March 17, 1997 10:00 AM ET
Java moving to server
Enterprise development framework to center on JavaBeans
By Michael Moeller

  JavaSoft next month will outline an enterprise development framework for Java that takes the language's write once/ run anywhere technology from the client to the server.

The architecture, to be detailed at the JavaOne Developers' Conference in San Francisco, will be built on JavaBeans, an object-oriented component architecture; a Servelet for creating server-side applications; and a series of APIs from JavaSoft and third-party vendors for transaction services, messaging and directory services, according to sources close to the Cupertino, Calif., company.

Within the framework, developers will be able to construct middle-tier Java applications by linking JavaBeans components. Developers will be able to connect those applications to extend back-end and legacy applications.

In addition, enterprise developers can preserve their investments in back-end code and applications while building new Java applications that can be distributed across the enterprise.

Unlike current Java development that requires developers to interact with class libraries to build applications, JavaBeans contains the core business logic of enterprise applications and provides a higher level interface to the libraries. As a result, developers can quickly develop applications by linking JavaBeans components.

"There is a tremendous potential for using component architectures to link in back-end applications," said Edward Glassman, director of information technology strategy at New York-based Pfizer Inc. Glassman is evaluating both Microsoft Corp.'s ActiveX and Java application development components.

"At most, we want to be a system integrator, not an application developer," Glassman said. "That goes in the right direction of providing me with an application rather than just technology."

JavaSoft will offer several APIs for Java-enabling applications and providing an interface to which ISVs can create JavaBeans.

Some APIs, such as Java Database Connectivity, are currently available.

Other APIs include Java Naming and Directory Interface, Java Transaction Services and Java Interface Definition Language.

JavaSoft is working on new messaging services such as a publish-and-subscribe API in development with The Information Bus Co. and an asynchronous messaging API under way with IBM, sources said.

The APIs may be released separately and could likely be included in an add-on pack for the Java Development Kit this year.

Developers will use JavaBeans to construct Servelets using visual development tools such as Symantec Corp.'s Visual Café Enterprise Edition, due later this year, or IBM's VisualAge for Java, according to JavaSoft officials.

JavaSoft also is working with The Baan Co. to create an object-oriented interface to relational databases, said Jon Kannegaard, vice president of software products at JavaSoft.

IBM this summer will release into beta Part Packs, a collection of JavaBean server applications that will provide functions such as sales force automation, marketing and human resources.

"The idea is to enable corporations to build functionality on top of existing applications and enable that functionality to be upgraded easily by swapping out a single component rather than rewriting the entire program," said John Patrick, vice president for Internet applications at IBM, based in Armonk, N.Y.

A key feature of the server-side Java architecture is the ability for ISVs to create their own APIs-as long as they conform to the 100% Pure Java specification, Kannegaard said.

JavaSoft at JavaOne will detail Just-in-Time compilers for the server, as well as native Java run-time performance increases.

Oracle Corp. expects to debut a suite of electronic commerce technologies and APIs for Java that will enable developers to create JavaBeans that interact with electronic commerce servers, said company officials in Redwood Shores, Calif. Likewise, IBM is considering developing a workflow API, sources said.

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