Sun steps up Pure Java campaign

"Write once, run anywhere" is hard to say. Apparently, it's also hard for developers to do; they're taking to "extensions" that violate the cross-platform commandment.

CNET News staff
2 min read
Sun Microsystems (SUNW) is stepping up its campaign to cleanse Java of all impurities.

Today, the company published a paper that outlines the objectives of its 100 Percent Pure Java initiative. Announced by Sun last December along with dozens of other vendors, including Netscape Communications and IBM, the initiative is an effort to discourage developers from extending their Java applications with technologies like Microsoft's ActiveX, which works primarily on Windows.

The campaign has taken on the tone of a moral crusade, with Sun leading the charge to preserve the basic credo of Java technology, something the company encapsulates in a single slogan: "write once, run anywhere." Java was designed so that developers could create an application that runs on any platform, regardless of the underlying hardware or operating system.

However, in its version of the Java Virtual Machine, the engine that drives applets on a user's computer, Microsoft allows developers to extend the capabilities of Java programs using ActiveX, a technology that allows software objects to work with each other.

Microsoft claims that it is doing developers a favor since Java is still relatively immature, lacking support, for a broad range of fonts, hardware devices like joysticks, and other capabilities. But Microsoft's ActiveX extensions to Java have rankled Sun, and now the company wants to warn developers away from ActiveX.

"ActiveX is touted as a solution for the majority of the world's computer users, since Microsoft operating systems and applications are used in most desktop computers and a large percentage of servers," Sun's Java "white paper" says. "However, ActiveX is not a cross-platform solution, so applications developed using ActiveX eliminate all non-Microsoft users from the customer base."

In the paper, Sun describes the basic requirements for a "100 percent pure" Java program, including avoiding all native, platform specific extensions and adhering to a core set of Java APIs. Sun is also developing a certification program so it can test and approve applets.