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CSY supports Java for 3000 application development

HP’s new Small VM doesn’t impact CSY support of Sun standard

Get started with Java/iX today

HP 3000 division (CSY) Java manager Mike Yawn wanted to get one thing clear before he announced full support for Java/iX starting with MPE/iX 6.0. HP’s latest plans for a new Java element aren’t causing any rift in CSY’s partnership with Sun or its support of Sun’s Java standards.

Mike Yawn with Java/iX“It really doesn’t affect those of us in HP’s server and computer businesses,” Yawn said. “On the HP 3000 and the HP 9000 we will continue to get our Virtual Machine (VM) technology license from Sun. There’s quite a bit more to it than what’s called the “Small VM” that’s been replicated. There’s more to Java than the Virtual Machine.”

The buzz was raised in the SIG-Java meeting at this year’s IPROF conference, sponsored by Interex in Sunnyvale in mid-March. The day before the SIG meeting the Wall Street Journal had asserted that HP was marketing a Java “variant, and breaking with Sun Microsystems Inc. and opening a rift in an industry alliance.”

Yawn explained that Java is more than a virtual machine, the part of the environment which runs applications on a specific platform. In HP’s new plans, platforms such as laser printers will get their own version of the Java Virtual Machine, one that HP built itself to eliminate licensing similar code that Sun had developed. Instead of a technical watershed, the move appears to be a business ploy.

“At this point, HP’s replication of the Virtual Machine isn’t interesting to those of us on the server side, and we’re not suddenly going to change horses in mid-stream,” Yawn said.

SIG-Java co-chair Gavin Scott reported later that the new HP “Small VM” won’t have an impact on the standard, now being supervised by Sun under the auspices of the ISO.

“This is nowhere near as big a deal as you might think from the news stories of the last several days,” Scott said. “The initial reports implied that HP was breaking away from the Sun standard just like Microsoft, which was going to fragment and eventually destroy Java. Of course, the reality is that nothing could be further from the truth.”

HP said its VM announcement is designed to push control of Java further into a standards body and away from Sun’s influence. Scott said the Small VM won’t be changing the standard.

“What HP has announced is simply a Virtual Machine implementation, which is independent of the Java language, so there isn’t much opportunity for them to fragment the Java world,” Scott said in a posting to the Internet. “HP is fully committed to Java compatibility, and has an extremely strong relationship with Sun’s JavaSoft division.”

New tools, new version

Yawn, the other SIG co-chair, was introducing the new functionality of forthcoming versions of Java to an audience of developers at IPROF. The 1.1.5 version of the language will be bundled into the 6.0 release of MPE/iX, expected for release in late summer. But what was even more interesting was Yawn’s demonstration of Swing, the Java Foundation Classes that act as a powerful interface tool for Java applications.

Swing is the biggest change between Java 1.1 and 1.2, and Yawn’s team is porting 1.2 to the HP 3000 beginning this spring. Yawn and ORBiT VP of Technology Mark Klein, another MPE/iX Posix porting expert, got Java’s 1.2 version to successfully launch for the first time on a 3000 over the IPROF weekend. Yawn said that the Swing classes can also be “backported” into the 1.1 versions of Java, which might make them available for an HP 3000 implementation before 1.2 arrives for MPE/iX in 1999. “You don’t have to wait until 1.2 to get it,” Yawn explained.

In addition to getting Swing capabilities for interface design, “Java 1.1 has almost all the core features you need for writing applications,” Scott added. “We’re reaching a point of some stability.”

By supplying a Java Development Kit (JDK) and a Java Virtual Machine in MPE/iX, CSY is committing to bundling the first language with the HP 3000 since the 1970s when SPL was included with MPE.

Yawn said the Virtual Machine that’s been available as freeware for the 3000 is now being referred to as the “Classic VM,” and the next version being prepared for the system is focused on speed.

“Our priorities for the next year are performance, performance and performance,” Yawn said. HP is adding transparent run-time technology to Sun’s technology to boost application performance. HP will be improving on the HotSpot VM with an Adaptive Runtime Compiler, and is prepared to create a native Java version of the VM for the 3000 if needed to further address performance.

“We want Java to perform just like other natively compiled languages,” Yawn said. An NM PROG executable “just like the COBOL or C compiler on the platform” is part of HP’s internal R&D work, now in the investigation stage.

Control over interfaces

Yawn said that Swing resolves the problems with Java’s claim of “write once, run anywhere.” The prior windowing tool, AWT, “was a poor implementation of a lousy design,” Yawn said. Sun changed the event model of how things interact with each other in Java 1.1’s interfaces, “and in 1.2 they’ve finally come along with a good implementation of a good design.”

Swing Classes ScreenSwing provides ready-made interface elements like buttons for applications, including some that do on-screen animation to signal they’ve been pressed. Labels for items like buttons can be easily placed with a toolset that recalls the interface design power of Visual Basic.

“Any object – a radio button, checkbox, folder tab – can contain pictures or any other sort of object,” Yawn explained. Swing also makes possible a concept called pluggable look and feel, answering the criticism that Java application interfaces varied from Windows 95 to Windows NT. Developers can control how the interfaces look using Swing, to adopt a Windows or Macintosh look and feel, or the standard Java look and feel. Windows choices are only available while developing from Windows-based platforms to avoid any lawsuits from Microsoft, Yawn added.

Swing can set a default look and feel, called Metal, or can follow the look and feel based on the platform the application runs on. Sun has added a set of APIs to permit control of the look and feel from a user level. Swing can be downloaded from the Sun Javasoft Web site and installed into Netscape to be used with HP 3000 applications today, according to Gavin Scott. The Swing components are written entirely in Java for minimal performance impact.

The 1.2 design also includes a new collections API, ready-to-use hash tables, b-trees, linked lists, and “just about any sort of data organization you can think of,” Yawn said, “so there’s a class there to do that, so you don’t have to re-implement all that code.”

Java IDL will also add CORBA capability to Java, providing standards-based interoperability and connectivity. Web-enabled, distributed applications using Java IDL can invoke remote network services transparently using protocols such as IIOP. Runtime components include a fully OMG-compliant Java Object Request Broker – which would be the first such ORB component supported for the HP 3000. Yawn speculated that the ORB would run on the 3000 serving requests coming in other ORB platforms.

Database access

HP is providing a native TurboIMAGE class library for its Java/iX release in 6.0, a way to call TurboIMAGE intrinsics from Java applications. The 2.1 version, which can be downloaded from the CSY Jazz Web server today, provides support for item-level locking, Remote Method Invocation (RMI) and JavaBeans, as well as an expanded examples directory and a bug fix for handling String type arguments to DBGET. These HP supplied classes still need support for item-level locking, synchronization for multithreaded applications and more consistent exceptions handling.

There’s also a third-party solution in Adager’s ADBC technology, implemented by Advanced Network Systems, that uses native calls to IMAGE/SQL. These third-party classes are being transformed into a JavaBeans implementation for release this spring.

Scott covered the JDBC options for prospective use with the HP 3000. HP said it is considering nearly a dozen different sources for JDBC middleware on the 3000, and it hasn’t ruled out its own development effort at CSY. A JDBC-to-ODBC bridge can also deliver a way to piggyback on existing ODBC solutions for the 3000, although the meeting didn’t include information on compatible, IMAGE-aware ODBC solutions that have been tested with such a bridge.

Java can be used on HP 3000s natively for application development, Scott added, typing a Java program name at a colon prompt to launch an application without any Internet links, network or Web links. But the language can also serve 3000 needs by being downloaded as an applet into a Web page, “executed there, and use it to talk to a driver to talk to the network to the 3000 or some other server,” he said.

“Not only is this going to be the first bundled language for the 3000, it’s also got the fanciest development environment available for it,” Scott added. “You can get Visual Cafe, Visual Age from IBM to develop code that can be deployed on the 3000 or put on the 3000 and downloaded to a Web page.”

Copyright 1998 The 3000 NewsWire. All rights reserved