Every day, it seems, another developer announces a new Java software product. This year alone, nearly 500 Java applications and development tools were added to a list of Java products compiled by Sun Microsystems. But while the number of commercially available products continues to grow, the Java software market is hamstrung by problems. Ian Yates looked into what's holding Java backJava was meant to be a part of the computing environment of tomorrow and, along with distributed computing models such as NCs, Sun and Oracle were going to free users from the tyranny of Microsoft's desktop monopoly.
But it hasn't taken off, mainly due to a number of chronic problems, including:confusion over what products are available, what they do and how to get them;uncertainty about the viability of many software developers, especially smaller independent software vendors (ISVs);much smaller selection of software compared to what's available for Windows, Unix and Macintosh platforms;lack of a retail presence for commercial applications;ineffective marketing compared to leading Windows applications.
Users can go to Sun's Java Solutions Web page and find more than 1500 Java products listed in categories ranging from database connectivity and electronic commerce to network administration and groupware. Sun likes what it sees in the list. "Java is moving into just about all areas of software, from map libraries and components through middleware and personal productivity products," said Lew Tucker, director of strategic relations for Sun's Java software division. But questions remain as to the quality, and actual availability, of all this software.
Two of the most prevalent Java application areas today are groupware and database connectivity software. But the largest Java product category is development tools. This is not surprising, given that the three-year-old programming language is still primarily in the development phase.
But even as ISVs continue to unveil enterprise Java products - or sometimes merely product plans - some potential buyers are holding off on purchasing until the vendor picture becomes clearer. For Java ISVs, this kind of prolonged tyre-kicking could spell potential doom, meaning the vendor landscape could be dramatically altered in a matter of months. And nowhere is this phenomenon more likely than in the tools arena.
"The market will be able to sustain no more than about 60 per cent of the current Java tool vendors," said Joseph Feiman, a research director at Gartner Group. "I warn my customers to be careful selecting a tool vendor. In two years the vendor might cease to exist, and their customers won't be able to get support for the tool they purchased today."
Handful of survivors
One good example is NetDynamics, a former leader in the applications server and tools market. Sun is purchasing the company, which will put Sun directly in competition with vendors such as WebLogic, Novera Software, and SilverStream Software. It's not likely that more than a handful of the server/tools vendors will survive against Sun and Netscape Communications, which last year bought applications server start-up Kiva Software.
Not everyone thinks Java's popularity among developers and the hype generated by Sun and Java ISVs translate into real software. Feiman, for his part, said the number of products listed on the Sun Web site is vastly inflated. "There are not too many ready-to-use Java applications on the market," he said.
Indeed, a random sampling of vendors listing products on the Sun Web site reveals that many simply aren't available to customers today.
One start-up, Business Evolution, lists a product called InteractPro, a collaboration server designed to allow users to connect, chat and collaborate in real-time and asynchronously. The company tells potential customers that the product can be used within an intranet, extranet or the Internet. But InteractPro no longer exists, a company official said.
And even if a product does exist, there's no guarantee that customers will find out about it. Other than Sun's Web site for Java ISVs and the (www.developer.com) Web site, there are hardly any centralised information and purchasing centres for Java products. "The channels for Java-specific products haven't really been developed or refined yet," Tucker said. "It's the traditional reseller channels that are dealing with a lot of these products. So there isn't one place to go to buy Java products," he said.
However, this is good news for the channel. As Sun Microsystems generates more interest in Java, customers will be knocking on your doors asking: "Where do I get it?" ARN has compiled this roundup of available Java stuff to help you sound like an expert when the question is asked.
Java products listing
JBuilder 2 is a comprehensive set of visual development tools for creating Pure Java business and database applications.
Simplify development with JDK Switching, CodeInsight, Beans Express, and BeanInsight. Plus: Pure Java DataExpress components, complete JDBC connectivity, 200+ JBCL and JFC/Swing beans with source, and more.
VisualAge for Java is the only Java development environment that supports the development of Java applications that can scale from Windows NT to OS/390 enterprise application servers. The new version of VisualAge for Java leverages recently developed IBM Java technology, such as servlet development support for the IBM WebSphere application server environment. The new features of the tool increase performance, streamline program maintenance, improve project management through team programming, and make it easier to connect Java applications to enterprise systems.
Visual J++ is the development environment of choice for programmers building powerful 100% Java-compatible appli-cations and applets. Visual J++ offers a high-productivity Integrated Development Environment (IDE) and a collection of interrelated components to create, test, tune, and deploy Java code on multiple platforms. ActiveXTM integration makes it possible to access databases and existing applications, and makes it easy to create reusable components in Java.
Visual Cafe for Java delivers a comprehensive set of advanced tools for the serious software developer. This is the only Java development tool suite available that is designed from the ground up for professional Java development. It's power-packed with features geared toward the specific needs of today's professional software developers.
With Visual Cafe for Java, Professional Development Edition, you get the most innovative features designed to work the way you want to work. Take advantage of the power you get from the most robust award-winning Java development environment available to dramatically shorten your Java development cycle.
PonyEspresso 3.0 is the first e-mail component built expressly for mobile professionals, delivering easy access, high security, no installation hassles, and lower telecom costs.
The core of PonyEspresso is a lean Java-based e-mail client downloaded to any browser through the Internet from the corporate server.
PonyEspresso runs on any IMAP server and is compatible with nearly all e-mail and messaging systems.
KC Multimedia and Design Group
JDSS is a 100% Pure Java implementation of the Digital Signature Standard. A fully functional evaluation version of the application in a self-installing JShield Java class file that can be installed from the CD is provided.
DigitalMessenger is a 100% Pure Java Buddy List, Instant Messenger and Chat client/server. A fully functional client application in a self-installing JShield Java class file that can be installed from the CD is provided.
JSNTP is a Simple Network Time Protocol (SNTP) client application that permits accurate synchronisation of system time (to less than 100ms) with an NTP time server over the Internet. Millisecond accuracy is possible on Windows 95, NT and SPARC Solaris 2.5.1 using provided JNI compliant native methods.
Other platforms need not use native methods, although this reduces precision to about one second. JSNTP can also be configured to run as a "stealthy" pinger connecting with the NTP server at random time intervals to keep a dial-up Internet connection alive through periods of inactivity.
Included is a fully functional client application in a self-installing JShield Java class file that can be installed from the CD.
JRPN is a pop-up, 35-function scientific calculator application for a PC or workstation desktop (designed for people who always seem to lose their handheld calculators. JRPN uses Reverse Polish Notation for data entry (similar to HP calculators) and will appeal to users who have no use for an "=" sign on a calculator. A fully functional application in a self-installing JShield Java class file that can be installed from the CD is provided.
Virtual Benchrest II is a fun Java application that simulates the target shooting sport of Benchrest Shooting. Try to place five shots in the same bullet hole despite winds varying in intensity and direction.
After you shoot your best, submit your score to the server using the application's network capabilities to compete in weekly "Virtual Benchrest Matches".
Along with the Virtual Benchrest II application, the original (non-networked) Virtual Benchrest applet that can be played in a Web browser off the CD is provided.
Data warehousing/decision support
Data-Miner Software Kit 1.0 (DMSK) is a comprehensive collection of programs for efficient mining of big data. Both classical statistical methods and more computationally expensive state-of-the-art prediction methods are included. Using a spreadsheet data format, the software kit implements the data-mining techniques presented in Predictive Data Mining: A Practical Guide, published by Morgan Kaufmann.
dbProbe 3.0 delivers the next generation in Web-based decision support tools. Written and certified as a 100% Pure Java product, it offers enterprise-wide access to, and analysis of, multi-dimensional data over the Web. In contrast to server-bound OLAP tools, dbProbe implements full Webtop OLAP (client based data analysis delivered via the Web): multi-dimensional data cubes are placed inside an HTML page on a Web server. Users simply point their Java compatible browser to the corresponding URL to download the page and analyse data inside the powerful dbProbe client which also downloads automatically. Thanks to this "Thin Server" architecture, dbProbe can be run simultaneously on thousands of clients with no increase in load on the database or Web server, making it ideal for organisations wishing to deploy decision support capabilities to large, often mobile, user audiences over the Web.
The SensiView Virtual Sensors and Player demonstration is a reduced version of the SensiView.com Web site, and provides a description of the conceptual framework for deploying actual sensor probes as Virtual Sensor objectsin cyberspace. Three specific examples are included: the monitoring of a historical building, a palette of rendering methods, and a dancing ray which demonstrates advanced memory-based sensor evaluation methods.
Bridge Information Systems
BridgeChannel 1.10 offers real-time and continuously updated financial market data over the Internet. Full quotes, indices, fundamental data, analytics, charts and news are available as real-time or delayed information.
HOME Account Network
JTM Product Line provides Internet and intranet account access through a familiar medium, the ATM. This Java technology-based personal financial management tool has a user friendly interface and enables balance enquiry and funds transfer.
Future releases of the JTM will provide smart card access and transaction history reporting. Individuals should spend considerable time planning for their financial future, and some time keeping registers and reconciling accounts. Balance inquiries and funds transfers, however, should be quick and easy to perform. HOME Account Network accomplishes both of these things with the JTM. The JTM provides real-time account balance information on all bank accounts and funds can be transferred between bank accounts.
Internet Retirement Assessor 1.0 provides benefit and financial service companies with Web capabilities for statement delivery, investment performance display, retirement modelling, investment education, change submittal, form request fulfilment, and more.
Since software is never distributed to the end user, all accounts charges are the result of modelling an acceptable scenario using up-to-date data. The software is beneficial to an individual investor/plan participant, as well as a financial planner.
DART Mail R1.02 is a feature-rich e-mail client suite with built-in IMAP4, POP3, SMTP and MIME-1 support. DART Mail makes the most of the IMAP4 protocol by storing messages, address book and user preferences on the server, allowing you to access them from anywhere. DART Mail products work as a Java applet and as a stand-alone Java application. A lightweight version of the client DART-Lite allows quick download and most commonly used features in a small package. DART Mail clients can be deployed outside of a firewall or inside. Using NAProxy server, the Web server and the mail servers can be separated to be on different sides of a firewall.
Timecruiser 1.2 addresses today's enterprise needs to effectively manage time-sensitive business activities, corporate resources and documents. Timecruiser offers a versatile Web-based solution, where users can post events, schedule facilities, coordinate schedules, collaborate group events and share time-sensitive documents organised in a calendar framework over the Internet and intranets.
Enterprise business software solutions
SanFrancisco establishes a new paradigm for building mission-critical business applications by providing a distributed object infrastructure (foundation), common business objects (company, business partner, address, etc), and a rich set of business process components (general ledger, sales/purchase order processing, inventory management, etc) designed with Java technology to be highly flexible and extensible. Together with SanFrancisco specific tools to increase your productivity (auto code generator from object models, wizards, etc), extensive documentation, and the choice to use several leading Java-based development environments, you are able to create platform and tooling independent business applications. IBM's SanFrancisco has the power and flexibility you need to create world-class applications faster than ever before.
ServletExpress is a servlet engine plug-in that turns ordinary Web servers into Java-enabled Web servers. Servlets allow for the creation of complicated, high-performance, cross-platform Web applications in a secure server-side environment. It's state-of-the-art, easy to use and extensible.
Castanet 2.1 enables the distribution, management and updating of network applications within enterprises, to the extended enterprise and across the Internet. These capabilities allow businesses to deploy services to an extended enterprise, connecting themselves with employees, business partners and consumers.
IntraPower Suite 2.5 includes three applications essential to employee productivity. The employee directory allows an enterprise to publish and manage employee information, enabling users to find the appropriate people quickly and easily. The group manager enables team leaders to set up shared workspaces for document sharing and collaboration, and the shared-resource scheduler allows anyone to easily locate and reserve the right corporate resources. An administration console provides an extensive set of tools for customising the applications and ongoing management.
Ambrosia 2.1 is middleware for enabling mission-critical Java application deployment. It provides a complete platform for building applications that must communicate business event information within an intranet or over the Internet.
Ambrosia offers all key features necessary to support development of mission-critical applications, including publish/subscribe messaging for real-time event notification, comprehensive security, guaranteed message delivery, centralised administration, transaction support, and multiple interfaces (100% Pure Java, JavaBeans, C, and CORBA). Ambrosia enables developers to quickly build distributed business systems in which individual applications or components can securely and reliably communicate discrete information "events" to other applications on the network.
Organik is a first in the family of products that enable organisations to fully leverage valuable corporate information that is located outside the bounds of the standard intranet. Despite technological advances, the key problem of providing tools to capture, disseminate and manage corporate knowledge and value from people's heads has never been addressed. The Organik server includes three primary components: a Java application server that handles and manages the transaction model; a standard Web-based interface; and an expert GUI interface to allow the expert to make full use of the agent-gathered information. In essence, questioners receive access to Organik via any standard Web interface, e-mail client or legacy Web aware application.
PHDWeb 2.0a is a complete call tracking, call management and problem resolution software system. Users can enter problems in everyday language and conduct database searches in many languages, not just English, through the power of Natural Language. PHDWeb enables analysts and end users to access traditional help desk features and functionality directly over the Internet and corporate intranet.
AS/400 Toolbox for Java is a set of Java classes delivered as a package that enables the Internet programming model. The classes can be used by Java applets and applications to easily access AS/400 data and resources. The toolbox does not require additional client support over and above what is provided by the Java Virtual Machine and JDK.
DataDirect SequeLink 1.01 Java Edition delivers a 100% Pure Java JDBC solution for Internet, intranet and extranet applications requiring data connectivity.
Through a single, universal JDBC driver and the SequeLink Common Server, Java applets, applications and servlets can now access data regardless of the type of server or database. Removing the need for gateways and DBMS vendor middleware, SequeLink Java Edition offers complete port- ability via its "Write Once, Run Anywhere" implementation and unique n-tier architecture.
ObjectStore PSE for Java is claimed to be the most compact, most powerful embedded database, and it's 100% Pure Java certified. ObjectStore PSE Pro for Java is a pure object DBMS that runs on the Java platform, requires no administration, and has a 450K footprint, which makes it perfect for developers who need a portable local DBMS for their Java applications. Its API is compatible with the multi-user ObjectStore server and it's free.
SilverStream Web Application Plat-form 1.0.1 is an Application Server with an integrated Application Development environment. The heart of the SilverStream platform is the application server. Written in the Java programming language, it is designed to handle serious business applications involving many thousands of transactions a day, with scalability, reliability, and recoverability.
It is a mid-tier application server, that manages database connections, transactions, security, client sessions, agents, e-mail connectivity, full text retrieval, versioning, and dynamic HTML generation.
SimbaExpress 2.0 for JDBC allows access from both application-based and Web-based solutions to corporate relational data stores. SimbaClient for JDBC is 100% Pure Java certified, providing developers of Java applets/ applications with native database access.
The Object People
TOPLink 1.0 is the newest addition to the TOPLink family of advanced object-to- relational persistence products. TOPLink provides Java applications with object-level access data stored in relational databases. Application developers are able to work with relational databases much as they would an object database. TOPLink can map Java objects to an existing legacy database or can generate a new database schema from an object model. It provides a rich set of features to read, write, delete and manage objects in an efficient manner.
Network admin software
System Status Board 1.1 is a help desk application for managing, tracking, and reporting on the status and uptime of systems. This pair of JDK 1.1 applets has been proven to ease end-user frustration and streamline trouble ticket assignment in help desk operations. Featured on JavaReel is an insightful success story highlighting the Java Web Server, a technical white paper on the Thin Client Protocol Framework and the product data sheet for the freely available, 100% Pure Java System Status Board (SSB) product.
Some uses of infoBook include a phone book, product catalogue, and hotel listings.
NetResults 1.2 is a search engine for a Web site or intranet. With the "Auto-Config" feature, installation, configuration and index set-up functions are all achieved with minimal input from the user. In three easy steps information on your site will become searchable by information seekers. NetResults v.1.2 is a server-based software application that is installed on your Java-compatible server(s) to create an index (database) of information you wish to make available for searching. NetResults-CD offers the ability to simultaneously search CD-ROM and multiple servers through any standard Java enabled browser, providing for an exchange of both static (fixed data) and dynamic information (where data is subject to updating). NetResults-API is available for Java software developers looking to add indexing, search and retrieval capability into their software products.
WiredWrite 0.78b is the first publishing application capable of producing long, highly stylised documents that can be displayed with the 100% Pure Java J.Press Viewer. These J.Press Documents (JPDs) are four to 10 times smaller than PDF or HTML. JPDs also render much faster and provide innovative new context sensitive search capabilities that make them an excellent alternative to their PDF or HTML counterparts. Most important, WiredWrite is both powerful and simple. WiredWrite imports various document formats, including RTF and HTML, and allows the author total freedom in stylising the document. It works like the popular word processing/publishing programs users have come to know, thus enabling anyone to become a productive Web publisher immediately. As users gain more experience, they can explore the custom linking and powerful layout features. It facilitates the digital publication of books, technical manuals, user guides, research papers and other long documents.
MerzScope 1.01 is a site mapping and navigation tool that adds value to your Internet/intranet site by providing an easy and fast way to find information. Using a zooming interface, MerzScope allows the surfer to get a bird's eye view of the site and then zoom into areas for more details. MerzScope is 100% Pure Java certified.
VolanoChatPro 2.0 is a 100% Pure Java client/server chat solution that is used to create customised chat rooms on Web sites and corporate intranets. Applications supported include online support desks, interactive sales counters, community chat networks and distance learning centres. Web developers can customise all fonts, colours, sounds, logos, banner ads, buttons and screen text. VolanoChatPro supports all user interface languages. For Web hosting companies, a single VolanoChatPro server can be used to create independent personal chat rooms on hundreds of Web sites.
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