Hewlett-Packard, 3Com and Sun Microsystems have all made significant announcements concerning small footprint versions of the Java virtual machine (JVM) for handheld appliances and devices with limited resources, at the JavaOne conference.
Although no officials were in attendance, even Microsoft had something to say.
3Com's Palm Computing division announced that it will use a forthcoming Sun implementation of its JVM, dubbed Java 2 Platform Micro Edition, in a future version of the PalmOS due out later this year.
Perhaps of more significance to PalmOS developers is the announcement that application development for the Micro Edition can now be done on the PalmOS rather than exclusively on Sun's Solaris operating system.
Hewlett-Packard announced an upgrade to its Chai virtual machine, a 250KB independently engineered or "clean-room implementation" of the JVM specification and a new technology called ChaiFreezeDry, which will dramatically reduce the size of Java applications by 50 percent to 90 percent, according to an HP representative.
"ChaiFreezeDry is a technology that gets applied to the class loader. We have a space-optimizing class loader that concentrates at that step," said Byron Ryono, director of marketing for the Embedded Software Operation at HP. "This is not data compression; if it was you would have to decompress. This executes the concentrated Java application."
Ryono also said Java developers will not have to rewrite Java applications in order to take advantage
of the FreezeDry technology.
One analyst said additional support for a JVM from a company other than Sun or IBM will help solidify Java's place in the enterprise.
"It is good news from a couple points of view. It is an implementation that is ready to roll out and install for use. It is also good news that it is extending the enterprise into data information intensive appliances that are going to extend the role of the enterprise and make it more flexible," said Paul Zorfass, an embedded analyst at IDC/First Technology, Framingham, Massachusetts.
Chai, Version 3.0, is shipping now and also adds applet support, distributed computing class libraries, the Remote Method Invocation, Reflexion, and Serialization.
"We will continue to add class library support to the Chai [virtual machine], and we will get to the full class library support that will include JavaBeans by the end of the year," Ryono said.
HP officials are also trumpeting Chai's Jini-like capabilities for dynamic discovery and announcement of services on a network.
If you plug in a printer that has been enabled with Chai Appliance Plug-and-Play capabilities, the printer will announce itself, describe its services, and, using HP's JetSend technology, do content negotiation to issue drivers to the network.
"It does discovery and announcement of services by using the protocols of the [Web], not proprietary protocols like Jini," Ryono said. "It is a direct competitor to Jini but it is a technology based on standards. With Jini you have to do everything in Java."
Although Microsoft was obviously not in attendance at Sun's JavaOne, a spokesman did have a few things to say about Java and even HP's Chai.
Responding to reports that Microsoft might use a clean-room implementation of Java in a new version of Internet Explorer, Microsoft's Charles Fitzgerald, director of the Developer Division's business development, said it was "certainly an option to use Chai."
"There are lots of different ways this can play out. The judge has made a pretty clear distinction between clean-room and nonclean-room development. And clean room is not encumbered by any of Sun's requirements," Fitzgerald said.
A court ruling on the Sun-Microsoft case is expected on June 24.
Fitzgerald was also outspoken about Sun and how the company intends to use Java.
"The key issue from our perspective is, is Java something that we will be able to use to take care of customer needs or is Java just wedded to whatever Sun's latest anti-Microsoft campaign is," Fitzgerald
3Com Corp., in Santa Clara, California, is at www.3com.com. Hewlett-Packard Co., in Palo Alto, California, is at www.hp.com. Sun Microsystems Inc., in Palo Alto, California, is at www.sun.com.
(InfoWorld Editor at Large Ephraim Schwartz is based in San Mateo, California.)