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Developers warm to Java, ActiveX

As tool makers release new products that support both Java and ActiveX, the industry waits for one architecture to come out on top.

New tools just now hitting developers' desks will make building component-based Java and ActiveX business applications much simpler, and may pave the way for a clear winner to emerge between the competing architectures.

This week, a handful of tool makers announced new products for component development that build on previous releases to more fully support evolving Java and ActiveX/COM (Component Object Model) features.

Analysts say that the industry has coalesced around both Java and ActiveX as competing but viable component architectures.

On one side are Sun Microsystems, Netscape Communications, Oracle, and IBM, which have all endorsed Java as their platform-independent language of choice.

Across the aisle is Microsoft and its ActiveX framework, COM+ protocol, and assorted COM-friendly tools, such as Visual Basic.

Both component models will exist for the foreseeable future, as corporate developers and independent software vendors have already invested in development for each.

In large part, the dominance of either component model will be determined by the number of software developers who build products to make each model more useful.

Some tool makers are straddling the fence by including support for both models. This week, Haht Software debuted HahtSite 3.0, a reworked version of its Web site development and management tool, which supports both Java and ActiveX, the company said.

HahtSite applications are deployed from a middle-tier application server that can handle programs developed with any Java tool, as well with ActiveX tools. Client code can be JavaScript, Java applets, VBScript, or ActiveX controls, the company said.

The tool also works with Oracle's Network Computer Architecture and includes an Oracle cartridge.

HahtSite 3.0 is priced at $1,995. The application server is priced separately, from $7,495 per server.

Also new this week is NetDynamics version 4.0, a Java-based tool for building CORBA (Common Object Request Broker Architecture)-compliant applications.

The company claims the tool is unique because it is designed to manage the complex interactions between networked clients and Web-based, mainframe, and client-server systems.

NetDynamics uses a middle-tier application server to link clients to multiple server systems. So, for instance, developers can build a car purchasing system that lets users select a car, apply for a loan, receive bank approval, and arrange for delivery, all within a single application.

A NetDynamics 4.0 bundle including support for five developers and 25 users is priced at $14,000.

Finally, Sybase this week shipped Jaguar CTS, a component server that allows developers to assemble applications using either Java, JavaBeans, ActiveX, or C++ components using the company's PowerBuilder, PowerJ, Power++, and other tools.

Jaguar CTS is priced at $700 per server and at $135 per user.