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SunSoft to ship Java Workshop

Solaris OpenStep beta also ready to go

By Ellen Messmer

September  1996
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Framingham, MA -- After an exhaustive, year-long beta period, Sun Microsystems Inc.'s SunSoft division will begin shipping its primary applications development tool kit for building Java applets and applications.

The company tested the product for such a long time in order to increase its speed, which is 30 times faster than when testing began.

SunSoft expects its Java Workshop, which has the look and feel of a Web browser, to be popular with companies that are simply adding Java applets to HTML content, as well as with professional programmers versed in the art of building full-fledged applications.

"It's a complete Java development environment," said Larry Weber, vice president and general manager for SunSoft's workshop products group.

Java Workshop will let programmers develop applications together -- even if they are in different locations -- by letting them specify Java files as URLs that can be shared across the 'Net, Weber said.

Sun's JavaSoft unit already offers the Java Developers Toolkit of APIs and Class Libraries. SunSoft said Java Workshop falls into the same tool category as Microsoft Corp.'s VBScript and Netscape Communications Corp.'s JavaScript. One edge that Java Workshop has is that it is written entirely in Java, while others only emulate Java interfaces, Weber said.


Because Java Workshop is written entirely in Java, however, developers must deal with Java's current weaknesses. On the other hand, Java Workshop benefits from Java's strengths. For example, it offers such features as the ability to debug multiple applets with a single HTML page. SunSoft stresses Java Workshop's purpose as an Internet, not a Windows, software development environment.

Customers are happy with the final product, though some wish it would run on more platforms.

"It's definitely speeded up," said Steve Rogers, vice president of online services at American Recordings Inc., which is promoting artists on the Web using applets written with the Solaris-based version of Java Workshop.

One drawback for Rogers is that Java Workshop is not available for the Macintosh. As a result, the Burbank, CA, company also uses the Macintosh-based WebBurst from Power Productions Software Inc.

Currently, Java Workshop is only available for Solaris, Windows 95, and Windows NT. The Mac version won't ship until next year.

More from Sun...
Sun's long-promised Solaris implementations of Next Software Inc.'s object-based OpenStep technology were released for beta testing. Full shipments of the Solaris OpenStep operating system and Workshop OpenStep development environment are due late this quarter, Sun officials said. The OpenStep software will be packaged separately from Sun's Solaris NEO object tools, but the product sets are compatible.

And finally...
The X Consortium will hand over development responsibility for the X Window System technology to The Open Group, the Cambridge, MA, organization formed earlier this year by the merger of the Open Software Foundation and X/Open Co. The X Consortium will cease engineering activities after it fulfills its role as prime contractor on a new version of The Open Group's Common Desktop Environment that integrates the Motif 2.0 user interface with X11 technology. That project is scheduled to be finished by year's end.

--Ellen Messmer, Network World, and IDG News Service

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