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April 7, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:51pm

SUN, NETSCAPE, IBM DEFINE JAVA FOUNDATION CLASSES

By CBR Staff Writer

As far as Sun Microsystems Inc is concerned, the biggest deal at last week’s JavaOne conference in San Francisco was the announcement that Sun, Netscape Communications Corp and IBM Corp will work together to develop tools for defining the Java look and feel known as Java Foundation Classes. The classes see the coming together of Sun’s Abstract Windowing Toolkit with Netscape’s Internet Foundation Classes. IBM makes up the triumvirate with some of its own classes, together with some of the engineers Sun got from its acquisition of Lighthouse Design Ltd in July last year (CI No 2,938). The swing set, as Java coding-hero James Gosling called it, is a set of JavaBeans re- usable components with a consistent set of application programming interfaces, and is pretty close to review release, according to Gosling, which these days means a few steps away from reaching its first beta version. Java developers have expressed some frustration with parts of Sun’s Java classes – mainly the Abstract Windowing kit – with the result that attention has wandered on to other libraries such as the Internet Foundation Classes, and the Java Generic Library from ObjectSpace Inc. Sun must be hoping that the Java Foundation Classes will focus the Java community’s programming efforts on a single, widespread library once more. Officially the Java Classes will be around within two months, according to Alan Baratz, president of Sun’s Java subsidiary JavaSoft Inc. In the meantime developers are encouraged to continue using the existing Sun and Netscape libraries, dowloadable from their respective Web sites. Baratz said the Abstract Windowing Toolkit and the Internet Foundation Classes were largely complementary and contained a lot of overlaps, so the new Java classes are really the two combined plus a few additions. Some nominal changes will be needed to software already written, in order to make it comply with the Java Foundation Classes, he said. The rest of Sun’s road map involves version 1.2 of the Java Developer’s Kit arriving in late summer, including a version of the HotSpot compiler technology that Sun got by acquiring Longview Technologies – otherwise known as Animorphic Technologies – in February (CI No 3,104). The developers’ release of the HotSpot Java Virtual Machine is claimed to be more than three times faster than the current version, thanks to what JavaSoft calls an inline global optimizer which monitors programs as they run and looks for performance-sensitive regions that it can tune for better performance. Its release is set for spring, with the full version due by year-end, although it really doesn’t take much of a genius to realize that those release dates are surely out of synch.

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