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Sun and Netscape Offer Developer Release of Java Foundation Classes

Articles and Tips: article

01 Jan 1998

Sun Microsystems, Inc. and Netscape Communications Corp. recently announced the developer release of the Java Foundation Classes (JFC), a comprehensive set of GUI components and foundation services designed to simplify development of Internet, intranet and desktop applications.

The Java Foundation Classes are available for public download initially through the Java Developer Connection (Sun's support network for Java developers) at, and can be used to begin building JFC-based applications immediately.

Core to the Java Platform, the Java Foundation Classes provide the building blocks that enable developers to easily create a rich graphical environment for commercial-quality 100% Pure Java applications. The Java Foundation Classes provide developers with enormous flexibility in user interface design. Developers can create an application that reflects the operating system on which the application runs; for example, it could look like an application written for the Macintosh, Solaris, or Windows platform.

In addition, the Java Foundation Classes enable developers to create a custom user interface for applications and also allows developers to enable computer users to switch the "look and feel" of JFC-based applications "on the fly," a feature that is unique to applications developed with the Java Foundation Classes.

"We're delighted to deliver to Java developers the most comprehensive GUI toolkit for the Java Platform--the Java Foundation Classes.," said Jon Kannegaard, vice president of software products at JavaSoft, a business unit of Sun Microsystems, Inc. "The Java Foundation Classes were built with Netscape and other partners in the industry and are designed to simplify the development of Java programs with a rich user interface.

"With today's release, we expect developers to evaluate the Java Foundation Classes and give us lots of feedback so that we can create class libraries that will enable them to begin building dynamic JFC-based applications."

"By providing developers with early access to the Java Foundation Classes, developers can start creating 100% Pure Java crossware applications, a new class of applications that span operating systems, networks and enterprises, for intranets and extranets," said Rick Schell, senior vice president of the client and platform product division at Netscape. "The Java Foundation Classes make it easier to write 100% Pure Java and speed the development cycle."

IBM and Apple Computer, Inc. have also been actively involved in the development of the Java Foundation Classes. IBM has contributed to the design of the Java 2D API.

"This first release of the Java Foundation Classes to developers marks another key step in the rapid progress of Java as a core part of network computing," said Rod Smith, distinguished engineer and director of Internet Technology, IBM. "IBM is pleased to be working with Sun, Netscape and Apple on the evolution of the JFC to support our customers' needs for dynamic, mission-critical applications."

Jim Gable, vice president platforms and technology marketing for Apple Computer stated, "This preview release of the JFC is an exciting announcement for developers. Apple supports the effort by using JFC on both Mac OS and our next-generation OS, code-named Rhapsody. At Apple, we aim to make Mac OS and Rhapsody pre-eminent platforms for the development and deployment of Java technology. We believe the continued evolution of JFC strengthens the developer proposition for Java on Apple's platforms."

Key Features of the Java Foundation Classes

The comprehensive set of GUI components and foundation services in the Java Foundation Classes is being developed by Sun, Netscape and Java developers throughout the industry. More than 50 companies are participating in the JFC Advisory Council, hosted by Sun.

The Council is helping define the Java Foundation Classes, which incorporate many of the best features of the Netscape Internet Foundation Classes, and is an extension of Sun's original foundation classes, the Abstract Windowing Toolkit (AWT).

The Java Foundation Classes include a rich set of GUI components, such as view options, tool bars, choosers, buttons, menus and many others. In addition, since the Java Foundation Classes have an open architecture, and all JFC components are JavaBeans components, developers can easily bring in other JavaBeans GUI components to enhance their JFC applications.

The Java Foundation Classes also include key foundation services like:

  • Accessibility. The Java Accessibility API, which will ship with the Java Foundation Classes, are designed to make Java applications accessible to people with disabilities through devices such as screen readers, screen magnifiers, Braille terminals, and others.

  • Java 2D. The Java 2D API is designed to allow for sophisticated visual applications for scientific, engineering and business users.

  • Drag and Drop. Drag and Drop (D&D) functionality is designed to allow users to drag text or images between Java and native applications.


Developers can use this Java Foundation Classes release, which consists of new JFC components, to begin developing applications to be deployed on platforms that support JDK 1.1.

After collecting data from developers during this early release period, Sun, the JFC Advisory Council and other developers throughout the industry will work together to further refine the APIs for the JFC beta, due this fall, which will include today's components as well as new foundation services and APIs like Accessibility, Java 2D and Drag & Drop.

The final version of the Java Foundation Classes will be included in the next edition of the Java Development Kit (JDK), due later this year.

More information on the Java Foundation Classes can be found on Sun's JFC Web Page at

* Originally published in Novell AppNotes


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