Java News from Thursday, November 27, 2003

I was more than a little surprised to hear that Orbitz is planning an IPO. You may remember Orbitz as the online travel agency set up to help the major U.S. airlines keep control of bookings, and which is majority owned by five of the six major U.S. airlines (Delta, Northwest, American, United, and Continental). As one would suspect from such a venture, I've rarely if ever found the lowest price on Orbitz compared to other sites, especially on routes where low-cost airlines like JetBlue and America West also fly. I hear the same is also true for routes served by Southwest, though since Southwest doesn't fly to my home airports in New York City I can't vouch for that personally.

I understand why Orbitz was formed. What I don't understand is why anyone who isn't a major airline would think this is a good investment. This is not a company that exists to bring direct value to its stockholders. It is now and will remain in all but name a subsidiary to the five airlines that control it. Its purpose is to shore up the airlines' fares and profits. If you feel like investing in the five major airlines, why not invest directly in the stocks where any real profits and growth caused by Orbitz would be disbursed?

Not that any of these airlines are all that likely to see any profits or growth anytime soon, of course. In fact, if I had to guess why the IPO is occurring now, I'd say it's because the four of the five partners selling the stock are desperate to get some cash from somewhere. United's in bankruptcy and all but Delta (which isn't selling its Orbitz stock) are teetering on the brink. If they were seeking to maximize the cash from the sale, they would have planned the IPO for the week after Google goes public and sets off the next insane Internet bubble.

Simone Bordet has posted the first beta of MX4J 2.0, an open source implementation of Java Management Extensions (JMX) 1.2.1 and the JMX Remote API 1.0. MX4J 2.0 is published under the Mozilla Public License.

Linus Tolke has posted ArgoUML 0.15.2, an open source UML modelling tool written in Java. This is a bug fix release. ArgoUML is published under a BSD license.

R. Rawson-Tetley has posted SwingWT 0.73, an open source, "100% pure Java library which very closely resembles the interface of Swing. The difference is that instead of using the Swing library, it drives native peer widgets from SWT" (the Eclipse GUI toolkit). With this library, Java/Swing applications can be compiled natively under Linux using gcj. It also allows Swing apps to use native widgets. This version adds an Ant build file, and supports accelerator display on menu items and borders. Several other components were improved. SwingWT is published under the Common Public License.

Eisvogel Flieg has posted version 0.9.4 of JKMapIME, an open source Unicode input method engine for Java based on the Yudit data. This is a bug fix release. JKMapIME is published under the GNU General Public License (GPL).