Gang of Four plans to extend CORBA to support JavaBeans

Three months into their touted object alliance, the 'Gang of Four' companies have agreed on basic methods to bring JavaBeans more in line with the CORBA specification in their unified attempt to fight off Microsoft. IBM, Netscape, Oracle and Sun Microsystems this week jointly published a position paper that details specific enhancements to the CORBA specification in an attempt to foster integration with other component models, most notably JavaBeans.

Three months into their touted object alliance, the companies that comprise "The Gang of Four" have agreed on basic methods to bring JavaBeans more in line with the CORBA specification in their unified attempt to fight off Microsoft.

The Gang of Four - IBM, Netscape, Oracle and Sun Microsystems - this week jointly published a position paper that details specific enhancements to the CORBA specification in an attempt to foster integration with other component models, most notably JavaBeans.

The four companies have jointly generated Request for Proposals (RFPs) to the Object Management Group (OMG), which are expected to be voted on in a meeting in Montreal later this month. The RFPs are for a component model; scripting, which will be based on JavaScript; and an Internet naming service.

The four have also agreed to combine forces on two existing OMG projects. The first is Objects By Past Value, an essential Java capability that will now become a CORBA feature, and the second involves multiple-interface support, another basic Java capability.

"What you are basically seeing here is the continued intertwining of Java and CORBA," says Chris Stone, chief executive officer of the OMG, in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Some of the proposed enhancements will enable visual development tools to automatically generate JavaBean interfaces for CORBA-compliant components, a step most observers see as essential.

"Developing for CORBA right now is very difficult. It is a little like brain surgery. What you want is to have something like a JavaBeans component framework available to jump-start your enterprise development. This is a step that lets those users do that," says Melinda Ballou, a senior research analyst at the Meta Group.

Separately, JavaSoft officials more aggressively endorsed CORBA for large corporate accounts doing sophisticated development in heterogeneous environments, noting that Java Remote Method Invocation (RMI) should be restricted to small Java-to-Java applications.

But one official argues that the RMI protocol has inherent advantages.

"Interoperability is the primary value of Internet Inter-ORB Protocol [IIOP]. RMI gives you the ability to download code dynamically with safety. RMI is more about ease-of-use and flexibility if you're programming both sides of a distributed application in Java," says Jim Mitchell, JavaSoft vice president of technology. He added that combining RMI and IIOP would not be feasible.

The collaborators unveiled their CORBA plans this week at the Netscape Developer Conference.

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