JavaSoft: Take that, Microsoft

Sun's JavaSoft division take a swipe at Microsoft's ActiveX component strategy by posting the specification for JavaBeans two months ahead of schedule.

Mike Ricciuti Staff writer, CNET News
Mike Ricciuti joined CNET in 1996. He is now CNET News' Boston-based executive editor and east coast bureau chief, serving as department editor for business technology and software covered by CNET News, Reviews, and Download.com. E-mail Mike.
Mike Ricciuti
2 min read
Sun Microsystems' (SUNW) JavaSoft division today took a swipe at Microsoft's ActiveX component strategy by posting the specification for a competitive architecture called JavaBeans two months ahead of schedule.

JavaBeans is an API that allows software vendors to build reusable Java components that end users can then assemble into cross-platform applications. The specification is posted to the JavaSoft Web site. JavaSoft will release a preliminary development kit in December for building JavaBeans components.

The company also announced that several development tool makers, including Borland International, Symantec, IBM, and SunSoft will integrate support for JavaBeans into their Java tools.

JavaSoft executives said JavaBeans is superior to ActiveX for building component applications because it includes bridges to competing object models, while ActiveX is currently limited to Microsoft's own technology.

"Developers will have to make a strategic decision on what technology to use. Developers need the biggest bang for their buck, and they can't develop on one platform with one API," said Gina Centoni, JavaBeans product line manager at JavaSoft. "People want to take advantage of multiple platforms."

The technology will work with Java, ActiveX, OpenDoc, and Netscape Communications' LiveConnect component architectures, Centoni said. That means that components written to the JavaBeans API will work with Netscape Navigator, Microsoft's desktop applications, and Apple Computer's CyberDog technology.

Microsoft has promised bridges to competing schemes, but political wrangling has so far stymied progress in delivering the technology. JavaSoft plans to hold a developer meeting in Long Beach, California, on November 6 to evangelize the technology and to disseminate technical information.