Java cup runneth over

If you think that Java is only good for building rotating logos and flapping mailboxes, a crowd of development tool makers want to talk to you.

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
4 min read
If you still think Java, the cross-platform Web development language, is only good for building rotating corporate logos and flapping mailboxes, a crowd of development tool makers want to talk to you.

At this week's Fall Internet World trade show in New York, vendors are debuting Java tools, middleware, and server software intended to put Java on equal footing with other IS-friendly development tools for building business applications, such as C++ compilers, Visual Basic, and PowerBuilder.

Powersoft will announce a Java development tool, code-named Starbuck, designed to compete with similar tools from Borland, Symantec, Microsoft, and Sun Microsystems, but it will also include tools to make server-side Java development easier.

Starbuck, slated to ship by mid-1997, will join the company's stable of existing development tools, which includes PowerBuilder, Optima++, and NetImpact Studio. A beta of Starbuck will be posted to the company's Web site next week. The tool will look and feel similar to Optima++, according to Tina Pitts, a marketing specialist at Powersoft, and will include data-aware Java controls and drivers for Sybase databases and middleware.

While not directly endorsing Java, Microsoft will debut several products that support its competing ActiveX technology as well as Java. Expected announcements include the shipment of the Internet Information Server version 3.0 Web server and the debut of Microsoft Transaction Server 1.0 transaction processing technology for building cross-platform Web applications.

Informix Software, which already supports Java development atop its Online Dynamic Server and Universal Server databases, will endorse ActiveX technology by announcing a deal with Microsoft tomorrow that incorporates support for Microsoft Transaction Server into future releases of the database software.

The integration, to be delivered in the first quarter of next year, will allow developers using Visual Basic and other ActiveX-enabled tools to build transactional Internet applications using Informix database software.

Informix is the first vendor to announce support for Microsoft's Transaction Server. Other database makers are expected to follow suit, sources said. Informix is also considering integration of its database software with other Microsoft Active Server technologies, including message-queuing software code-named Falcon that's due to ship later this year.

Macromedia will unveil Backstage Internet Studio 2.0, a visual tool for building database-powered Web sites. Backstage allows developers to insert database objects, discussion groups, and email into a Web site without programming or scripting, according to the company.

Oracle will make a slew of announcements related to its network computer architecture scheme announced earlier this year. Sources said Oracle will clarify its overall Java strategy and will detail how Java will be integrated into development tools and server software.

In addition, Oracle will debut a new version of its WebServer, renamed Web Application Server, featuring native Java-object support. Also slated is the announcement of a beta program for the company's merchant server, code-named Apollo, and a decision-support tool called Express Web Publisher, which will let users run online analytical processing queries though a Web browser.

Sun will launch a Java branding campaign, debut a beta of its Java Beans application programming interface for integrating Java applets, and will ship a Java Beans development kit. Java Beans lets Java applets communicate with software components written in other architectures such as Apple's OpenDoc, Microsoft's Component Object Model, Netscape Communications' LiveConnect.

As previously reported by CNET, IBM will introduce several new Java tools, including one based on Java Beans called AppletAuthor, which lets Web site developers add multimedia, special effects, and live data capabilities to Web sites, and a beta version of the NetRexx programming language that allows developers to generate Java code while using the familiar Rexx scripting language.

Start-up Kiva Software will introduce the Kiva Enterprise Server Web application server software, along with a software development kit for building applications that work with the server. The server is a language-neutral Web server for hosting high-transaction business applications such as online travel reservation systems. The server is priced from $35,000 per server. The software development kit costs $995.

Gradient Technologies has introduced WebCrusader 2.0, an update to the company's software for building Java-enabled intranet applications. The tool combines the security, reliability, and central administration of client-server applications with the low cost of Web client systems, according to the company. The tool is priced by component. Server software is priced from $995; client software starts at $75.

Antares Alliance Group has announced Edge, a Web development toolset based on Microsoft's Visual Basic for Applications language. Edge allows Visual Basic developers to integrate new Web features to existing applications developed in Visual Basic and other languages. Edge is priced at $995 and will ship in the first quarter of next year.

Bluestone has updated its Sapphire/Web development tool. Version 3.0 includes features aimed at supporting network computers and includes support for Java development, along with ActiveX and VB Script. The tool is priced at $2,995 and will ship in the first quarter of next year.