Web site for developers

by Matthew JC. Powell

A free information resource has been made available to system analysts and software designers by Excel Software. The Web site,, contains over a hundred pages of information on software models, design methods and software engineering tools for Mac OS and Windows 95/NT computers as well as Sun Solaris and HP-UX operating systems.

Not surprisingly, the site focuses on Excel Software's own tools, but other areas of the site are useful as general reference areas regardless of the particular tools you use. The Software Models area includes descriptions and examples of class, data, object, process, state, structure, screen and task models. Related information includes data dictionary, requirements, specifications, code browsing and CRC cards.

The Macintosh and Windows products area includes product descriptions and screen examples.

Sun set to focus on distributed systems

by Rob Guth and Matthew JC. Powell

At its JavaOne developers conference in San Francisco, Sun Microsystems is likely to detail Java developments that advance the company's goal to provide the base pieces for building vast distributed systems.

The development expands upon ongoing work on Java object repositories called JavaSpaces and attempts to unite several other key Java technologies, allowing the entire Internet to become a giant virtual machine with millions of devices working together.

At JavaOne, Sun is expected to announce new components to the Java platform called "Jini", which provide interfaces that enable networked devices to be represented as "services" accessible by other devices connected to the network. An external disk drive, for instance, under the Jini system would be represented by an object that describes what the drive does and how another device can access the drive over a network.

The match making of services is carried out by a JavaSpace, which is an object repository that enables applications and hardware to share work and results over a distributed environment.

Officials emphasised that the system will not be a Sun product but rather a specification which the company hopes vendors will build into their devices and applications. Jini has particular relevance for the builders of computer components, peripherals and appliances. Sun believes its Java distributed systems work has broad implications, even providing future virtual marketplace for services, officials said.

Local lads make good

by Matthew JC. Powell

Australian developer Formida Software has been selected as a "valued partner" by Oracle as part of the promotion of Oracle8. Oracle will promote its relational databases in conjunction with Formida Fire, a suite of tools for visualising complex data such as multimedia and 3D content.

Thomas Richards, Formida's vice president for marketing and alliances, told ARN: "We are seeing a need for companies to incorporate this kind of complex information into their databases. Essentially, there are no other tools for doing this on this scale. Combining the Formida Fire tools with the Oracle8 engine allows for the development and deployment of applications that incorporate images, audio, video, spatial, CAD and multidimensional data", he said.

Richards also told ARN that he didn't see the Oracle deal as the peak for Formida. Deals are apparently under way with IBM and Informix as well. Richards says that right now it is a competitive advantage for these companies to incorporate Fire, but before too long, when this kind of capability becomes more commonplace, it will be a competitive disadvantage not to incorporate tools such as Formida's.

Mark Pretty, Formida's vice president and managing director, told ARN that moving the company's headquarters to California, had been a crucial step in its development. "It's not that Australian companies have to move away from Australia in order to be successful.

"But certainly being there, in the middle of Silicon Valley where all the deals are, makes it a lot easier," he said.

NetObjects enhances scripting capabilitiesby Jeff WalshNetObjects has broadened its product offerings with the introduction of NetObjects ScriptBuilder 2.0, which will enable NetObjects Fusion users to become Web-application developers without the need for other third-party products.

ScriptBuilder 2.0 is an enhanced version of Acadia Infuse, a script editor NetObjects recently acquired from Acadia. The product is the first from the company's Application Development Tools division, and combines development tools with a point-and-click environment to create client and server scripts. ScriptBuilder 2.0 supports Netscape and Microsoft Web-scripting environments, as well as HTML, Dynamic HTML, JavaScript, JScript, VBScript, Netscape's Livewire extensions, and Microsoft's Active Server Pages extensions.

Prior to NetObjects Fusion 3.0, many users had to design pages in Fusion and then output them to add the scripting.

ScriptBuilder is not tied exclusively into the Fusion family. It can be used with any Web-authoring tool, company officials said.

The product will be available in April, although Australian pricing had not been set at press time. A trial version can be downloaded from the company's Web site at: www.netobjects.comFirmware DesignTel (02) 4721 7211Fax (02) 4721 7215

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