Vendors aim to close gap between ActiveX, Java

Hoping to give customers the tools needed to bridge rival Web architectures from Sun and Microsoft, tool vendors are using Internet World in New York to unveil myriad products that span the tangle of languages, component models and platforms that now confronts developers.

Hoping to give customers the tools needed to bridge rival Web architectures from Sun and Microsoft, tool vendors are using Internet World in New York to unveil myriad products that span the tangle of languages, component models and platforms that now confronts developers.

Microsoft and Sun are pursuing rival component strategies, which means developers are looking for tools that will allow them to generate both ActiveX and Java code.

"Developers can't commit up front entirely to being in one environment or another," says Stan Dolberg, an analyst with Forrester Research, a market research company in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "When you create applications that use either or both, you need mechanisms in the development environment to provide at least some baseline interoperability between the two."

To help developers survive in a world of disjointed software component technologies, Burlington, Massachusetts-based Sanga International plans is announcing at the show this week that its Sanga Pages Web development software supports the Java Beans component model and ActiveX controls. An updated version is slated for the second quarter.

Meanwhile, Sun division JavaSoft is launching the beta of its Java Beans reference implementation and the availability of its Java Beans developer's kit. JavaSoft is also planning to demonstrate its Java-Beans-to-ActiveX bridge.

Also addressing the need to cross component boundaries is TVObjects, which is demonstrating an updated version of its Applet Designer Professional that lets Visual Basic developers generate Java applets from within Visual Basic. The Princeton, New Jersey, company is highlighting the product's Java Database Connectivity database-access support, help wizards, component reuse and Java-based grid control.

In a similar vein, IBM has a prerelease version of Rexx for Java on show, a tool that allows developers versed in the company's NetRexx scripting language to generate Java code. IBM is also demonstrating AppletAuthor, a graphical Java Beans component assembly tool that will enter beta testing this month and is slated to ship in the first quarter.

From Powersoft comes a Java rapid application development tool, code-named Starbuck.

In addition to tools that span ActiveX and Java, developers are also being treated to tools designed to link Java and ActiveX applications to legacy applications running on databases.

For example, Thought, based in San Francisco, is to announce the shipment of CocoBase, a centrally managed middleware product written in Java that eliminates the need to execute Java code on servers.

Bluestone, based in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, is nearing beta availability of Sapphire Web 3.0.

And San Francisco-based Macromedia is to introduce Version 2.0 of its Backstage Internet Studio.

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