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A Look at the Java Development Kit and Java Beans

Articles and Tips: article


01 Apr 1997

Describes the features of the newest Java Development Kit. (JKD 1.1), including the Java Beans component architecture.


The official production release of version 1.1 of the Java Development Kit (JDK 1.1) marks another major leap forward for Java technology. The Java infrastructure has matured at such a rapid pace and enjoyed such widespread market acceptance, that Java is nearly a cultural phenomenon. The JDK 1.1 includes a host of new capabilities and improvements to existing features; and the production release of JavaBeans, puts the infrastructure in place to make distributed, platform independent, enterprise computing a reality.

You can download the JDK 1.1 today from the Javasoft Web site.

Java and JDK 1.1 are already winning industry accolades:

"Netscape is very excited about the Java platform. Java has gone farther and more quickly than any platform in the history of the computer industry," says Rick Fleischman, senior product manager for tools, Netscape Communications.

"At IBM we see Java as the ideal development and deployment platform for networked applications due to the wealth of platform support, ability to support thin and thick clients, the popularity of the programming environment, and the high level of industry investment," says Scott Hebner, manager of application development marketing for IBM.

An Overview of the JDK 1.1

JDK 1.1 provides significant improvements over JDK 1.0.2 and supplements it with a host of new features. While Java will continue to leverage the World Wide Web, it is also ready to tackle enterprise computing tasks. Write once, run everywhere is no longer a wish, it is a reality that software vendors and enterprise developers can begin exploiting today.

"The essence of Java is that you really can write once and deploy anywhere. That is a huge advantage.," says Bill Dunlap, senior product manager for Borland International's Internet products group.

With JDK 1.1 the number of compliance tests for the Java virtual machine (VM) and for application has risen to five thousand, and they are far more stringent, he noted.

"People can put aside any fears that an applet or application might not really run on all platforms. They can be confidently deployed and developers can be assured they will run. Borland is very impressed at the rate at which JavaSoft is looking at all aspects of the corporate enterprise, understanding the business needs, and delivering the APIs that enable solutions-development, deployment, distribution, and legacy connectivity," Dunlap says.

Just hitting the highlights of JDK 1.1 features becomes a rather long list. Some of those highlights are:

  • JavaBeans component architecture

  • JDBC for legacy database connectivity

  • Language internationalization

  • Enhanced security with signed applets

  • Improved Java VM performance

  • JAR format to compress applets

  • A rewritten, enhanced AWT

Skipping JavaBeans for the moment, which is covered below, let's look at some other major components of the JDK 1.1:

  • JDBC (Java Database Connectivity) provides an open interface specification to SQL databases and a common basis on which to build specific database drivers.

  • The JDBC API defines Java classes that enable a programmer to issue SQL statements and process the results. The JDBC ODBC Bridge driver turns most ODBC drivers into JDBC drivers.

  • More than 20 JDBC drivers are already available.

  • Forty one companies have endorsed the JDBC API and pledged to develop database access products for Java developers.

  • Language internationalization implements UniCODE 2.0 and classes to enable global applications to run in, for instance, North America, Europe, and the Far East with localized character sets; as well as time, date, and currency formatting; all from the same code base.

  • The addition of signed applets may be the most important security enhancement in JDK 1.1. Signed applets enable a developer to designate a trusted site internal or external from which applets can be downloaded. Those signed applets can then be trusted to access hard disk files and write to the hard disk.

  • JDK 1.1 offers significantly improved performance. Computational performance has been improved in the Java VM and overall performance is two to three times faster. The Java Archive format (JAR) compresses applets, boosting the speed of downloading them two to five times.

  • The Abstract Window Toolkit was completely rewritten in JDK 1.1, not only boosting performance, but adding widgets, a delegation event model, and opening up the lightweight user interface framework to third parties so that custom widget can easily be incorporated.

JavaSoft announced a New API-Java Naming and Directory Interface on March 10, 1997.

Java Naming and Directory Interface(JNDI) is a new addition to JavaSoft's platform APIs. It providesJava applications with a unified interface to multiple namingand directory services in the enterprise. As part of the JavaEnterprise API set, Java Naming and Directory Interface API, (JNDI)enables open, industry standard, Java based seamlessconnectivity to heterogeneous enterprise naming and directoryservices.

This API is now available onthe JavaSoft web site for public review.

On http://partner.javasoft.comyou will find JNDI in the Documentation folder. In it 3 documents(in PostScript and PDF format, 6 files):

jndi:The JNDI specification document (Must read)

jndi javadoc: The JNDI javadoc reference man pages (Only for app developers whenthey are programming to jndi)

jndispi: The JNDI service provider's spec and man pages. (Only for directoryservice providers)

If you have problems accessingthis web page, please contact:


For many, JavaBeans stands out the most important leap forward in JDK 1.1-the first and only platform independent component architecture.

"JavaBeans provides the first true lightweight framework for plug n play components, and it defines the standards for the way objects talk to each other," says IBM's Hebner.

Even in C++ programmers had to define how objects interacted, and each company did it their own way. That's one crucial problem solved by JavaBeans, making objects reusable across the entire industry.

"JavaBeans is IBM's standard for networked applications," says Hebner. "We are not just supporting JDK for others to use, Beans is our strategy for the products we are building," he says.

Solidifying Industry Support

Sun Microsystems and JavaSoft have worked aggressively with Java partners and third party developers to solidify industry support for Java, and clearly those efforts are paying off. In conjunction with the releaseof JDK 1.1 and JavaBeans, JavaSoft is kicking off two additional efforts, the 100 Percent Pure Java initiative and the Java World Tour. Both leverage the strong support for Java by many of the top firms in computing, software development, and enterprise solutions.

The 100 Percent Pure Java initiative is a marketing and technology program to educate developers on the "hows and whys" of creating pure Java applications. With the first release of JDK in 1995 JavaSoft has invested significant resources to ensure all implementations of Java remain compatible, including the many implementations of the VM. That compatibility makes write once, run anywhere code a reality. JavaSoft and industry supporters want to make sure developers take advantage of this opportunity.

"You need to keep new development 100 percent pure to capture the seamless cross platform deployment benefits of Java," says Symantec's Allen Bannon, director of developer relations for Internet tools. Intentionally incorporating non Java components into new Java development is like using C++ but still writing C language programs. "You don't get the benefits of reusable objects. One of the major benefits of Java is true cross platform deployment.

That means the 100 Percent Pure Java strategy pays huge dividends," says Bannon.

JavaSoft's 100 Percent Pure Java program rolls together education, developer assistance, a comprehensive test suite, certification, and branding with a "100% Pure Java" logo, into a complete package. The 100 Percent Pure Java white paper is already published. Additional developer information will be released in March, and the program will be officially launched at JavaOne.

The Java Education World Tour >97 kicked off in February in San Francisco. The event will be broadcast via satellite to seven other west coast cities and then travel to 41 cities during February and March.

The world tour is co sponsored by IBM, Netscape Communications, Novell, and Sun. It offers four in depth sessions covering issues central to enterprise application development, Java application development, and electronic business.

Developers Size Up Enterprise Implications

Java's success to date can be measured in many ways. Consider the following data points:

The Gilder Technology Report, released in October 1996, estimated that more than 200,000 professional programmers were using Java, including one third of all theenterprise developers at companies with more than 5000 employees.

Every major operating system vendor is already bundling Java technology with its operatingsystem or has announced plans to do so.

Last summer, 11 companies, including Cisco Systems, IBM, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Netscape, and Oracle, pooled $100 million to form the Java Fund,a unique venture&capital resource for new Java projects.

IBM and more than 50 independent software developers announced the San Francisco Project--an ambitious plan to build new business applications with Java.

Colleges and universities are adopting Java as a core teaching language, including courses on operating system design and client/server application development. Approximately 60 schools now have Java courses and many more areplanned.

There are more than 150 books on Java now in print.

Java in the Enterprise

Businesses need solutions to enterprise computing challenges, not technology for technologies'sake. JDK 1.1 and JavaBeans is significant because it leveragesdata stores and applications already deployed in the computingtrenches.

Java provides the maximum flexibilitypossible to incrementally develop and deploy new applicationsregardless of the installed hardware platform or operating systems.In short, developers agree the enterprise has a lot to gain fromJava.

"In one respect it is not so much the importance of any one featurein Java. It is the fact that the language-indeed the platformCisdesigned to help corporations make an easy transition into distributedcomputing," says Bill Dunlap, senior product manager for Borland International'sInternet products group. The firm's JBuilder product now in beta release, fully supports JDK 1.1 andJavaBeans, and is designed for creating multi tiered distributedclient/server applications.

Lotus Development sizes up enterprise customers as consistently demanding two thingsCsmaller,faster, and easy to use applications, and the ability to use thoseapplications as building blocks to create additional applications.

"That customer demand is not new. The difference is that Java and JavaBeansnow lets us deliver small applications or applets, that meetsthose requirements. And we can deliver a single solution regardlessof the hardware and software," says Larry Roshfeld, general manager of business applicationsdevelopment for Lotus.

Lotus' Kona suite of office application applets due out soonCspreadsheet,word processor, charting, graphics, calendar/scheduling, etc.Ccanbe used as stand alone programs, or combined into customapplications by corporate developers.

Corel Office for Java, now in beta tests, follows a similar strategy. According to the firm'spresident, Michael Cowpland, the Java client components totalonly five megabytes, versus 100 megabytes for a monolithic Windowsoffice suite.

IBM has a large number of Java development projects aimed at the enterprise, says Scott Hebner,manager of application development marketing for the firm. Theyinclude DB2 interfaces, enterprise messaging, team developmentenvironments, version control, and many other value added componentsto address enterprise development requirements.

"For new programming projects," Hebner says, "I think Java and JavaBeans is the preferred choice."

* Originally published in Novell AppNotes


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