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The No Decaf Juice on Java

September 1998
If repurposing digital content from a catalog or brochure to a dynamic Internet site is part of your average day at the office, you better get your fill on Java!


BY MARIE RANOIA ALONSO


Java junkies say the appeal of Java applications is that they are easy to distribute across networks and can run on any computer platform. Some proponents believe the adoption of Java will jog a move to the network computer. Others predict Java will play a bigger role than originally anticipated in the management and delivery of content over the World Wide Web.

Why does Java matter?

Since its introduction three-plus years ago, Java has been brewing. "Clearly, Java is becoming ubiquitous on the World Wide Web for delivery of a huge variety of content—you pretty much can't go to a Web site these days without downloading a Java applet of one type or another. Some firms are even using Java for software distribution," reports Chuck Gehman, manager of technology at Digital Art Exchange (DAX).

"Without question, Java has and will continue to change everyone's user experience of the Internet as time goes by," the DAX technologist continues. "What's more, Java holds the promise of finally providing excellent cross-platform capabilities. But right now, it is still just a promise."

Or is it?

Java is expected to play a key role in its parent, Sun Microsystems' corporate strategy of focusing on the management and delivery of content over the Internet. Sun Microsystems, bravely challenging the giant that is Microsoft by introducing the Java platform, believes the adoption of Java will precipitate a move to the network computer—a low-cost device that will pull programs off the network as needed.

What is Java?

Java can be looked at from a few different perspectives. Microsoft, for example, views Java as merely a new programming language and is building Java into its platforms.

Java can also be viewed as a platform. When a program is written in Java, it can run on any platform—cutting ties between the program and any specific platform. This approach—elevating Java beyond the scope of a mere programming language—is quite radical and revolutionary.

If you ask Sun Microsystems, the Java platform is a fundamentally new way of computing, based on the power of networks and the idea that the same software should run on many different kinds of computers, consumer gadgets and other devices.
 

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