Monday, October 7, 1996 by Dave Winer.
The team that delivered Java at Sun Microsystems and spun off into a separate Kleiner-Perkins funded startup, Marimba Inc, has announced a pair of new products, Bongo and Castanet.
Hey -- if there was ever any doubt if the product naming genius that came up with the Java brand left with this group, the debate is now over. Cast-a-net! Wow. Wish I had thought of that name. Brilliant! It's very powerful.
What about the products, are they brilliant and powerful too? Yes. There are so many holes in the software world today, it's nice to see people taking a chance at filling a couple of very big ones.
Bongo is Marimba's UI design tool for Java code. It extends the Java runtime environment beyond the toolkit that Sun provides, known as AWT. It's guis built by gui. It looks very powerful. It's also aimed at script writers. That's cool too.
Castanets are those little shells you hold in your hand while dancing to Latin music. It's also a client and a server, or tuner and transmitter, using Marimba's terminology. If you have an application that can be broken down into components, Castanet will keep the client's version in synch with the server's version of the same structure. This works for Java bits, but can actually be used for any kind of data that's stored in a hierarchic filing system.
Synchronization software that runs over the Internet. Nice. I'd like to use it.
I had to get a PC to get Pointcast. I also had to get a PC to try out Marimba's stuff. There's no Mac version, just Solaris and Windows.
The Java situation on the Mac is confusing. It's clear that Microsoft and Apple are not cooperating. It's also clear that Microsoft is hiring the best talent in the Mac Java world, having just recruited Rich Scorer from JavaSoft and Chris Evans and Rick Eames from Natural Intelligence. Metrowerks has always been a close ally of Microsoft's. Apple may not want to work with Microsoft, but Microsoft isn't giving up just yet. Hmmm.
Where is Netscape? They've got their own entry in the Java Runtime sweepstakes. Theirs is actually shipping, in Netscape 3.0. It's the only widely deployed Java Runtime on the Mac. But Java bits only run inside the browser with Netscape, and Marimba and others want to run outside of the browser.
Which one should Marimba and other Java developers deploy with? Time will tell. In the meantime it's confusing, and is leading to a bad situation where Java-based stuff deploys on Windows and Sun but not on the Mac.
A lose-lose-lose situation. Yuck!
We're in the final stages of the endgame on the project that's kept me from writing DaveNet pieces for the last few weeks. I'm really tired! I wanted to get this story out about Marimba and the Mac Java situation. I also want to write about the new stuff we've been doing, but that will have to wait. I have some gardening to do (chrysanthemums are blooming!), and more goodies to ship. I want to wait until my perspective is fresher before writing about the new software in DaveNet.
PS: In Spanish, castaneta is a chestnut; in French, castagnette.
PPS: Marimba is at http://www.marimba.com/.