August 1999 Java News

Tuesday, August 31, 1999

Bruce Eckel's posted the first draft of the second edition of Thinking in Java. The main change in this release is that all examples now use Swing and the new collections API.

Monday, August 30, 1999

Vincent Partington has decided not to continue development of his GNUJSP, an open source implementation of Java Server Pages. However, Paul Siegmann has started an experimental branch to upgrade GNUJSP to version 1.0 of the JSP specification. Separately, Yaroslav Faybishenko has also upgraded it to version 1.0b2 to support the JSP 1.0 spec.

NetBeans has released a public beta of Developer 3.0 Entry, an Integrated Development Environment for Java written in Java. Members of the NetBeans Early Access Program can also use the preview builds of the Pro and Enterprise modules. This release supports Java 2.

The free relational database MySQL is now the open source database MySQL. Version 3.20.32a is now available under the Gnu General Public License. This is not, however, the latest and greatest release. Metalab runs MySQL, and I use it on the New York Women Composers web site. I'll probably be using it to add some features here in the next few months.

Sunday, August 29, 1999

RSA challenge 155 has been factored by a private team over seven months of unused night and weekend computing on about 300 Sparc and SGI workstations. 512-bits is looking less and less secure for public key cryptosystems, and it now seems likely that the NSA may be able to break these systems much more quickly than previously thought. For various technical reasons, it is easier to break a 512-bit public key system by brute force than a 512-bit or even 128-bit private key system like Triple-DES or TwoFish. These may still be safe, but I recommend you upgrade your public keys to 1024 bits.

Friday, August 27, 1999

Sun's posted a beta of the Java Media Framework 2.0 on the Java Developer Connection (registration required).

The Gcj team has released libgcj 2.95.1 to fix some bugs and port to a few new platforms. Gcj is the Java front end to gcc, and libgcj is the runtime that goes along with the compiler. libgcj includes the java.lang,,, java.util, and java.text packages.

Thursday, August 26, 1999

Version 0.83 of Fujitsu's Hybrick SGML/XML browser with support for XLinks and XPointers has been re-released. There don't seem to have been any changes since it disappeared from the old site a few months ago, so I doubt this supports the latest working drafts.

A research group at the Department of Computer Science at RWTH is seeking .class files of all kinds and sizes for testing new optimization techniques.

Wednesday, August 25, 1999

Microsoft's posted build 3186 of their Java virtual machine for Windows NT, 95, and 98.

Tuesday, August 24, 1999

Sun's posted the first beta of the JDK 1.3 (Java 2 SDK 1.3 to be precise) on the Java Developer Connection (free registration required). As usual this is available only for Windows and Solaris. This release includes a Hotspot based virtual machine tuned for client (as opposed to server) performance. Currently, this only really helps on Windows, not Solaris though. Furthermore it's incompatible with the Java VM Profiler interface. Other changes include:

And as usual many bugs have been fixed and many new ones have been introduced. That's about all I have time to mention right now. There's a lot more. See the Release Notes for more details.

BlueJ 1.0, a free Java IDE designed especially for teaching, has been released. BlueJ should run on any Java 2 compliant system (e.g. Solaris and Windows).

A federal appeals court suspended the injunction prohibiting Microsoft from shipping products with Sun's Java, pending clarification from the original issuing judge. The specific issue is whether the injunction was issued because of contract or copyright violation. This is a fairly detailed legal point, and not being a lawyer I'm not sure I quite understand why this is an issue; but apparently it's easier to get an injunction in the even of a copyright violation rather than a contract violation.

Monday, August 23, 1999

Sun's submitted a Java Specification request for version 1.1 of the Java Advanced Imaging API. Comments close September 20, 1999 (not that there's any real chance this won't be approved, regardless of merit, since it's a Sun proposal).

Gerhard Paulus has posted version 0.8.8 of his open source storedObjects object database written in Java. This release adds servlet support.

PVCj 1.2 is a GPL'd utility to do client-side caching of JAR archives used by the Java Plug-in.

If you missed it over the weekend, be sure to read my paranoid ravings about the Suun acquisition of Star Division below.

Saturday, August 21, 1999

I'm quite disappointed to hear from c|net that Sun Microsystems, a company I mostly like, will be buying Star Division, a company I also mostly like. To understand why let's look at another piece of today's news:

Sun and IBM have dropped JavaOS for Business, a thin client operating system that was supposed to compete with Windows by allowing PCs to be replaced with network computers. In one form or another, under a couple of different names, JavaOS for business goes back to about 1995. It shipped a year ago and garnered a few OEM adoptions, though it didn't sell all that well.

This is just the latest in a long string of technologies that Sun has introduced to compete with Microsoft over the years, and that have gone absolutely nowhere. StarOffice is, in the long term, a serious competitor to Microsoft Office, one of the very few out there. Sun has proven time and again that they're much better at talking about competing with Microsoft than with actually doing so. (Think WABI, for just one example.) I like Sun, and I like Star Office, and I really want Microsoft Office to have some real competition. But I'm terrified that Sun is going to have no idea what to do with Star Office once they've got it; that StarOffice will mostly languish in the bowels of Sun for five years or so, with nothing much happening after a few initial press releases; and finally die an unlamented, unnoticed death.

One final note for the paranoid: Sun hates Linux. They don't talk about it very much, but Linux is a much bigger threat to Sun's core, revenue producing businesses than anything from Microsoft. Sun wants to compete with Microsoft. But for the most part they really don't. Few Windows purchasers ever seriously consider a Sun or Solaris box and vice versa. The same cannot be said of Solaris vis-a-vis Linux. Many people who would have previously bought a low-end SparcStation (myself included) are now installing Linux on cheap X86 or PowerPC hardware instead. StarOffice is a key part of the Linux client equation. If there's no StarOffice for Linux, or if further StarOffice development is moribund for a few years, then a Linux client looks a lot less attractive. Not that I think the lack of StarOffice would kill Linux, but it might slow down further adoption; and the loss of it would be a loss to the Linux community. Remember, StarOffice is not open source software. Sun can kill it. Am I just being paranoid? Or are they really out to get us?

Thursday, August 19, 1999

Sun's posted the first alpha specification (but not implementation) of version 1.2 of the Java 3D API. This is supposed to be a relatively minor update.

Motorola has announced plans to purchase development tools vendor Metrowerks for $95 million. Metrowerks is best known for its CodeWarrior IDE. For several years, Metrowerks has been the only significant Macintosh C, C++, and Pascal compiler vendor, as well as the only vendor of a Java IDE for the Macintosh.

Wednesday, August 18, 1999

Australian Business Access has released version 1.1 of the free ABA JCE, an exportable clean room implementation of the Java Cryptography Extension (JCE). This provider supports RSA, RC4, SHA, DES, Triple-DES, Blowfish, Twofish, MD5, and IDEA in various combinations of modes and paddings. Since the ABA JCE was written in and is published from Australia, it's available to anyone who can legally import it (or who doesn't mind breaking authoritarian laws).

Tuesday, August 17, 1999

Sun's released version 2.0 of the Java Internationalization and Localization Toolkit.

Kong Eu Tak's posted version 0.9 of Mailpuccino, his freeware Java email client with support for SMTP, POP3, IMAP4, LDAP, and more.

IBM's alphaWorks has refreshed the WBI Developer Kit for Java with new Java beans, bug fixes, and more documentation. The WBI Developer Kit provides an API for programming HTTP filters.

Elsewhere at IBM, you'll find a preview version of Visual Age for Java with Java 2 support.

Sunday, August 15, 1999

Gerhard Paulus has released version 0.8.5 of his open source storedObjects object database written in Java. This release adds regression testing to parts of the source code.

Friday, August 13, 1999

Since I last checked in on the Java Community Process back in June, there've been a host of newly recommended and approved Java Specification Requests (JSRs). In the approved category you'll find

Newly proposed JSRs include:

The various JAIN JSRs all seem to involve low level network management in the context of different variations of the public switched telephone network and similar networks and won't be of interest to most people.

Version 0.6m of Gj, a Java compiler that supports generic types (templates), has been released. This release fixes assorted bugs.

The XML Bible is in stock again at Amazon. If you ordered over the last couple of days, you should get it soon. otherwise, now's a good time to order.

Wednesday, August 11, 1999

IBM's alphaWorks has updated their JAX application packaging tool. This release adds a new user interface, improves the configuration mechanism, and fixes assorted bugs.

Tuesday, August 10, 1999

Sun's posted a Java Specification Request for an XML data-binding facility for the Java Platform. According to the proposal, "Such a facility compiles an XML schema into one or more Java classes. These automatically-generated classes handle the translation between XML documents that follow the schema and interrelated instances of the derived classes. They also ensure that the constraints expressed in the schema are maintained as instances of the classes are manipulated."

Sun's released version 1.0.1 of HotSpot for Windows and Solaris Sparc. (Is Solaris X86 effectively dead? Even Sun doesn't seem to be supporting it any more. Did Linux kill it?)

Daniel Savarese has released Java 2 compatible versions of the popular, soon-to-be open source OROMatcher, PerlTools, and NetComponents libraries that vanished some months ago when ORO went under.

Sun's posted the first early access release of the Java Secure Socket Extension (JSSE) on the Java Developer Connection (registration required). This allows JDK/JRE 1.2 programs to use the SHTTP protocol. Interestingly this is something that's been available in the Netscape and Microsoft VMs for some time, but not in Sun's own VM. JSSE goes much further, however. Among other features it implements the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocols. As is customary with cryptographic software, this is only available to customers in the U.S. and Canada.

IBM's alphaWorks has posted a new release of the alphaWorks updates IBM Classes for Unicode with assorted bug fixes.

My latest book, The XML Bible is in stock for 24-hour shipment at (Update: that was quick. Less than two hours after I announced it here, Amazon's sold out and have placed it back on 1-2 weeks shipment. They'll probably have more sooner than that though, based on past experience.) This book features over a thousand pages of detailed information about writing Web pages and other documents using XML, DTDs, XSL, CSS, and more. More details and three sample chapters are available on The XML Bible home page.

My recent rant about TextPad and the general lack of decent text editors on Windows led a number of people to suggest that I check out the demoware UltraEdit. It took me a couple of days to get it configured properly, but eventually I did figure out how to make Control-W close the window and get it to compile simple Java files as well as turn off the annoying current line highlighting. (The amount of time it took me to figure out how to do all this suggests that the manual needs some work, though.) I've spotted a couple of minor bugs, but overall UltraEdit does seem to be a vast improvement on TextPad, if not quite up to the level of BBEdit yet. If TextPad 4.0 doesn't fix the problems that have been bothering me, I'll probably make the switch.

Monday, August 9, 1999

IBM's alphaWorks has posted the first release of the Wapsody WAP simulation environment, a Java implementation of the Wireless Application Protocol, an HTML-like system optimized for cell phones and PDAs.

Gerhard Paulus has released version 0.8.0 of his open source storedObjects object database written in Java. This release adds a lot of schema support, regular expressions, zombie objects (which don't sound very useful but what a cool name!), and propagation of exceptions.

Saturday, August 7, 1999

Apple's released version 2.1.4 of Mac OS Runtime for Java (MRJ) to fix two nasty bugs that affected Java applications but not applets. One bug was that windows would occasionally disappear or become non-functional. The second is quitting a Java application could cause another application to quit, or a file opened by another application to close. This release require System 7.6.1 or later, a PowerMac, and at least 32 MB of RAM.

TextPad 4.0 is now available with Java syntax highlighting among many other new features, most notably support for double byte character sets including Japanese. Upgrades are free if you purchased on or after 1/1/1998, £6.50 GB pounds (approximately $10 USD) otherwise. Cost is $27 for first time buyers.

Designed with textpad I've been using TextPad 3 for all my Java and HTML editing on Windows for the last year or two, but remain amazed that this is the best Windows has to offer. It's a user interface disaster that consistently confuses and annoys, but there really doesn't seem to be anything better. The only reason I use TextPad is that the competition (PFE, HomeSite, JBuilder etc.) is even worse. I continue to maiantain that if BBedit were ever ported to the PC, it would own the market in inside of a year. I'll have to check out 4.0. I hope Helios has fixed some of the bugs and interface idiosyncracies. (I mean really, F8 for Find?, Control-F for Find Again? and a find that doesn't wrap around by default? Was this product designed by Martians?)

Thursday, August 5, 1999

Sun's posted the first early access release of the Java Shared Data Toolkit (JSDT) 2.0 on the Java Developer Connection (registration required). The JSDT is a pure Java class library for building networked, collaborative applications like white boards and multi-player games. This release fixes some bugs and speeds up performance in several areas, but is not backwards compatible with JSDT 1.5.

Wednesday, August 4, 1999

The Blackwood project aims to better integrate Java with Mozilla including OJI, an XPCOM/Java bridge, a Java DOM API, a Java WebClient API and Pluglets. It's not clear whether or not this is an officially Sun supported effort.

Alan Baratz has resigned as president of Sun's Software Products and Platforms division (which includes Java, Jini, Solaris and Sun's developer tools), effective shortly. He'll be joining private equity capital firm E.M. Warburg, Pincus & Co. Jon Kannegaard, Java Platform general manager, will become acting division president, at least for the time being. Baratz has a reputation as a strong Java advocate within Sun, but so's Kannegard and this move looks like purely a personal one for Baratz. It shouldn't have any major effect on the future development of Java within Sun.

Sun's posted an experimental MIF Doclet that generates API documentation in Maker Interchange Format from JavaDoc comments in source code. The resulting files can then be opened and edited in Adobe FrameMaker.

Tuesday, August 3, 1999

Sun has posted the second early access release of the JDBC CachedRowSet on the Java Developer Connection (registration required). According to Sun, "CachedRowSet provides a disconnected, serializable, scrollable container for tabular data.". This is is an implementation of the Rowset interface from JDBC 2.0.

Sun's also posted the first early access release of the Java Access Bridge for Windows on the JDC. This impure Java product lets a Windows based Assistive Technology work with the Java Accessibility API.

Monday, August 2, 1999

IBM's alphaWorks has posted the first version of CommonRules, a Java class library for interoperable business rules.

You can also read the news from January, February, March, April, May, June and July if you like.

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Copyright 1999 Elliotte Rusty Harold
Last Modified September 8, 1999