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Java API Overview

Articles and Tips: article

01 Apr 1997

Editor's Note: The following information is reprinted by permission of Sun Microsystems, Inc. For the latest information on the Java API Overview, please see the Web site at

This article gives a broad overview of the current and upcoming API for Java, both for Core libraries and Standard Extension libraries. The APIs will be released in approximately this order:

JDK 1.0.2 API

The JDK 1.0.2 API is (by definition) the API that ships with version 1.0.2 of the Java Development Kit (JDK). It includes the 8 basic packages: java.lang,, java.util,, java.awt, java.awt.image, java.awt.peer, and java.applet.

Two printed books of the online documentation from JavaSoft are currently available in bookstores: The "Java Class Libraries: An Annotated Reference" has examples for every class member, while "The Java Application Programming Interface" (Vol. 1 & 2) is based on javadoc&generated documentation.


The JDK 1.1 is the latest release of the Java Development Kit. It is a superset of JDK 1.0.2 that brings improvements in functionality, performance and quality to Java.

See JDK-Related Technology for information about Java IDL, Native Threads, and other core technology that is related to the JDK.

Java Enterprise API

Java Enterprise APIs support connectivity to enterprise databases and legacy applications. With these APIs, corporate developers are building distributed client/server applets and applications in Java that run on any OS or hardware platform in the enterprise. Java Enterprise currently encompasses four areas: JDBCTM, Java IDL, Java RMI and JNDITM.

JDBCTM is Java Database Connectivity, a standard SQL database access interface, providing uniform access to a wide range of relational databases.

See JDBC web pages for more information.

Java RMI is remote method invocation between peers, or between client and server, when applications at both ends of the invocation are written in Java.

See Java Distributed Systems web pages for RMI on JDK 1.0.2.

Java IDL is developed to the OMG Interface Definition Language specification, as a language-neutral way to specify an interface between an object and its client on a different platform.

In order to provide sufficient time to standardize Java-to-CORBA connectivity through OMG, Java IDL has been be decoupled from the JDK 1.1 release and will be available on a slightly delayed schedule. Java IDL, implemented completely in Java, will work seamlessly on top of JDK 1.1 when it is available.

Java Naming and Directory Interface (JNDI) is a new addition to JavaSoft platform APIs. It provides Java applications a unified interface to multiple naming and directory services in the enterprise. As part of the Java Enterprise API set, JNDI enables seamless connectivity to heterogeneous enterprise naming and directory services. Java developers can now build powerful and portable directory-enabled applications using this industry-standard interface.

JavaBeans API

The JavaBeans APIs define a portable, platform-neutral set of APIs for software components. JavaBean components will be able to plug into existing component architectures such as Microsoft's OLE/COM/Active-X architecture, OpenDoc, and Netscape's LiveConnect. End users will be able to compose together JavaBeans components using application builders. For example, a button component could trigger a bar chart to be drawn in another component, or a live data feed component could be represented as a chart in another component.

JavaBeans is now available in JDK 1.1. Beans developers will also need to download the Beans Development Kit from the JavaBeans web pages.

Java Security API

The Java Security APIs are a framework for developers to easily and securely include security functionality in their applets and applications. This functionality includes cryptography with digital signatures, encryption, and authentication.

An intermediate subset of the Security API is included in JDK 1.1. This subset is known as "Security and Signed Applets."

See Java Security web pages for further information.

Note: Only an intermediate subset of security is included in JDK 1.1

Java Server API

Java Server API is an extensible framework that enables and eases the development of a whole spectrum of Java-powered Internet and intranet servers. The APIs provide uniform and consistent access to the server and administrative system resources required for developers to quickly develop their own Java `"servlets"-executable programs that users upload to run on networks or servers.

Java Commerce API

Java Commerce API will bring secure purchasing and financial management to the Web. JavaWallet is the initial component, which defines and implements a client-side framework for credit card, debit card, and electronic cash transactions.

Java Media API

Java Media APIs allow developers and users to easily and flexibly take advantage of a wide range of rich, interactive media on the Web. The Media APIs encompass these areas: Java 2D, Java Media Framework, Java Collaboration, Java Telephony, Java Speech, Java Animation and Java 3D.

Java 2D provides an abstract imaging model that extends the 1.0.2 AWT package, including line art, images, color, transforms and compositing.

Java Media Framework (JMF) specifies a unified architecture, messaging protocol and programming interface for media players, capture and conferencing. JMF will be published as three APIs. The Java Media Player will be published first; Java Media Capture and Java Media Conference APIs will be published subsequently. Java Media Player is an API for synchronization, control, processing and presentation of compressed streaming and stored timed media, including video and audio.

Java Media Capture web pages and API spec are not yet published.

Java Media Conference web pages and API spec are not yet published.

Java Collaboration allows for interactive two-way, multi-party communcations over a variety of networks. There will be two releases, Part 1: Sharing of collaboration-aware applications, and Part 2: Sharing of collaboration-unaware applications.

Java Collaboration Part 1 web pages and API spec are not yet published.

Java Collaboration Part 2 web pages and API spec arenot yet published.

Java Telephony integrates telephones with computers. It provides basic functionality for first-party and third-party call control.

Java Speech provides Java-based speech recognition and speech synthesis (text-to-speech).

Java Speech web pages and API spec are not yet published.

Java Animation provides for motion and transformations of 2D objects. It makes use of the Java Media Framework for synchronization, composition and timing.

Java Animation web pages and API spec are not yet published.

Java 3D provides an abstract, interactive imaging model for behavior and control of 3D objects.

Java 3D web pages and API spec are not yet published.

Java Management API

Java Management API provides a rich set of extensible Java objects and methods for building applets that can manage an enterprise network over Internets. It has been developed in collaboration with SunSoft and a broad range of industry leaders including AutoTrol, Bay Networks, BGS, BMC, Central Design Systems, Cisco Systems, Computer Associates, CompuWare, LandMark Technologies; Legato Systems, Novell, OpenVision, Platinum Technologies, Tivoli Systems, and 3Com.

Java Embedded API

The Java Embedded APIs specify how the Java API may be subsetted for embedded devices that are incapable of supporting the full Java Core API. It includes a minimal embedded API based on java.lang, java.util and parts of It then defines a series of extensions for particular areas such as networking and GUIs.

This API proposal will be released for public review at a time to be determined.

Copyright 1996 Sun Microsystems, Inc., 2550 Garcia Ave., Mtn. View, CA 94043-1100 USA. All rights reserved.

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* Originally published in Novell AppNotes


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