HP 3000 sites can get a full Java Development Kit (JDK) and run time environment from Hewlett-Packard starting this month, as the software that promises highly portable, object-oriented development environments officially moves into the MPE/iX environment with a 1.1 release. Customers need to be on MPE/iX 5.0 Express 3 or later to use the software.
HP's Software Product Manager Kriss Rant said the license HP obtained for HP-UX distribution of the software has been extended to the MPE/iX implementation as well, "so we are free to distribute it in any way we'd like now." The software is being made available from the HP 3000 division's Jazz Web server.
Java's chief benefit to the HP 3000 is that it brings a highly portable development environment to what some persist in calling a legacy platform. Applications written for the Java run-time environment, called the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) will run on any hardware that supports a JVM. Java-based applications and applets are likely to keep the legacy epithet at bay throughout their lifespan. Such software will easily move to the latest hardware and new I/O devices.
The 1.0.1 version of Java has been available in beta test throughout this spring from the Jazz Web site and more recently on the MPE Freeware tape distributed by Interex ($30-$50 prepaid; contact Interex at 408.747.0227). HP will make the 1.1 version of Java available for a future release of the Freeware tape, Rant said.
Java is important enough to be included in an HP Customer Note, but it's one of the first such solutions that isn't on an HP software tape or supported officially by HP. Java isn't being included as part of the Express 2 release of MPE/iX, and HP isn't offering support for the HP 3000 version of the solution through its worldwide Response Centers. HP's hesitation is because it is exploring how important its 3000 sites consider the software. HP has elected to begin offering Java on the 3000 as freeware, as it did with the NCSA Web server software for the HP 3000 before entering into a product agreement with Open Market to port its commercial Web server.
Informal support is available for Java 1.1 on the HP 3000. Customers can subscribe to a e-mail listserver run by SIGJAVA, the Interex Special Interest Group for Java. To get questions answered by CSY's Mike Yawn, the engineer who's ported Java to the HP 3000, send an e-mail message to email@example.com with the single line "subscribe sigjava-L Your Name" in the body of the message.)
Work on the 1.1 version of Java for MPE/iX is being leveraged back into the HP-UX version of the product, Rant said. He added that HP is considering porting the new high speed JIT Java compiler it has developed for HP-UX, so the software can be available for HP 3000 sites.
The current Java release will be going into customer sites with most of its functionality in place. CSY's Yawn said at presstime the first full release would have some limited exceptions to full network functionality. Multicast sockets haven't yet been ported successfully, but that the basic client-server socket network connections are working and were being tested in late April.
The network functionality is most important for customers who want to write Java server code for HP 3000s. HP says that customers who want to use Java as a completely portable language for 3000-centric applications will see no impact based on the networking functionality. Yawn said he thinks this portability is key to making Java useful.
"Although most of the hype around Java has been in relation to its Web capabilities, I actually think this is the most interesting area for Java use: to develop applications that are completely portable," he said.
Users who want to develop Java applets that communicate with non-Java code running on the 3000 (as with the JDBC-ODBC demo HP showed on its Strategic Directions TV broadcast) also won't be affected by the multicast inoperability. HP expects most users to be developing applets on PCs and then uploading them to a 3000 Web server, rather than developing them on the MPE JDK.