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Netscape updates Communicator, Java tool

Netscape posts an update to its Communicator bundle along with the latest test version of a new Java development tool.

Netscape Communications (NSCP) has posted an update to its Communicator bundle along and the latest test version of its new Java development tool.

The Communicator update adds support for the Java Development Kit version 1.1, which lets Communicator users access Java applications that use the JavaBeans component model, according to the company. The update is posted to Netscape's developer site.

In addition, Netscape has posted preview release 3 of its Visual JavaScript programming tool, which developers can use to build Java applications designed to run across networks.

The company has dubbed this family of programs "crossware."

Visual JavaScript will provide developers with a visual, drag and drop environment for assembling JavaBeans components--small reusable chunks of Java code--into applications that run on browsers using JavaScript. Developers will need a separate Java development tool, such as Symantec's Visual Cafe for Java, to actually create the JavaBeans components.

Netscape's $495 development tool, which will ship later this year, will also allow developers to exploit other Internet technologies such as the CORBA (Common Object Request Broker Architecture) protocol and HTML in their applications.

The new preview release includes tools for building database applications more easily through a new set of wizards. The tool also allows JavaBeans and CORBA components to be imported directly to an internal Component Palette.

Netscape posted the initial beta version of Visual JavaScript in April. The tool requires Windows 95 or NT and Netscape Communicator. The company is still working on Macintosh and Unix versions.

The company first announced its intention to release a visual development tool, code-named Palomar, earlier this year. Although Netscape has gradually expanded the capabilities of its Internet servers and browsers, it has remained weak in the tools area, promoting tools from other companies instead through a bundle called SuiteTools.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has made a concerted effort to become a player in Internet tools with products such as Visual J++ and Visual InterDev.