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Macworld Java Update


Even though Sun was a no-show, the Macworld conference held at San Francisco's Moscone Convention Center did have some Java coverage. Apple, however, could not comment on most questions related to its future Java strategy and there were no significant announcements about Java for the Mac.

The only signs of Java were found at these two seminars hosted by JavaWorld magazine author, Daniel Steinberg:

  • Java Advantages in Mac OS X
  • The Java Report

All in all, it was relatively quiet from a Java perspective. This was surprising in light of recent polls that showed enthusiasm among Mac developers for Java development and performance on Mac OS X beta.

The good

The first seminar, Java Advantages in Mac OS X, focused on Java 2 for Mac OS X, which is expected to be announced in March 2001. Specifically, it covered the Java 2SE (Standard Edition) development platform version 1.3. Java 2SE (or J2SE) is Sun's development platform for client-side PC application and applet development. It includes the following Java Foundation Classes: AWT, Swing, Java 2D, Drag & Drop and Accessibility API, and JavaBeans components for client-side GUI development. Other new J2SE APIs include JDBC (Java Database Connectivity), security, threads, networking, and I/O.

Given the improved adaptability of J2SE for Mac OS X, developers will have new options for development tools. Line-editing tools compatible with J2SE include emacs and vi. Another tool, Project Builder, is an intuitive development environment that uses Java as well as other languages such as C and C++. However, many developers find Project Builder's GUI difficult to use on the Mac.

A Borland engineer also announced that Borland JBuilder 4 for Mac OS X beta would soon be available. This integrated development environment (IDE) was built using Java. JBuilder 4 for Mac OS X beta was used to illustrate J2SE development at the seminar. Application demos included a simple "Hello World" demo, Java 2D animation, and a Java database application. The Java 2D animation was in color, and was built and modified using visual graphics editor tabs. The database application was also easy to build and modify. The JBuilder 4 beta includes code frameworks and templates and will likely be the best environment for Java development for the Mac.

Finally, Java for Apple's QuickTime improves movies and MIDI -- especially streaming video and sound for the Web. The QuickTime for Java API will likely implement many of Sun's Java Media APIs, including Java 2D, Java 3D, JAI (Java Advanced Imaging), Java Sound, Java Telephony, and JMF (Java Media Framework).

The bad

As far as Apple adopting Sun's Java 2EE (Enterprise Edition) development platform, the seminar Q&A session revealed that Apple has no plans for adopting it in the near term. This implies that Mac OS X will have to prove itself as a server-side OS solution before Apple adopts Java 2EE.

However, JBuilder 4 for Mac OS X beta may have some enterprise Java functionality and access to J2EE APIs such as servlets, Java Server Pages (JSP), and Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB) from the prior Windows and Linux builds.

But don't count on official support from Apple, Borland, or Sun for these APIs on the Mac. This will likely put server-side development for Mac OS X on hold for a year or two.

The ugly

Java 2ME (Micro Edition) for the Mac may also remain on hold because it is dependent on Apple's yet-to-be-determined strategy for Mac OS X for PDAs, cellphones, and other wireless, handheld devices. With the failure of its Newton PDA still in recent memory, Apple may be reluctant to enter this arena on its own.

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