Well well, Sun Microsystems Inc has finally relented and is to include the Object Management Group’s Corba IIOP transport protocol in Java, providing direct connections to Corba-compliant applications and to other Java environments. OMG president Chris Stone must be grinning like the cat that ate the canary, because the Corba-ization of Java is a double strike for OMG. Sun says it will include an extended version of IIOP in a future version of its JDK which Microsoft Corp and the other Java licensees use. Microsoft did not return calls on the subject. Sun formally asked OMG to create a version of IIOP extended to support Java at the groups’ meeting in Montreal this week. Effectively Sun’s JavaSoft unit has given up on an unequal struggle to advance the proprietary Java-specific protocol in its RMI remote method invocation technology that connects Java applets and servers across distributed systems. Initially JavaSoft will implement RMI on top of an extended version of IIOP, but in time plans to merge its own Java-specific protocol with IIOP and provide a single mechanism for connecting Java to Java and to Corba-compliant applications. Over time Java IDL, the way the Java currently connects to IIOP, will become redundant, though JavaSoft says it’ll continue to support Java IDL, and therefore existing applications written using it, for an unspecified amount of time. JavaSoft will also modify the RMI compiler to generate IIOP stubs that enable applications to communicate with each other. There are already connections between IIOP and most other computer languages. There’s also a suggestion JavaSoft may eventually provide a mechanism to generate IDL on the fly, perhaps via some kind of JIT-equivalent. JavaSoft VP technology and architecture Jim Mitchell indicated the group had been working on such a mechanism for the RMI Java protocol. JavaSoft will also swap out the naming service it currently uses for an implementation of the JNDI Java Naming and Directory Interface specification created by Sun, HP, IBM, Netscape and Novell which will enable developers to create Java applications with a unified way of accessing multiple naming and directory services across networks. It includes support for Novell NDS NetWare Directory Services, Sun’s NIS naming service, DNS Domain Naming Service and the standard LDAP Light Directory Access Protocol. Java users will also be able to take advantage of the full range of OMG services – including transaction processing and security – via IIOP/RMI as well as develop Corba-enabled applications using Java Beans. What’s not clear is how much of the work is already complete. The suggestion is that OMG’s work on an extended version of IIOP is done and that it is RMI which must be amended. No-one was able to confirm this. Sun said it hopes first developer implementations of the Corba-ized RMI will be available by year-end; it gave no indication of when it would feed into a JDK release. Netscape said it would make the existing RMI technology available as an upgrade to the new 4.0 releases of its Communicator browser technology in the next six or seven weeks. It didn’t describe the bug which prevented it shipping RMI with the first 4.0 technologies, enabling Java to communicate with Corba applications through Java IDL. Sun denied its move was a response to Microsoft’s plan to extend its Java virtual machine to access the full set of Win32 APIs from within a Java applet or application with JDirect (CI No 3,185). It was only a year or so ago that JavaSoft was saying it didn’t need IIOP and that in any case Corba technology was too fat for end-to-end Java work. It saw the distributed object world in three dimensions: Microsoft DCOM, Corba, and Java. Now there are two.