OpenDoc is superhighway kill. It got run down by the Java juggernaut on the road to network computing. But it’s not about OpenDoc, insists IBM Corp, claiming the object-based component document architecture it brought into the world was never designed to provide networked, write-once, run-anywhere applications. Instead Big Blue sees OpenDoc as a victim of the internet revolution in which writing applications for discrete desktops delivered through local area networks is history, and shared network-centric programming models using Java Beans components deployed over the internet are the future. It’s still not quite got the stomach to write an obituary for the technology it at one time staked a part of its future on – remember all that fuss over bi-directional interoperability with Microsoft Corp Object Linking & Embedding on OS/2? – but it concedes that OpenDoc’s future will occupy a niche market for specialist desktop C++ application developers. IBM’s message for its customers and ISVs is to use Java on the client side and Java plus C++-based OMG Corba technologies (without OpenDoc of course) on the server. Although it might not have sounded like anything of the sort at the time, last week’s love-in with Sun Microsystems Inc, Oracle Corp and Netscape Communications Corp (CI No 3,118), was supposed to have painted in the server-side of that vision. IBM claims each company has been beaten up by customers sick of waiting for the promise of heterogeneous, interoperable applications. The story goes that all four vendors have, in response to the complaints – or more likely the noise of the Microsoft Corp machine breathing down their necks – decided they will make new and existing products interoperable using Corba IIOP-based plumbing. They’ll develop other extensions where necessary, highlighting security, transaction processing, messaging, and directory services as particular areas of dysfunction when it comes to building applications for electronic commerce. Over the course of this year IBM says it will begin to offer VisualAge for Java, Blue Beans, DataBolts, Applet Author and San Francisco tools for building these kinds of applications. The client side of the gang of four’s vision is promised in short order. It will include a common, component-based approach to application design using Java Beans technologies.