July 1998 Java News

Friday, July 31, 1998
The Corporation for National Research Initiatives has released JPython 1.0, a free implementation of the Python scripting language that compiles to Java byte codes.

Thursday, July 30, 1998
Sun's posted version 1.0.2 of the Java Heap Analysis Tool (HAT) on the Java Developer Connection. HAT helps to identify memory leaks.

Wednesday, July 29, 1998
Barry Cornelius noticed that there is in fact no Float.parseFloat() or Double.parseDouble() method in the new JDK 1.2 beta 4 although those methods are mentioned in the changes file.

Sun cofounder and Java advocate Bill Joy, currently working on JINI, has joined Novell's board of directors.

According to International Data Corporation, in the past year Sun passed IBM and HP to become the number one vendor of Unix servers.

amazon.com has XML: Extensible Markup Language back in stock. Current rank is 18,429. My associates report for last week only shows 12 direct sales. There are probably some sales that didn't go through my links. Regardless, it doesn't seem like it takes that many sales to move a book in their listings. Computer Literacy now has it ready for shipment in 2-3 days, and is offering international buyers free until the end of July.

Tuesday, July 28, 1998
Sun's posted the first beta of the Java Cryptography Extension 1.2 the Java Developer Connection. As usual, the actual software is restricted to downloaders from the U.S. and Canada. Third parties in other countries will probably release exportable implementations soon (not that it's all that hard to fool Sun's servers into thinking you're somewhere you're not).

Monday, July 26, 1998
Symantec will be webcasting the introduction of its next version of Visual Cafe for Java tomorrow at 1:00 P.M. Eastern time, 10:00 A.M. Pacific time.

IBM's alphaworks MediaBeans is a Java component framework for multimedia applications.

As you might expect, going out of stock doesn't seem to help a book's sales. XML: Extensible Markup Language dropped below 25,000 on the amazon.com bestseller list over the last couple of days though it's since bounced back to 3,920. This is depressing. I think I'm going to stop tracking this until they get back in stock. Computer Literacy has it in stock at their Vienna, VA store and can ship it from their web site in 7-10 days, and is offering international buyers free until the end of July.

Saturday, July 25, 1998
The San Diego Source has uncovered a new bug in the Java Web Server 1.1 and later that can expose the source of your unparsed .jhtml files that may contain passwords and the like. A fix is available from http://jserv.java.sun.com/products/java-server/security_advisory.html .

XML: Extensible Markup Language reached as high as 390 on the amazon.com bestseller list yesterday and for at least two hours was the number one best-selling XML book before amazon ran out of stock. :-( Despite that little set back, it's continued to climb to 361. Although amazon currently lists the book as not yet published, that is incorrect. Amazon should have more copies soon, and it should also be available at other bookstores, online and off, very shortly. Computer Literacy has it in stock at their Vienna, VA store and can ship it from their web site in 7-10 days.

Friday, July 24, 1998
Sun's released the final version of the PersonalJava 1.1 specification and says they've released the implementation to licensees.

IBM's released the first public beta of Visual Age for Java 2.0. This release runs on NT 4.0 or 95 and supports Java 1.1.6 and Swing 1.0.2. IBM still hasn't done anything about the ridiculous RAM requirements of version 1. 48 megabytes of RAM is a minimum and 64 or more is recommended. Version 2.0 rolls in the alphaworks high performance compiler for Java. It also adds a remote debugger, data access beans, and team programming version control and source management tools. VisualAge for Java 2.0 will eventually be available on Windows NT, OS/2, OS/400 and AIX though for now it's only on Windows.

XML: Extensible Markup Language reached as high as 1,790 on the amazon.com bestseller list yesterday after debuting at 289,821, probably due to sales from this site and Cafe con Leche. This made it amazon's second best-selling XML book behind Simon St. Laurent's XML: A Primer at 138. XML: Extensible Markup Language was #9 of all XML books at Barnes and Noble, but they didn't have it in stock yet. As I write this XML: Extensible Markup Language is down to 2,355. (Update: as of 10:50 it's jumped back up to 1,163. XML: A Primer is at 219.)

I've been tracking it pretty closely to try to figure out exactly how many sales it takes to move a book where in the rankings. As Dan Gray, a fellow computer book author told me, "this amazon sales ranking is more addicting than the stock market" So far I'm tracking it manually, but this weekend I'm going to use a little Java Network Programming to automate the process so I can track these figures minute by minute. Maybe I'll even write a "book ticker" applet for web sites.

Thursday, July 23, 1998
My latest book, XML: Extensible Markup Language is now available at amazon.com and other purveyors of computer books.

Netscape's released version 3.0 of their Directory Server Software Development Kit for Java. This SDK allows your programs to talk to LDAP v2 and v3 directory servers.

Sun's released version 1.0 of the payware development tool, JavaBlend. JavaBlend helps programmers write database aware Java applications by mapping database records to objects.

Wednesday, July 22, 1998
Sun's released the fourth beta of the JDK 1.2 for Windows NT and Solaris. As well as assorted bug fixes and library enhancements, this release introduces two new key words, widefp and strictfp, to enable IEEE 754 extended-precision formats. Supporting these requires changes to the VM as well as the compiler. Other changes include:

There are numerous other changes in the library.

Sun's also released the first beta of JavaMail 1.1. JavaMail is a standard extension to Java 1.1.4 and higher that supports client side IMAP and SMTP. Sun's also released the first draft of the JavaMail service provider guide.

NSTL's YMark 2000 is a free program to help test PCs for Year 2000 compliance.

Tuesday, July 21, 1998
Four TidBits editors are suing the purveyors of the Bullseye Gold spam. Way to go TidBits!

O'Reilly is sponsoring an Open Source Town Meeting on Friday, August 21 from 5:00-6:30 pm at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose, CA. Admission is $10. Proceeds go to the Free Software Foundation. The Open Source Town Meeting is for software developers, corporate IS managers, entrepreneurs, and others who want to take advantage of the open source development and business models. A panel discussion on "Open Source is Open for Business" will be moderated by Tim O'Reilly, and feature Larry Wall, James Barry, Jim Hamerley, David Filo, Richard Stallman, Bob Young, Brian Behlendorf, John Ousterhout, Jordan Hubbard, and Eric Raymond.

Monday, July 20, 1998
Sun's published the Java Card Applet Developer's Guide.

Sun's also published an initial proposal for adding Euro support to Java 1.1.7 and beyond. This isn't a major change and shouldn't affect anyone who doesn't need Euro support. Mostly it involves changing the interpretation of a dozen or so code positions in Java's understanding of Unicode.

Sunday, July 19, 1998
IBM's alphaworks has released a version of the Jikes Java compiler for Linux.

Alphaworks has also updated the Skij Scheme interpreter with extensions for constructing and working with Java objects to version 1.1. Skij can be thought of as a scripting language for Java. Version 1.1 of Skij allows access to non-public fields and methods of Java objects, when used in conjunction with Java 1.2.

JavaWorld reviews the state of Java on the Macintosh as well as the recent MacWorld panel on that topic I participated in.

Saturday, July 18, 1998
The Secure Internet Programming Project at Princeton University has identified another hole in Netscape 4.0's Java implementation on at least some platforms. This hole uses a malicious class loader to effectively disable the security manager. The hole has been plugged in Netscape 4.5, and does not affect Internet Explorer, HotJava, or other VMs. Complete details are not yet available. However users of Netscape 4.0 probably disable Java for the time being.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has proven something cryptographers have been claiming for years: It is possible for less than a million dollars (specifically $220,000) to build a custom computer that cracks DES by brute force fairly quickly. EFF has built such a machine and used to win RSA Laboratory's DES Challenge II in less than than three days. Duplicates can probably be built for about $50,000 and component costs are going down. Complete technical details are available in the just published book Cracking DES: Secrets of Encryption Research, Wiretap Politics & Chip Design from O'Reilly & Associates. (Amazon and the other online booksellers do not appear to know about this book yet, but you can check this link to see if they've gotten it. )

If a small non-profit can crack DES, so can your competitors. So can terrorists. So can organized crime. So can foreign governments. And most certainly so can the U.S. government. This proves that the NSA has been routinely breaking DES encryption for years as has long been suspected. 56-bit encryption is now officially a joke, and 56-bit encryption is about 64,000 times stronger than what can be easily exported from the U.S.

Friday, July 17, 1998
Bill Pugh sent some comparative benchmarks on three different Sun VMs running on the same Sun Ultra 1 Model 170 with Solaris 2.6. All JVM's are Sun JDK's.
VolanoMark 1.0Embedded
CaffeineMark 3.0
JDK 1.1.55131330
JDK 1.2b34211433
JDK 1.2ea10651882
Based on these numbers, the latest Solaris production JDK looks to be a huge performance improvement.

Sun has reported net income of $273 million ($0.69 per share) for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 1998, up from $237.2 million this time last year. This includes a $15 million one-time acquisition charge. Quarter revenues were $2.9 billion, a 13% improvement over this time last year. For the fiscal year, Sun's total revenues were $9.79 billion for the year (a 14 percent gain over FY 1997) and net income was $762.9 million (essentially even with the previous year).

I've updated the notes for Week 4, More Objects, of my Introduction to Java Programming course.

Thursday, July 16, 1998
Sun's released Swing 1.0.3. This release fixes a few minor bugs.

Transvirtual Technologies has released Kaffe 1.0, a complete, GPL'd PersonalJava implementation that runs on Win32 and assorted Unixes.

Sun's released three new versions of service providers for the Java Naming and Directory Interface (JNDI) . JNDI is a standard extension to Java, that provides applications with a unified interface to naming and directory services. The new service providers are

John Ousterhout's Scriptics hopes to make a few bucks by bringing TCL into the corporate mainstream.

Wednesday, July 15, 1998
Bill Pugh checked out the early access version of the Solaris JDK 1.2 production release and has this to report:

It is based almost entirely on the JDK1.2beta3 source code; only 12 source files were changed, and many major bugs from 1.2beta3, claimed to be fixed in 1.2beta4, are _not_ fixed in the early release. Amoung other bugs, bug 4125538 (URLConnections don't work with keep-alive) and 4091084 (SystemColor.get[Red,Green,Blue] return bad value) are still broken.

However, according to the documentation, they've made (finally) major revs to the internals of the JVM. Changes include:

  • Object references now point directly to the heap memory for the object, rather than going indirectly through a handle. This removes a level of indirection for all object references (a big win).
  • Exact garbage collection (previously, garbage collection was conservative).
  • Generational garbage collection (should be much faster).
  • Faster synchronization (my tests show it to be about 6 times faster)
  • Assorted improvements to the JIT compiler.
Other informed sources say that this release is based on Sun's JDK 1.2 beta 3H reference implementation whereas the standard JDK 1.2b3 is based on a slightly later JDK 1.2 beta 3N reference implementation.

Netscape has posted the first preview version of Communicator 4.5. Version 4.5 focuses on bug fixes and ease of use enhancements. There aren't any major new features or HTML tags. There do not appear to be any changes to the Java support. This release expires October 15.

The Cafe au Lait ftp site has finally been restored after being accidentally nuked several months ago, and now contains gzipped tar files of the examples from The Java Developer's Resource, Java Network Programming, Java Secrets, and JavaBeans.

Tuesday, July 14, 1998
Sun's released the first beta of JavaMail 1.1 to registered members of the Java Developer Connection.

Microsoft has released the second public beta of Visual J++ 6.0. This beta includes much better documentation and assorted RAD tools, components, and wizards.

John Brewer has released version 1.0b1 of his JarRunner uility that lets you run a JAR file by double-clicking it.

Monday, July 13, 1998
Sun has posted an early access release of the production version of the JDK 1.2 for Solaris (Sparc and X86) on the Java Developer Connection. A Windows version is not yet available. I do not know where exactly an "early access release of the production version" fits into the normal alpha, beta, FCS, release version scheme. My best guess is that this is just the third beta. This release focuses on performance enhancements. A patch to Solaris may be required before installation.

Sun has also released version 1.1.1 of the Java Plugin (nee Java Activator) for Windows and Solaris. This is a maintenance release that fixes assorted bugs.

Harlequin has released the first commercial version of Apple's object oriented Dylan language for Windows 95, 98 and NT. According to the press release, "Dylan provides a combination of powerful object facilities not found in any other single language. Dylan source code is substantially cleaner and easier to understand and maintain. As a result, it enables organizations to save money by dramatically decreasing development time and reducing the size of their programming teams." Now, where have I heard that before? The personal edition is freely available. There's also a $249 professional version.

The W3C has released a new draft of the HTTP-ng Architectural Model.

Sunday, July 12, 1998
The Open Group has ported JDK 1.1.6 to Linux using native Linux threads.

I've made some minor updates to the notes for Week 11 of my Introduction to Java Programming course, Threads.

Saturday, July 11, 1998
MacWorld New York was fun. About a hundred people attended a panel discussion about the State of Java on the Macintosh moderated by Dori Smith (author of the forthcoming PeachPit Press book Java Visual Quick Start). Participants included Gary Little, Apple's product manager for Macintosh Runtime for Java, Erik Thauvin of Blue World Communications, and myself. I'll write up my presentation and post it here soon. If you're really curious to hear what went on, you can order an audio tape from VW Tapes for $14.00.

There wasn't a great deal of Java news at the show. Blue World announced that a new cross-platform, Java based plug-in architecture will be included in version 3.0 of their Lasso Filemaker-Web integration product which should be available in the third quarter. Apple was demoing the latest version of MRJ 2.1 in the developer section of the show floor. MRJ 2.1 will support Java 1.1.6 and includes lots of bug fixes and speed improvements, especially in threading and the AWT. However, it probably won't be ready in time to be bundled with MacOS 8.5 in the fall. Other than that, there really didn't seem to be a whole lot of interest in Java, though.

Friday, July 10, 1998
IBM's alphaworks has released a new version of their High Performance Compiler for Java, a Java to native executable compiler for AIX, OS/2, and Windows 95/NT, that moves the Java run-time services and core Java classes into DLLs, thus producing much smaller executables.

Alphaworks thas also relesead a bug fix for distributed version of InfoBus tt fixes a NullPointerException during installation if DB2 is not installed. If you aren't having a problem, you don't need to update.

I'll be at MacWorld NY today (Friday). At 2:00 P.M. I'll be participating in a panel discussion about the state of Java on the Macintosh.

Thursday, July 9, 1998
I'll be at MacWorld NY tomorrow (Friday). At 2:00 P.M. I'll be participating in a panel discussion about the state of Java on the Macintosh. Drop me an email if you've got something you want me to see or talk about. It would help if you include your phone number, especially if you don't have a booth.

Wednesday, July 8, 1998
SGI has will close Cosmo Software, its VRML subsidiary, after failing to find a buyer.

I've made some minor updates to weeks 9 and 10 (Menus and I/O respectively) of the notes for my Introduction to Java Programming course.

Tuesday, July 7, 1998
Sun and Microsoft have agreed to reschedule their July 31 court hearing in the Java lawsuit until September 4.

Sunday, July 5, 1998
IBM's alphaworks has updated JKQML to use the Aglets Software Development Kit 1.0.2. JKQML is an API and framework for software agents that communicate over the Internet with KQML, the Knowledge Query and Manipulation Language.

Alphaworks has also made minor updates to CViz, a statistical visualization tool for analyzing high-dimensional data in large, complex data sets written in Java.

Saturday, July 4, 1998
IBM's alphaworks has released version a12f High Performance Compiler for Java, a Java to native executable compiler for AIX and Windows 95/NT. This version supports Java 1.1.6 and Swing 1.0.2.

Friday, July 3, 1998
Unofficially, Sun is now aiming for a late July release date for the fourth beta of the JDK 1.2.

Apple has officially shipped version 2.0.1 of the MRJ SDK 2.0.1 (Mac OS Runtime for Java Software Development Kit). MRJ SDK supplies a compiler and various other development tools omitted from MRJ. This version updates various tools and libraries, including JBindery which has a simplified user interface.

Thursday, July 2, 1998
Sun's released version 2.0 of the Java Servlet Development Kit.

Sun's also posted the first beta of a Java Naming and Directory Interface (JNDI) based RMI registry service provider. that allows programs to access the RMI Registry using a generic naming interface. Furthermore, the RMI Registry can link to JNDI- accessible directories like LDAP to provide location-independent access to remote objects.

Sun's released HotJava 1.1.4. This is a maintenance release with assorted bug fixes and improvements in memory management and HTML display. The previous version was 1.1.2. 1.1.3 was never released to the public.

I've made some minor updates to the course notes for Week 8 of my Introduction to Java Programming course, Windows, Layout Managers, and Dialogs.

Wednesday, July 1, 1998
A new occasional feature below: the question of the day.

Gernot Hueller points out that Sun has missed its revised ship date (June 29) for the fourth beta of JDK 1.2.

To suggest a quote of the day from a public mailing list or newsgroup, please forward the entire article to me at elharo@ibiblio.org with the word "Quote" in the subject line. Be sure to identify the source. To suggest a quote of the day from a public web page, please forward only the quote and the URL of the page to me. In both cases please include the word "Quote" in the subject line.

You can also read the news from June or May if you like.

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Copyright 1998 Elliotte Rusty Harold
Last Modified July 31, 1998