Standards Efforts Percolate Through Java Development Community

By Peggy King, Special to UniNews online

At year two of the JavaOne developer's conference, there were abundant signs that Java is well on its way to becoming a standard for enterprise computing. Attendance swelled from 6,000 in 1996 to almost 10,000 in 1997. Developers attending keynote talks and breakout technical sessions filled the large Esplanade Ballroom at Moscone Center beyond capacity and crowded into overflow rooms.

The JavaOne exhibit area, with its space set up more as vendor show-and-tell stations than as actual trade show exhibits, had outgrown its original concept. The floor was jam-packed with Java developers and with the programmers from Software Development '97 (being held at the same time and days in the other portion of Moscone Center) who abandoned their own more spacious exhibit area to inch their way through the crowds. Java proponents returned the favor on Wednesday evening by coming to hear Software Development '97 keynote speaker Bill Gates of Microsoft defend ActiveX, a competing Internet development environment. After his keynote, the crowds took to the streets outside Moscone for a street fair complete with bands and Starbucks Java chip ice cream.

During the three-days , Sun, Microsoft and its JavaSoft business unit revealed other more serious indications that Java is on its way to becoming a standard. JavaSoft president, Alan Baritz, shared the podium with Sun Fellow, lead Java architect and 1997 Uniforum lifetime achievement award winner James Gosling, in a program that included announcements about Sun's intention to
submit the Java specification to a formal standards body and new details about the 100% Pure Java initiative.

Declaring that "All roads lead to ISO" (International Standards Organization), Baratz announced Sun's decision to request ISO certification for Java with approval of the request expected in July. Gosling explained why ISO was the chosen standards body. "We (Sun Microsystems) have tried just about every type of certification process. We've joined as many consortiums as other vendors have, but none of them seem to work. It may take longer than we would like, but there are checks and balances in the ISO process to assure that specifications move through certification efforts without getting bogged down," he says.

Sun is also adding new enterprise application programming interfaces (APIs) to Java. Two APIs included in the recently released Java Development Kit 1.1 are Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) and Java Remote Method Invocation (Java RMI). Still under development are an interface definition language for Java (Java IDL) that will become part of the OMG's next release of the Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA) specification, and APIs for transaction services, naming and directory services, and for messaging services used by message-oriented middleware.

On the marketing side, Sun is rallying support for making Java a "write once, run anywhere" platform by promoting adherence to its 100% Pure Java marketing program announced last December. Key partners include IBM, Apple, Netscape, Oracle, Novell, and Corel Corp., which introduced at suite of office productivity applications written in Java. Many other vendors including Hewlett-Packard and DEC also support this initiative to assure that all of their Java products will be written in adherence to the common set of Java APIs. To make this initiative more than a marketing campaign, Sun has instituted a certification process. Independent software testing lab KeyLabs, Inc. will be the first facility authorized to test vendors' Java-based products. Products which achieve 100% pure Java certification get the right to display the Java logo on product packaging.

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