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JavaSoft mints e-commerce tools

Sun Microsystems'JavaSoft division today moved to make Java more relevant to developers of e-commerce applications.

Sun Microsystems' JavaSoft division today moved to make Java more relevant to developers of e-commerce applications.

The company announced the Java Commerce Toolkit, a set of programming interfaces and pre-programmed modules to help Java developers build electronic commerce applications.

"The Java initiative is really working," said Jon Kannegaard, JavaSoft's vice president of software products at JavaSoft. "Java has become a complete programming environment for applications on the intranet and the Web."

JavaSoft also announced today plans to ship version 1.1 version of the Java Developers Kit in the first quarter of 1997. A beta including new versions of the Java Virtual Machine, Java class libraries, and development will be available December 9 for download from JavaSoft?s Web site for Solaris, Windows 95, and Windows NT users. The upgrade's new features are detailed in a JDK white paper.

The Java Commerce Toolkit promises to help e-commerce developers exploit Java's portability to build applications that run on multiple platforms, from credit-card sized smart cards to servers at large bank data centers.

The Java Commerce Toolkit includes:

--A Java wallet for developers to distribute to online customers. The wallet can be used to contain billing information, digital IDs, and a record of payment preferences, such as using a Nordstrom's card at Nordstrom's but using cash at Home Depot. By marketing the wallet to developers instead of directly to consumers, Sun is giving developers a chance to customize the software with their own brand identity.
-- A pre-built Java "shopping cart" applet so buyers can keep track of the items to buy while they continue to surf and total the bill before completing an online purchase.
--Five Java "cassettes" that work with the Java wallet and online merchant or bank servers to implement specific types of payment. For example, a cassette might enable credit card purchases using the emerging Secure Electronic Transactions (SET) protocol, or CyberCash?s CyberCoin digital cash for transactions less than $10, or Mondex smart card purchases.
-- In addition to the set of five pre-built cassettes, the kit provides tools to create cassettes for any kind of online transaction.

The initial set of Java Commerce APIs are scheduled to be posted tomorrow. A pre-release version of the Java Commerce Toolkit will be available for in January, with a final version due in the first quarter. The company did not announce pricing.

JavaSoft was not the only major vendor to announce e-commerce investments today Hewlett-Packard also outlined a strategy for helping users integrate a variety of technologies, including hardware, software, and service products from a number of vendors such as Microsoft, Intel, and Netscape Communications. (see related story, HP warms up with partners)