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San Francisco hails Java

San Francisco's recognition of Java bears no legislative significance but the clout of the programming language is nonetheless impressive.

SAN FRANCISCO--Known for its hills, bridges, and other physical landmarks, this city by the bay has now officially declared its appreciation for cyberspace.

San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown issued a city proclamation yesterday that designated March 31 through April 6 to be "Java Week" in City by the Bay, in honor of the Internet's leading programming language. Sun Microsystems (SUNW) persuaded Brown's office to issue the proclamation as a prelude to its JavaOne developer conference, which kicks off here tomorrow.

San Francisco typically issues a dozen or so proclamations a week to acknowledge various causes and businesses, so its recognition of Java is not necessarily something to write home about.

Still, the proclamation is a testament to the significance of the Internet to the Bay Area economy. Even more, it illustrates how a decidedly geeky technology like Java has seeped further into mainstream awareness than any other programming language. It's hard to imagine a city proclaiming, for example, a Fortran or COBOL Week.

In the proclamation, Brown even appears to take sides in the ongoing debate over whether companies such as Microsoft are harming the "pure" platform independence of Java by tying the technology to Windows.

"Whereas, 'Pure Opportunity' is the theme for JavaOne 1997," the proclamation reads, "San Francisco is proud to join JavaSoft in celebrating the common protocols and file formats and those committed to preserving the purity of Java."

According to mayoral spokesman P.J. Johnston, Brown is an avid supporter of computers, though he couldn't vouch for the extent of his knowledge about Java. Brown is currently in China.

"Mayor Brown is a strong promoter of computers and the information-based industry in the San Francicsco Bay Area," Johnston said. "He does online chat interviews regularly, and he helps kick off new Internet products in the Bay Area."

"It's all about Java," said George Paolini, director of communications at Sun's JavaSoft division. "It's about San Francisco being the cultural heart of what's going on in Silicon Valley."