Netscape Wraps Its Arms Firmly Around XML, JavaBeans

Netscape Communications Corp. at Internet World in New York this week is expected to detail its continuing embrace of Extensible Markup Language (XML) and JavaBeans technology as a way of binding its products together. Already, Netscape has issued to developers a thin-client JavaBeans container as part of the company's support for Java Developer Kit (JDK) 1.1, said Marc Andreessen, executive vice president of products at the Mountain View, California company.

Netscape Communications Corp. at Internet World in New York this week is expected to detail its continuing embrace of Extensible Markup Language (XML) and JavaBeans technology as a way of binding its products together.

Already, Netscape has issued to developers a thin-client JavaBeans container as part of the company's support for Java Developer Kit (JDK) 1.1, said Marc Andreessen, executive vice president of products at the Mountain View, California company.

Available on the company's Web site to software developers, the JDK 1.1 add-on offers the ability to run JavaBeans and Bean-based applications on clients.

Netscape's existing Enterprise Server also contains technology to run JavaBeans, so JavaBeans-based applications will soon be able to run across Netscape clients and the server on any platform, Andreessen explained in a recent interview.

To address the management of intranet content, Netscape will next year through a project code-named Gemini provide a JavaBean that adds XML support to its products, Andreessen said.

"We have a componentized rendering engine that's the basis for all our future client products called Gemini... and it is out in developer release now. Gemini will do both dynamic HTML and XML-based rendering. And, in its final release form next year, it will also do XML-based editing," Andreessen said.

Analysts said such services would be very valuable.

"The pieces have been coming into place for a platform to build applications. But can we manage this platform and component architecture to allow users to deploy, modify, and develop extranet applications? These services are needed," said Ezra Gottheil, director of Internet business strategies at the Hurwitz Group Inc., in Framingham, Massachusetts.

The XML rendering function, when it emerges next year, will itself be a JavaBean, meaning developers can plug it in to other applications, or Windows applications, Andreessen explained, "And you can extend it on the fly. And it will do full XML," he added.

"Gemini is aimed at being the component that would run in the front end and would provide the ability for users to create documents on the fly," Andreessen said. "Like with Communicator today, [which] lets you compose an email message, for example, in HTML. [Gemini] will also let you compose it in XML."

Such improved integration between Netscape's server suite and client family via JavaBeans support could also allow better management of its myriad server products, analysts said. Moving enterprise management into the Web class of servers is necessary for wider acceptance of intranets by large organizations, they said.

"Integration is key; it's a critical piece. They are starting to treat Web servers as real components of the enterprise," said J.P. Morgenthal, president of NC.Focus, in Hewlett, New York.

Beginning with the release of the Apollo version of SuiteSpot in mid-1998, Netscape will expose such services as messaging, directory, security, intelligent agents, and content management as JavaBeans so programmers can use them for accessing and relating objects in databases, Andreessen said.

"We also just shipped our Visual JavaScript tool, which lets you build drag-and-drop JavaBeans applications that run across both the client and the server visually," Andreessen said. "So there's a lot of momentum starting to take off behind JavaBeans because it's sort of the universal component model that a lot of people have been waiting for."

Netscape is expected to further coordinate its server management with its Directory Server and then extend it to mainstay corporate administration systems, such as HP OpenView, CA Unicenter, and Tivoli, using the SNMP standard.

Netscape Communications Corp. can be reached at http://home.netscape.com/.

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