May 1999 Java News

Friday, May 28, 1999

Sun's posted beta 2 of Java Web Server 2.0. Version 2.0 adds support for version 2.1 of the Java Servlet API, JavaServer Pages, and Java2. This release will expire on August 30, 1999. However given the Sun-Netscape-AOL alliance it's an open question whether this product will actually see the light of day.

IBM's alphaWorks has posted a new release of NetScript with assorted bug fixes. NetScript is a scripting environment for network components that uses a BASIC like language. However, NetScript components are Java beans or JAR files and the NetScript run time is implemented in Java and should run on any Java 1.1 capable platform.

Thursday, May 27, 1999

Sun's posted developers' release 4 of the JavaCard API early access implementation.

I normally don't post press releases,but this one was too good to pass up:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Microsoft Announces Improved BSOD In a surprise announcement today, Microsoft President Steve Ballmer revealed that the Redmond based company will allow computer resellers and end-users to customize the appearance of the Blue Screen of Death (abbreviated BSOD), the screen that displays when the Windows operating system crashes.

The move comes as the result of numerous focus groups and customer surveys done by Microsoft. Thousands of Microsoft customers were asked, "What do you spend the most time doing on your computer?"

A surprising number of respondents said, "Staring at a Blue Screen of Death". At 54 percent, it was the top answer, beating the second place answer "Downloading XXXScans" by an easy 12 points.

"We immediately recognized this as a great opportunity for ourselves, our channel partners, and especially our customers." explained the excited Ballmer to a room full of reporters.

Immense video displays were used to show images of the new customizable BSOD screen side-by-side with the older static version. Users can select from a collection of "BSOD Themes", allowing them to instead have a Mauve Screen of Death or even a Paisley Screen of Death. Graphics and multimedia content can now be incorporated into the screen, making the BSOD the perfect conduit for delivering product information and entertainment to Windows users.

The Blue Screen of Death is by far the most recognized feature of the Windows (tm) operating system, and as a result, Microsoft has historically insisted on total control over its look-and-feel. This recent departure from that policy reflects Microsoft's recognition of the Windows desktop itself as the "ultimate information portal." By default, the new BSOD will be configured to show a random selection of Microsoft product information whenever the system crashes. Microsoft channel partners can negotiate with Microsoft for the right to customize the BSOD on systems they ship.

Major computer resellers such as Compaq, Gateway, and Dell are already lining up for premier placement on the new and improved BSOD.

Balmer concluded by getting a dig in against the Open Source community. "This just goes to show that Microsoft continues to innovate at a much faster pace than open source. I have yet to see any evidence that Linux even has a BSOD, let alone a customizable one."

** Coming soon -- Options for the Hour Glass of Doom!

Wednesday, May 26, 1999
U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte has issued tentative (pending later argument) rulings on the Sun-Microsoft lawsuit. Specifically

  1. IE4 and Windows 98 violated the Sun-Microsoft Java licensing agreement.

  2. Microsoft is allowed to develop clean room implementations of Java.

  3. Something about Microsoft's obligations to support updated versions of Java. (I'm still looking for exact details on this point.)

Version 23.84 of Jacob is now available. Jacob - The Java Commando Base, is a Java browser and project manager for Emacs.

Tuesday, May 25, 1999

Sun's posted an early access implementation of version 0.7 of the Java Media Framework API 2.0 for audio and video. Version 2.0 adds capture, transmission and transcoding to 1.0's playback. It also adds a plug-in architecure to allow developers to write their own codecs, renderers and special effects. The implementation is still incomplete.

Monday, May 24, 1999

Peter Olsen sent in a bunch of new errata for Java I/O covering Chapter 9, Compressing Streams, Chapter 10, Encrypting Streams, and Chapter 11, Object Serialization

Sunday, May 23, 1999

Sun's released version 1.5 of the Java Shared Data Toolkit (JSDT), a class library for adding collaboration features to Java applets and applications.

Friday, May 21, 1999

Sun has posted version 1.0.1 of the Java Transaction API (JTA) specification. According to Sun, "JTA specifies standard JavaTM interfaces between a transaction manager and the parties involved in a distributed transaction system: the resource manager, the application server, and the transactional applications."

Sun has also posted the JDBC 2.0 Standard Extension Source and Binary.

Peter Olsen uncovered the second major bug in the example code in Java I/O. The readUTF() and writeUTF() methods in LittleEndianInputStream and LittleEndianOutputStream from were incompatible with the UTF-8 spec and with each other. I've fixed them, tested them a little, and posted the revised versions on the errata page and updated the online examples.

Version 22.79 of Jacob is now available. Jacob - The Java Commando Base, is a Java browser and project manager for Emacs.

Wednesday, May 19, 1999

Microsoft has released version 1.0 of the Microsoft Developer Tools Interoperability Kit. This kit is designed to allow Windows IDE and VM vendors (e.g. Tower Technologies, Symantec, etc.) to implement Microsoft's extensions to Java like J/Direct. This isn't of interest to end users and most non-tools developers, but it may (or may not) help spread Microsoft's extensions to Java in the future.

I'm not sure who discovered this first, but according to newsgroup scuttlebutt, Sun's recently announced early access compiler supports generic functions (templates to C++ programmers). To activate the template support invoke the main() method of the class instead of like this

% java -cp javac-ea.jar

According to several correspondents, this compiler is actually the GJ (Generic Java) compiler and is documented on the GJ home page.

Tuesday, May 18, 1999

CafeBabe 1.2 is a suite of tools suite of tools for working with the byte code of a .class file.

Mark Hale's released version 0.85 of the JSci class library with restructured graph classes that use separate data model classes and interfaces, restructured JSci beans that use MathML, some performance improvements, and a Quaternion class.

Mark Davis has posted the first draft of a Unicode FAQ list.

IBM's alphaWorks has posted several new and updated products including

Monday, May 17, 1999

The first beta of Java3D 1.1.1 for X86 Linux is now available.

I've posted the slides for Top Ten Myths about Java I/O, a talk I gave Thursday night at the CityJava Users Group. I've also posted the revised slides for the two Java Network Programming seminars I gave last week at SD99West in both PowerPoint and HTML format. Part 1 covers URLs, InetAddresses, and URLConnections. Part 2 covers Sockets, Server Sockets, and UDP.

Sunday, May 16, 1999

IBM's alphaWorks has released WebSphere DAV for Java. DAV is an IETF working draft for distributed authoring and versioning of Web sites. The DAV4J client API provides Java clients with a class library for interacting with WebDAV servers. DAV4J also includes a servlet that can extend the Apache Web server to support the WebDAV protocol in conjunction with IBM's WebSphere application server (sold separately).

TowerJ has released version 3.0 of their $5000 payware TowerJ byte code-to-native compiler for Java. 15-day evaluations are also available.

IBM's alphaWorks has released version 2.0.9 of their validating XML Parser for Java (XML4J) and version 0.17 of the LotusXSL processor. XML4J 2.0.9 fixes assorted bugs, allows multiple parsing objects to run at once, permits subclassing of the DOM implementation classes, and removes the termination clause from the license. Version 0.17 of LotusXSL updates the formatter to support the latest working draft of XSL transformations and adds more command line options. and

Sun's posted an early access release of a new javac compiler on the Java Developer Connection (registration required). This compiler was built from scratch to support Java2 and is supposed to be smaller, faster, and more robust than the existing javac. However, better performance of the compiled code is not an explicit goal of this product.

Sun's posted the first public draft of the Enterprise JavaBeans 1.1 specification.

Netscape has released Communicator 4.6 for MacOS 7.6.1 and later (PowerMac only), Windows 95, 98, and NT, Linux, and assorted other Unixes. It's only available in English as a complete or professional install at the moment. No Navigator standalone version has yet been posted. This release adds some security fixes, the RealNetworks' G2 Player and assorted other features. It also provides 56-bit encryption in all versions (Previous releases only provided 40-bit encryption in the export version.) However, I recommend you download the 128-bit encryption version but the insecure versions are available from the usual ftp servers.

Java changes include

Also, JavaScript has been "fixed" so that if (a=b) is no longer interpreted as if (a==b).

Saturday, May 15, 1999

IBM's alphaWorks has released several new and updated products including

Apple's released MacOS 8.6 which includes Macintosh Runtime for Java 2.1.1 at its WorldWide Developers Conference (WWDC) last week. MRJ 2.1.1 supports Java 1.1.7 but is not as up-to-date as the more recent MRJ 2.1.2 which supports Java 1.1.8 but which was not finished in time to be integrated with MacOS 8.6. Other features of interest to Java developers include expanded support for Unicode, locales, and multi-processing systems. File names are still limited to 31 characters though. Both MacOS 8.6 and MRJ 2.1.2 are free upgrades for MacOS 8.5 users.

Apple also publically demoed for the first time a future (post 2.2) release of MRJ that will support Java2. However Apple has repeatedly refused to commit to delivering this on MacOS 8 o earlier, and may only make it available on the Unix based MacOS X. Apple's track record of supporting older hardware and software (which used to be the best in the industry) has been getting progressively worse in recent years. I wouldn't be surprised if Java2 support never appears for any currently available Mac/MacOS configuration.

Seti@Home's released the client software for Windows, Mac, and Unix for participating in the data analysis of radio signals from other stars.

Friday, May 14, 1999

I've returned from SD99 on the red-eye from San Francisco, and I'm now catching up on mail and news from the last week. There'll be a lot of new news here Saturday. There weren't any announcements of great note at the conference. Apple developers were all at WWDC, and Java developers were waiting for JavaOne next month. Still a good time was had by all.

The hottest subject at the conference was XML, even though the attendees are primarily object oriented programmers rather than Web developers. Both my intro XML tutorial and and my Intro XML seminar were packed. I'll be posting the revised notes for those sessions on Cafe con Leche in the near future. My Java Network Programming seminars were not as well attended as in the past either, and for the first time most of the audience had actually done some significant network programming. I'm gathering that basic network programming isn't as obscure a subject as it was just a year ago. I may have to retire those seminars soon. I also spoke about the Top Ten Misconceptions about Java I/O at a very well attended meeting of the CityJava Users Group. I'll post those slides here soon as well.

Although I really have to finish up the XML Bible this week, after that's done I do want to spend some time cleaning up the notes from all of these talks, and then see if I can repeat them in various venues in the future. I'm based in New York, so meetings and conferences in the vicinity of NYC are more likely, but I do travel from time to time. Drop me a line if you'd like me to talk to your group, and I'll let you know when and if it looks likely that I'll be in your area. In the near future I'll be travelling to New Orleans, Louisiana, Birmingham, Alabama, and Lexington, Kentucky.

Saturday, May 8, 1999

Rhino is an implementation of JavaScript in Java mostly for Mozilla.

I'll be in San Francisco for SD99 West next week where I'll be giving several talks and tutorials on XML and Java Network Programming. If anybody want's to get together at or around the conference, drop me an email. I'll also be giving a presentation on "Top Ten Myths about Java I/O" at the CityJava Users Group meeting Thursday night, 6:00 P.M. (Members free if you RSVP by 5/12/99, otherwise $10.00 at the door. Non Members $15 if RSVP by 5/12/99, otherwise $20 at the door.) Updates here may be sporadic over that week.

Friday, May 7, 1999

Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, and others are forming the "J Consortium" to develop real-time extensions to Java outside of Sun control.

The 9th. U.S. Cirucit Court of Appeals has ruled 2-1 in favor of cryptographer Daniel Bernstein. In Washington, Oregon and California it is now permissible to export cryptographic source (not binary) code of any strength without prior permission from the government. The government will likely appeal to either the full circuit court or (more likely) the Supreme Court.

Thursday, May 6, 1999

Sun has announced plans to try to standardize Java under the auspices of the European Computer Manufacturers Association (ECMA) which they seem to consider less likely to make trouble and more amenable to rubber stamping Sun's submissions. Once the ECMA approves the standard, they'll try to get ECMA to push Java through the ISO.

The bottom line, however, is that Sun has a very hard time letting go of Java. They know they need an open standard to achieve greater adoption, but they simply can't bring themselves to give up the control a truly open standard would require. They first promised to cede control of Java to the ISO once they had developed the base language and API; then reneged on that promise once the time came to put their code where their mouth was. Now they're saying that they'll give the ECMA control, but they'll probably develop cold feet before comlpeting this process too.

Apple's released version 2.1.2 of Macintosh Runtime for Java with various fixes for security bugs. All users should upgrade.

A new project is attempting to develop a Java Privacy Framework (JPF) that allows any developer or infomediary to make their applications privacy-aware, using standard Java APIs. According to the JPF web site, the Java Privacy Framework will meet the following requirements:

This is not yet a product, merely a call to develop an API and implementation. Participation of interseted parties is actively being sought. This is not a Sun sponsored project, though I'm sure they'll attempt to replace it with something they can control if it looks interesting.

Wednesday, May 5, 1999
IBM's alphaWorks has released three new JavaBeans collections:

Tuesday, May 4, 1999

Sun's released HotJava 3.0. This version adds JavaScript, better HTML rendering including full HTML 3.2 and some Netscape 4.0 and Internet Explorer 4.0 extensions, a more "modern" look and feel, and many bug fixes. Java 1.1.6 is required. It has only been tested on Solaris, though it may run on other platforms as well.

Sun's also released version 1.1 of the Beans Development Kit (BDK). The BDK 1.1 requires JDK 1.2 (aka Java2).

Gerhard Paulus has posted version 0.5 of Jacob, his a GPL'd object database written in Java. This version splits the IDE and engine into separate packages, features much improved installation and compilation.

IBM's alphaWorks has released several new products including

Java I/O reached as high as 127 yesterday on amazon's hour-by-hour bestseller list, a new personal record for one of my books. Right now it's holding at 130. I still have ambitions of cracking the top 100. from Albuquerque, NM submitted a very nice reader review. (Thanks snapster, whoever you are!) Meanwhile I've added some more errata submitted by Bradley McLean.

Monday, May 3, 1999

Richard Dragan, senior software engineer at PC Magazine, has written a very nice review of Java I/O for Amazon is featuring the book on their Computers and Internet page and offering it at 40% off for only $19.77. Apparently this really makes a difference to sales, since as of 1:15 P.M. it's hit #225 on the Amazon bestseller list (where it competes with John Grisham and the latest Oprah Winfrey recommendation as well as other computer books), a new personal record for me. Previously it was somewhere between 2000 and 3000.

Sun's posted a beta of version 1.2 of JNDI, the Java Naming and Directory Interface, on the Java Developer Connection (registration required). JDK 1.1.6 or later is required.

Sunday, May 2, 1999

Sun's released Java Server Pages 1.0.

Saturday, May 1, 1999

The ISO JTC1 has posted a formal response to Sun's apparent withdrawal of Java from the ISO PAS standardization process.

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

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Copyright 1999 Elliotte Rusty Harold
Last Modified May 25, 1999