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SUN READIES SUNSCRIPT AS VISUAL BASIC EQUIVALENT TO JAVA

Sun Microsystems Inc is readying a new SunScript implementation of the Tcl tool command language, intended to act as the universal glue for tying Java, ActiveX, graphical user interfaces and applications together, and has formed a new unit under Tcl’s inventor John Ousterhout. Sun views the new product as a kind of Visual Basic for Java. The SunScript business unit starts life with a dozen people. The unit is expected to double in size over the next couple of years. Tcl, a technology which Sun has unofficially supported for years, is essentially a high- level language enabling developers to link strings of commands that might execute a script to say, access a database or a legacy application. The commands can be exported as a Tclet application which can be executed anywhere a Tcl interpreter is supported. Sun already offers a Tcl plug-in for Netscape browsers – as well as for X Windows systems, Windows and Macintosh. SunScript, effectively a Web-and Java-enabled version of Tcl, will include a graphical user-interface builder, browser plug-in, an embeddable Web server for executing control Tclets on real- time devices such as Network Computers, and a Tcl development environment, debugger and project manager. In the future it will be extended to support JavaBeans and Active X applets within a year, and a version written completely in Java is also under development. SunScript won’t, the company insists, compete with the C++-based JavaScript, which is designed for scripting HTML forms. Some 500,000 developers currently use Tcl, which is also supported by companies such as the Santa Cruz Operation Inc for systems management, Cisco Systems Inc for router management, and Oracle Corp for its network management software. Early versions of the user interface builder and browser plug-in are available from Sun for download. Microsoft blocks Java standardization process.

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