run on any platform that supports the Java Virtual Machine, client software now built into most browsers.
But Jigsaw also suffers from the same problem that plagues many Java applets: performance. The W3C's own benchmark tests place the server well behind the leading freeware Web server, Apache, in terms of performance. The organization hopes, however, that just-in-time Java engines now being developed by Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, and others for distributing via upcoming updates of browsers and operating systems will significantly boost Jigsaw's performance.
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