January 1998 Java News

Saturday, January 31, 1998
Frontier 5.0 has been released for the Mac and Windows. In essence this is a power user's tool for managing complicated interlocking web sites with lots of conditional text and interlocking links, mostly managed by a single person. The entire site is stored in a database, and pages are statically generated from the database. It's got a pretty powerful, non-Java scripting language built-in with templates, macros, and many other useful features. It's truly amazing, especially for free software. It's definitely worth checking out if you create sites like Cafe au Lait. I've been considering it for a new site devoted to XML and perhaps even for the New York Women Composers site.

Unfortunately the documentation is inadequate (and that's being kind). Consequently Frontier has an extremely steep learning curve (more like a cliff, really) for new users, even ones very experienced with scripting languages and web sites. To the extent that you're willing to restrict your web site to just what's been clearly documented in the tutorial, you'll be OK. However, as soon as you move off the beaten path, you almost immeditaely find yourself alone in a deep, dark place with no flashlight to light the way. Chances are pretty good Frontier can do anything you want it to do, but good luck figuring out how to make it do that. Matt Neuberg's upcoming book on Frontier 4 from O'Reilly may help somewhat when it's released.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has released the latest draft of its position paper on Technical Management of Internet Names and Addresses. Amonf other things, this paper says that the U.S. government plans to drop its 30 percent surcharge on domain registration fees that was earmarked for the "preservation and enhancement of the intellectual infrastructure" of the Internet, effective April 1. The InterNIC is expected to follow suit by reducing domain registration fees to $70 for two years.

Friday, January 30, 1998
IBM's alphaworks have updated the Java-based, remote debugger Jikes.

Several people have started suggesting quotes of the day. It is helpful, and I do appreciate it. However, if you send me a quote or other news item, please include a full citation for the quote and/or a URL. Unattributed or unverifiable quotes cannot be used.

Thursday, January 29, 1998
Sun's released the second beta of JavaMail 1.0 to registered members of the Java Developer Connection.

Live Software has released the first beta of JRun 2.1, a free package that adds servlet support to many existing web servers. Version 2.1 supports the JDK 1.2 version of the Servlet API, persistent session tracking, and a single thread model. The beta is available only as a patch to JRun 2.0 and is recommended for experienced users only.

I've updated the notes for Week 2 of my Introduction to Java Programming class, Procedural Java.

Wednesday, January 28, 1998
The second public beta of version 4.0 of Ernest Friedman-Hill's Jess, the Java Expert System Shell, is now available.

Sun's released "technical preview 3" of InfoBus. InfoBus is a mechanism for cooperating Java beans to exchange structured data such as arrays, tables, and database row sets. The final release is promised in a few weeks.

Sun's released version 0.98 of the Extensible JavaBeans Runtime Containment and Services Protocol draft specification. This protocol allows beans contained in other beans to query the container bean for the services it provides, and to use those services.

ORO, Inc. has released version 1.2.4 of their NetComponents package. This release fixes a bug in a support class for TelnetClient affecting FTPClient. It also includes the a copy of the classes in a jar archive so that Mac developers can avoid the 32 character filename limit of the MacOS.

Yesterday I found my storage vendor was going bankrupt. Today I find out that my database vendor is in play. Apple is reabsorbing most of its Claris software subsidiary. Claris will be renamed FileMaker Inc. and keep Claris Home Page and the Filemaker Pro database, but all other products will be returned to Apple including including MacOS and ClarisWorks. Apple is looking for a buyer for the newly minted Filemaker Inc. Both the mailing list directory and the Java book collection here at Cafe au Lait are stored in Filemaker databases.

Tuesday, January 27, 1998
Motorola is licensing the complete "Java platform" from Sun, whatever that means.

Mac friendly peripheral vendor APS Technologies has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It's probably another casualty of the continued implosion of the Mac market. This one hits close to home at Cafe au Lait since most of my data lives on APS hard drives and is backed up by APS tape drives. Can anyone recommend an alternate vendor that stands behind its products and understands both Macs and NT?

Monday, January 26, 1998
Minicomputers have unconditionally surrendered to the microcomputer with today's news that Compaq will buy Digital for $9.6 billion. Anyone want to start a pool on the year in which IBM gets bought out by Microsoft?

The aglets folks at IBM Japan have released the first public alpha (a3) of JMT (Java-based Moderator Templates). This is a framework for collaborative work by multiple agents.

JAD 1.4.2 is a free Java decompiler written in C++ for Wintel and Linux with a really cute, trademark infringing logo. The decompiler does not yet support inner or annoymous classes and doesn't do a great job of identifying superclasses or handling complicated loops and try-catch blocks yet either.

Cybotics is beta testing a servlet based, multilingual local (single website) search engine.

Chris Thompson's founded The Openscape Group. Right now he's making a list of people and resources who want to work on Netscape client code when it is released on March 31st.

A mailing list has been established to discuss porting the Netscape browser over to use the Gtk toolkit. To join, send "subscribe" in the body of a message to nsgtk-list-request@cuc.edu.

Bruce O'Neel's written a javac replacement for Macintosh Runtime for Java 2.0 that's more flexible in some ways.

IBM's released a new bug fix release of the JDK 1.1.4 for OS/2.

ZeroG has released version 1.0.1 of their payware, cross-platform Java program InstallAnywhere.

Sunday, January 25, 1998
As earlier rumored, Netscape is halting most Java VM development. Instead it will rely on Sun and OS vendors like Apple and Microsoft to provide Java VMs that hook into Navigator through new APIs. Java developers at Netscape were particularly hard hit by their recent round of layoffs.

Saturday, January 24, 1998
Sun's posted the second early access release of the Java Activator. This release provides Java 1.1 support for both Internet Explorer 3.02 and later and Navigator 3.0 and later on Windows and Solaris. You'll need to be a registered member of the Java Developer Connection to download it.

Friday, January 23, 1998
Sun has reorganized at the top by forming a new executive committee. Ed Zander, formerly president of Sun's computer business, was named chief operating officer, the number two position at Sun, right behind Scott McNealy. Zander will be responsible for Sun Microsystems Computer Co. (hardware), SunSoft and JavaSoft (software), service and support, Sun's microelectronics business, and research and development. Other members of the executive committee include Michael Lehman, vice president of corporate resources and chief financial officer, (finance, human resources, real estate and information resources) and William Raduchel, chief strategy officer (corporate development, long-term strategy and planning).

Thursday, January 22, 1998
Microsoft and the Justice Department have settled part of their antitrust suit. Microsoft has agreed to allow computer manufacturers to unbundle Internet Explorer from the most current version of Windows 95. This time Microsoft has agreed to do it for real, rather than offering users a choice of an old version or a dysfunctional system. This is a small victory for the DOJ. However, the rest of the suit continues. Whether or not it's a victory for consumers remains to be seen, but I find it hard to believe it could make things worse, and it might very well make them better.

Netscape has announced that version 4.0 and later of Navigator and Communicator will be free for all users. (Communicator Pro will still cost $29.) More surprisingly Netscape is adopting an gnu-like attitude to software development, and will make Navigator/Communicator 5.0 source code freely available to third party developers. The developers, in turn, are expected only to provide Netscape (and presumably others) with the source code for their modified versions and products that use Netscape's code.

This probably won't be true GPL, but it's as close as I've ever seen a major software company come. This is incredibly gutsy move on Netscape's part, but one that should really help them grab market share and developer interest back from Microsoft and Internet Explorer. Apparently someone at Netscape has learned a thing or two from the pasting Apache's been giving their server products over the last couple of years.

Microsoft has released Internet Explorer 4.0 for Windows 3.1 and NT 3.51. This release supports Java 1.0.2.

Morten Hindsholm's posted JAMACS, some rough Elisp code containing several useful Java-related functions for Emacs.

Sean Russell's released jDB 3.40, a database written in Java.

IBM's alphaworks has released version 2.0 of their PilotBean, a Java interface to the US Robotics PalmPilot's memopad and datebook programs. The PilotBean is available only for Windows 95 andNT.

Matt Strausers's $35 shareware IDE Javide beta is now integrated with Sun's jdb debugger.

Wednesday, January 21, 1998
My latest book from IDG, JavaBeans, is going into its second printing very shortly. If you've noticed any minor problems with the book (typos, etc.) please send them in so I can fix them.

Swing 1.0 is scheduled to be released in February. Here's what Sun has to say about it.

Tuesday, January 20, 1998
Sun released a new API for point-of-sale software written in Java called JavaPOS. JavaPOS is aimed at retail hardware like like cash registers and bar-code scanners.

Apple's released MacOS 8.1. Among other improvements MacOS 8.1 includes Macintosh Runtime for Java 2.0, which supports Java 1.1.3. This is a runtime only. A beta MRJ SDK that includes the compiler and other tools is available separately. An update to MacOS 8.1 from MacOS 8.0 is freely available from various Apple web and ftp sites as well as download.com.

Live Software has updated version its free servlet stress tester ServletKiller. ServletKiller stress tests servlets by sending many repeated requests. A scrolling real-time display of request time is displayed as the program is running, with red bars indicating requests that are over 500 milliseconds.

Monday, January 19, 1998
ORO, Inc. has just released version 1.2.3 of their NetComponents package. This is a bug fix release which fixes some thread priority issues in TelnetClient. There are additional bug fixes for X86 Unixes including Linux, Solaris x86, and FreeBSD.

Robert Marsanyi's JavaMidi package interfaces between Java and the host's native MIDI capabilities on the Mac and PC. It handles input and output and arbitrary-length system exclusive packets.

Scott Plante's written an ImageProducer that converts SGI RGB/RGBA images in a local file or on a web server into Java images. It's published in source format so this is a nice example of how to support additional image file formats in Java.

EOS's $299 payware FTP Java bean provides client-side FTP. It can upload, download, create and delete files and directories. An evaluation version is available. The full version includes source code.

Version 2.12 of the WingDis decompiler is now available. If you bought my book Java Secrets you can upgrade from the version included on the CD for $5.00 off.

Enliven 2.1 is a payware system that includes a Java applet that plays Macromedia Director files, no plug-in required.

Copernican Solutions has published several tools for working with SGML, XML, and DSSSL in Java including the DAE SDK for an application environment, the DAE Server SDK for a server environment, a DSSSL Developer's Toolkit, that provides Java APIs for DSSSL, and a JSPI SDK, an SGML processor written in Java.

JScheme is a Java/Scheme hybrid deloped at Brandeis University for teaching. It combines the core syntax of Scheme with the objects, methods, and lexical structure of Java. JScheme compiles to Java byte codes.

Sunday, January 18, 1998
A new release of Matt Strausers's $25 shareware IDE JavIDE fixes a few bugs.

RmiJdbc is a GPL'd Type 3 JDBC Driver that uses Remote Method Invocation (RMI) to bridge between ODBC running on a Windows NT server and Java running on the client.

Saturday, January 17, 1998
The development tools links are fixed. Right now most of the links on the left point straight into the relevant sections of the FAQ list. The eventual plan is that each of those will have a separate page, and those pages will be concatenated to produce the FAQ. Naturally this will take some time to implement, and is likely to happen in stages.

Version 1.1a1 of New Atlanta's ServletExec for Mac OS supports Apple's Mac OS Runtime for Java (MRJ) 2.0. It does not add any other new features to version 1.0. ServletExec provides Java servlet support for WebSTAR 2.0/2.1/3.0, Quid Pro Quo 2.0/2.1, AppleShare IP 5.0.2, and WebTen 1.1.1.

New Windows and Mac versions of JConfig are available and use the exact same API with nearly the same functionality. The major addition is the FileRegistry.getProcesses() method which returns a list of all the currently running processes. JConfig also allows programmers to find extended information on files, folders, volumes, and aliases: their icons, creation dates, version information, and more; enumerate the currently mounted disk drives; launch a browser with a URL or a file; identify, resolve, and create aliases; enumerate the user's monitors and get info about each monitor's settings and capabilities; create external processes and send them basic commands; convert between Windows file extensions and Mac creator/file type codes, find applications by name and file type; and access the Internet Config file mapping database.

From the the better late than never department, comes news that Sun has released a WebNFS client written in Java and a Java WebNFS Software Development Kit. WebNFS is one solution to the problem of how an applet can write files and save state on a server.

The final electronic version of Bruce Eckel's Thinking in Java has been posted. The printed book should be out from Prentice Hall in late February or early March. This version includes new sections on the Java 1.2 Swing GUI library, the new Java 1.2 collections library, new appendixes on using non-Java codeand on performance, and many corrections and rewrites.

Version 16.62 of Clemens Lahme's Jacob, an Emacs based class browser, features a new class wizard.

The first public beta of version 4.0 of Ernest Friedman-Hill's Jess, the Java Expert System Shell, is now available. Jess 4.0b1 is faster than previous versions, and includes several new features including a test conditional element and I/O routers.

Friday, January 16, 1998
Initial reactions to the new home page format I previewed a couple of weeks ago were almost unanimously positive, so as you can see I've decided to make it permanent.

U.S. Judge Thomas Jackson harshly rejected Microsoft's motion to have Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig removed as special master from the DOJ's antitrust suit. The strength and tone of the judge's ruling are somewhat surprising. I honestly expected it to go the other way given the incriminating email Microsoft had uncovered. This indicates that Microsoft is in big trouble with this judge and may very well lose the suit, regardless of its merits.

The second edition of Arnold and Gosling's The Java Programming Language is available. This edition covers Java 1.1.

Sun's announced a version of HotJava for PersonalJava. It's called Personal Web Access. It's only available to licensees though.

Thursday, January 15, 1998
Apple's released the Macintosh Runtime for Java Software Development Kit (MRJ SDK) 2.0.1 Early Release to the general public for the first time. This includes a compiler and various other development tools omitted from MRJ 2.0. MRJ SDK requires System 7.6.1 or later.

Wednesday, January 14, 1998
Michaki Tatsubori's released version 0.2.3 of OpenJava. Through the OpenJava Meta Object Protocol (MOP) programmers can customize Java to implement new language mechanisms like closures or operator overloading. OpenJava is itself written in Java 1.1, so it runs on any platform that supports Java 1.1. However, OpenJava generates Java 1.0 source code.

Tuesday, January 13, 1998
Beta 1.0 of the JavaMail API is now available to registered members of the Java Developer Connection. The reference implementation includes the core JavaMail packages, and supports IMAP and SMTP.

Sun is officially announcing three new low-end UltraSparc workstations today, ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 base price, which will probably be available in March. This is probably good enough pricing to hold on to Sun's installed base, but with Pentium II's available for about $2,000, I doubt it will gain any ground for Sun.

In an effort to sell its payware tools, JavaSpec, JavaStar, and JavaScope, Sun's SunTest division is holding a series of free seminars (a.k.a sales demos) through February titled "Secrets of Successful Java Testing". The seminar is free but you must preregister at http://www.suntest.com/seminars/. The seminar will take place on various dates through February in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Palo Alto, Portland, Raleigh, St. Louis, San Francisco, Teaneck, Bracknell, Edinburgh, Leeds, London, and Toronto.

Monday, January 12, 1998
Reto Kramer's iDoc 0.1b is a free quality assurance (QA) tool for Java that helps developers keep doc comments up to date, in sync with the code, ad in accordance with the specification.

Sunday, January 11, 1998
Sun's released the first beta of the Java Cryptography Extension 1.2 to registered members of the Java Developer Connection.

Saturday, January 10, 1998
Someone or something at Microsoft appears to be scanning the entire IP address space, at least large parts of it. Webmasters have begun to notice hits on non-public servers, apparently coming in increasing IP address order, from "tide*.microsoft.com" (tide1.microsoft.com, tide2.microsoft.com, etc.). The tide* machines are Microsoft's proxy servers, but it's not clear what's behind the proxy servers making the requests. The requests are HEAD requests for "/" (the http root) and the "User Agent" is given as "http generic". Perhaps Microsoft is running a robot to check server market share?

Of course Microsoft's a big company, and some of its employees/software have better things to do than scan the entire IP address space. They've posted a partial XSL (style steets for XML) parser for x86 Windows 95 and NT. It's available in two versions. The first is a command line application that generates an HTML file from an XML file and an XSL stylesheet. The second is an ActiveX Control that displays the HTML rendered XML/XSL inside Internet Explorer.

Friday, January 9, 1998
New Atlanta Communications has posted a bug fix release (1.0.2) to ServletExec. ServletExec is a payware server plug-in for Microsoft IIS, Netscape FastTrack and Enterprise servers, Personal Web Server 1.0 on Windows 95, and various Mac OS web servers that allows them to support Java servlets.

Thursday, January 8, 1998
O'Reilly's released the 2.1 upgrade to their $799 payware web server for Windows, WebSite Professional. This release expands Java servlet support via Live Software's JRun (bundled with WebSite Pro). Upgrades are free to registered 2.0 owners.

Michaki Tatsubori's released version 0.2.2 of OpenJava. Through the OpenJava Meta Object Protocol (MOP) programmers can customize Java to implement new language mechanisms like closures or operator overloading. OpenJava is itself written in Java 1.1, so it runs on any platform that supports Java 1.1. However, OpenJava generates Java 1.0 source code.

Version 1.0.1 of the $35 Jzipper applet archiver and obfuscator tool fixes an occasional bug with obfuscation of string constants.

Wednesday, January 7, 1998
The JDK 1.1.4 port to MkLinux (Linux for the PowerMac) has been completed.

StarNine Technologies has released the first public beta of WebSTAR 3, a $500 payware Web server for the Mac that supports Java servlets and sapplets. (Sapplets are an unfortunately named WebStar specific plug-in written in Java.) Apple's Macintosh Runtime for Java 2.0 and a PoweurMac are required to use servlets and sapplets. You will need this serial number to install WebStar 3. Both the server and the serial number expire on January 30.


Sun's released version 0.7 of the Java Accessibility API. to registered members of the Java Developer Connection. This release divides the Accessible interface into multiple smaller, more targeted interfaces so programmers don't have to implement everything at once. This version of Java Accessibility requires the Java 1.1 compatible version of Swing 0.7.

I'm playing around with a new design for this page. Why don't you take a look and let me know what you think? Suggestions and comments are appreciated.

Tuesday, January 6, 1998
Microsoft's released Internet Explorer 4.0 for the Mac. IE 4 Mac requires a PowerPC processor or 68030 processor or higher, System 7.1 or later, 8-12 MB or RAM, and between 10 and 40 MB of free disk space depending on installation options.

EOS consulting's opened a mailing list called Swing for discussion of the Java Foundation Classes (aka "Swing"). To subscribe send email to swing-subscribe@eos.dk from the account you want to subscribe.

JService 0.3 lets Java applications run as Windows NT services.

Idetix's Invoker 1.1 is a similar but more general utility for NT that allows any application that can be launched by the command line (not just Java apps) to run as an NT service.

Tim Bray has released version 1.0 of Lark, an XML syntax-checker written in Java, and version 0.8 of Larval, a validating XML processor based on Lark. Both are free. Source code is included.

New Year's Resolutions at Cafe au Lait
Monday, January 5, 1998
Kent Fitch's HeapWalk displays the heap from the full memory dump produced by Netscape 4.03 under Windows and writes a formatted report of what objects are pointing to what other objects. This can help identify which objects are using lots of memory and why certain objects aren't garabage collected. HeapWalk requires Java 1.1 and Swing 0.7.

Nathan Fiedler's Graph Theory and Illustration application demonstrates graph algorithms like BFS, DFS, MST, and shortest path. It draws each edge of the search one at a time to clearly illustrate the operation of the algorithm. It also includes some useful abstract data type implementations: Queue, DisjointSet, and Fibonacci Heap.

Sunday, January 4, 1998
Matthew K. Behrens DialogLayout is a GPL'd layout manager that allows relatively precise postioning of components while still accounting for the different sizes of components on different platforms.

Saturday, January 3, 1998
2Link Consulting has released DbGen 1.1. DbGen is a servlet based tool that creates .class files mapping relational database tables into a JDBC-based Java class. The class contains methods to perform ordinary database operations like insert, delete, update, and query.

The DBGen interface is well-done, but the overall architecture leaves something to be desired. First of all, the tool only produces compiled byte code so you can't edit the source files. Secondly, the backend is a servlet so using the tool requires a connection to 2link's web server. There's no stand-alone version. Thirdly, and most significantly, it requires the programmer to enter definitions for each field rather than reading them straight out of the database. A better tool could create class definitions on the fly, and convert database rows to Java objects.

Version 1.3 of Peter Hearty's freeware Java database InstantDB fixes a number of bugs including indexes on binary columns.

Friday, January 2, 1998
Version 1.2.2 of ORO's NetComponents fixes a bug in FTP file listing information and some problems with the Blackdown Linux JDK.

GenieWorks has released SpotCheck 1.0.1, a $39 syntax coloring, source code editor for the Macintosh. Version 1.0.1 adds support for Metrowerks CodeWarrior from release 9 through the Pro 2 release.

Thursday, January 1, 1998
Brian Burton's published jmake 0.5.1, a small Java program that simplifies compiling interdependent Java source stored in a directory structure that mirrors the package structure. jmake scans your source tree and your byte code tree to determine the dependencies between classes and automatically runs javac on changed files.

JavaBeans: Developing Component Software in Java
JavaBeans cover My latest book, JavaBeans: Developing Component Software in Java, has just been released. It's the first book in IDG's new Power Guide series. After reading this book I hope you'll agree with me that beans are the wave of the future, and that they make Java programming easier, more productive, and more fun.

When I was finishing up my last book, Java Secrets, John Osborn, one of my editors at IDG, asked me what I thought would make a solid book for IDG's new professional series. "Beans! Let me write about beans!" I practically shouted. It was obvious, even then, that JavaBeans were going to be hot, and that this is where Java was moving. It's four months later; I know a lot more now about JavaBeans than I did then, and I'm more convinced than ever that JavaBeans is going to be an essential part of the future of Java, and indeed of the broader software development world. This book is your introduction to the exciting and fast-growing world of JavaBeans. With this book you'll learn how to write your own unique beans that can be loaded into builder tools to quickly produce powerful and customized applications.

The JavaBeans Power Guide is 355 pages, $39.95, and includes a CD with the JDK and the BDK (Beans Development Kit) as well as an assortment of beans and builder tools. It's now in stock at Amazon, Computer Literacy, and better bookstores everywhere. I've posted the preface, examples, table of contents, and some other material here on Cafe au Lait. I'll add some more in the New Year. In the meantime, why don't you check out JavaBeans and let me know what you think?

You can also read the news from 1997 if you like.

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Copyright 1998 Elliotte Rusty Harold
Last Modified February 1, 1998