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Java alive and well at Oracle

The network computer may not be living up to expectations, but Oracle's Java-based NC architecture is alive and well.

The network computer may not be living up to Oracle (ORCL) chairman Larry Ellison's lofty expectations, but the company's Java-based network computing architecture (NCA) is alive and well, company executives say.

Oracle will spend all of next Wednesday explaining to press and analysts just why it thinks the corporate world wants and needs Java-based applications.

Much of the attention in recent months has focused on Oracle's efforts to promote NCs, the thin-client terminals being pitched as PC replacements. But concern has been growing over the commercial viability of the NC scheme. Earlier this month, Oracle shares plunged more than 6.5 percent in one day after the release of a report citing weak demand for NCs.

Now Oracle is out to show that its NCA is not tied solely to NCs, but that it can stand alone as a design framework for thin-client Java-based applications for NCs, PCs, middle-tier, and database servers. That's a crucial point, since Oracle has rejiggered so much of its technology and product line to conform with the NCA. If the NC doesn't find support in the marketplace, the company will need to justify NCA on its merits as a standalone plan for building corporate computing applications.

At its Redwood Shores, California, headquarters, the company will draw its enterprise Java strategy road map for the next year, highlighted by the debut of a new Java development tool, called AppBuilder for Java, for building, debugging, and deploying component-based Java applications.

Oracle plans to make AppBuilder for Java, formerly code-named Valhalla, the centerpiece of a new generation of Java-based tools and technologies. The company plans to launch an entire suite of Java tools this year, beginning with AppBuilder. The goal is to make it easy to build Java components that can run on all tiers of a distributed business applications and to move complex business logic from client PCs to middle-tier servers for easier management and maintenance.

AppBuilder for Java combines JBuilder, a tool licensed from Borland International, with new code to integrate Java applications with Oracle's database software.

The tool includes several wizards to let developers quickly build Java applications linked to databases from Oracle and other database makers. AppBuilder is most tightly integrated with Oracle 7, Oracle 8, and the Oracle Lite databases, however.

AppBuilder for Java is also intended to compliment Oracle's Application Server 4.0 for building multitier distributed applications. Additional wizards aid in the building of Java and CORBA (Common Object Request Broker Architecture) application components for distribution via the Application Server, Oracle said.

The database giant has also integrated support for JavaBeans, Sun Microsystems' Java component model, into AppBuilder. The tool includes a BeansExpress wizard for generating new JavaBeans and for turning existing applets into JavaBeans.

Oracle plans to make the AppBuilder user interface the standard interface for its future Java tools.

The company plans to ship the production release of AppBuilder as part of a release of its Web Developer Suite 2.0, a bundle which includes its Developer/2000 and Designer/2000 tools, Oracle Application Server, and the Oracle database server.

A second release of AppBuilder for Java will include links to the forthcoming Oracle development repository, to a new tool called Oracle Business Object Modeller, and will support the generation of Java business objects, Oracle added.