News and commentary from the cross-platform scripting community.
Mail Starting 6/18/97
I made a couple of quick calls/emails to some lawyer friends. You are getting bad information from your credit card company. First, you send letter or fax disputing the charges and come off bill immediately while charge company gets verification from ISP. If they say, lookie signed contract, they must provide it to the credit card company which must, in turn, provide it to you. If no contract and you provide signed notice of cancellation, charges come off and, if they continue to appear on your bill, the credit card company, like they did with many AOL accounts, refuse the charges so the ISP can't bill the card. Happens all the time. But, you must do this stuff in writing or you don't get your rights under the fair credit collection act and other such legal things, protected. If the credit card company doesn't follow the rules, they get in trouble, can't collect, and a quick not to your state attorney general's consumer protection/fraud division solves the problem. Been there, done that. Helps to have a mother who teaches law!
From: rsegal@Exchange.MICROSOFT.com (Rick Segal (Exchange));
Sent at 6/19/97; 3:48:55 AM;
I'm in Israel, boy they have the best phone connections I've seen anyplace. Real 28.8 connections.
Wasn't clear in your Java/direct article if you thought we were doing good or bad thing. I am biased in favor of giving developers ways to make money and not so much concerned about pure anything so I read the piece with that filter on.
Dave, in the netherlands we have a system that will test ISP's. It is called http://www.fileweb.nl/. It will give you a 'state of the internet number', how fast is the internet in general at this day and time. Also, it will give you for every ISP the speed. It will connect to 20 places on the web, test the throughput and create a speed numbes which can be compared.
From: email@example.com (Vincent Everts);
Sent at 6/19/97; 8:50:12 AM;
Testing ISP's already exists in the netherlands
You can also do a checkup of your own current connection.
Check it out, if you can figure out dutch (not difficult) it is very handy.
I went to the web innovations conference in San Jose this week and saw a "killer app" called "Emblaze". It produces streaming audio and video, animations, etc. using pure Java. Ergo: no plug-ins other than Java. Anyway, in experimenting with it http://www.emblaze.com/, I had lots of trouble getting the Java apps to run on my Mac. But the author of the program told me "just wait till MacOS 8: the Java engine is faster than a PC".
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (John Springer);
Sent at 6/18/97; 8:47:24 PM;
So with the right engineering applied in the right ways, maybe the Mac can still be a great Java platform.
Java is touted as cross platform, and it certainly has that potential. But right now, it is only functional on Java (and semi-functional on Unix).
From: email@example.com (Bruce Martin);
Sent at 6/18/97; 5:21:35 PM;
This is not strictly Sun's fault. Sun could do a wonderful job, and the big-name platforms (browsers) could still ignore alternative platforms. After all, what market penetration does HotJava have?
It is a classic catch-22. Do you focus your resources on the most common platform, hoping to enhance the popularity of Java? Or do you spread your resources ensuring that your promise of cross platform capability actually means something.
Reminds me of what happens when you loose genetic diversity in a population. Dominant characteristics get a little out of control.
I could see this DaveNet coming from a mile away, considering the JDirect announcement. But I don't think the only problem Sun has is that there is no killer 'cloud' of applications available for the Java 'platform'. I think the problem is simpler, and that you have already put your finger on it.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jack Bell);
Sent at 6/18/97; 4:44:14 PM;
You are entirely correct in one thing; there is a fundamental disconnect happening. If Java is just another language Sun loses. In fact they may well lose everything because they can't own the Server market anymore than they were able to own the Works tation market. So Sun *must* continue to push Java as a platform. They cannot afford to look at the world with anything other than Java colored glasses.
Microsoft, on the other hand, is not simply being predatory (although there is always a little of that with MS). They are just pointing out the obvious; Java is a language pretending to be a platform, and will be until all the pieces required to make it into a great platform exist (meaning, probably never). And developers go where the money is, even when their hearts say something else. As always the money is to develop apps that provide good performance on the greatest possible number of machines. Tr anslation? On Windows systems using direct calls to the OS.
In a way this is history repeating itself. In the early '80s there was a database development package called dBase II from a company called Ashton-Tate. It ran on several different platforms and succeeded (at least partially) because it provided many pl atform like capabilities - including a command prompt. By the time the next version came out they had several competitors, most of whom emulated their basic design, but not the underlying specifics (Rbase, Revelation, etc.).
With the new version Ashton-Tate made several interesting moves. Among other things they de-emphasized the multi-platform support and improved the command language to the point it was a real programming language. But they insisted that it still was real ly a platform, not a language, and that dBase III (and later dBase III Plus) could be ported to multiple systems in such a way that a user would see no difference. They also claimed they would improve the speed and feature set sometime real soon.
But they were slow in meeting their promises, when they finally did come out with dBase IV it was a considerable disappointment (bloated and incompatible). And the attempts to port to different systems (the Mac for example) showed that what people really wanted was not the same-old-same-oh on each system, but something that worked the way their system did. Not the dBase way.
About this same time Ashton-Tate got new competitors. Software companies that figured what was really good about dBase was the language, not the platform. So they produced improved versions of the language (read 'faster'). At one point there were at le ast five different flavors of what became known as the 'xBase' language, the most successful of which was Foxbase.
The point of this history lesson is what happened next. If history really does repeat itself then the next step will be for Sun to sue anyone producing a version of Java which is not approved by Sun (100% pure). They will have a somewhat better case tha n Ashton-Tate did because many of the companies they will sue would have developed their version of Java under an agreement with Sun (which does give them a few teeth). Also, while dBase was derived from the public domain language JPLDI, Java was built f rom the ground up by Sun (although you could claim Java was derived from Smalltalk, C and C++).
Oh, the moral of the story? Ashton-Tate lost their case and had their copyright invalidated (basically the court recognized that a language is a language is a language although what may have hurt them most was not disclosing to the court that the languag e had public domain roots). Foxbase ended up owning the xBase market (and Fox Software ended up being owned by Microsoft). Ashton-Tate lost marketshare so badly they were eventually bought up by Borland at fire sale prices (Borland still [sort of] marke ts a version of the language called, of all things, Visual dBase). And the dBase 'platform'? It died a well deserved death because it was not (and could never be) what the market really wanted at the time; a GUI. Evolution in action.
I predict that Sun will start making legal noises soon. I also predict they will lose, at least partially because of the precedents set by the Ashton-Tate case. In fact I predict that they will lose in the long run even if they win a legal fight. The real winners in the latter case will be the stockholders of the few companies that decided to try producing a 'clean-room' version of Java without an agreement with Sun. Can we say 'Big-Bucks-Buy-Out'? I knew we could... -- Jack
P.S. I did some searches for info on the Ashton-Tate suit (isn't the Internet great?). I found the following URLS; http://www.sgpdlaw.com/software_copyright/summaries/atfoxsm.htm
Currently, the killer app might be Visual Basic. Companies can use it to create custom solutions. It is like Hyper/Super Card on steroids. Not as hard to learn as a real C++ compiler, but not as slow or limited (when you are trying to develop a real application) as a scripting language. Sure, you could get faster results with Visual C, but it is slower, and requires more experience.
From: email@example.com (Matt Maurano);
Sent at 6/18/97; 4:30:31 PM;
My Amiga is Dead. My Mac is Dead. You may believe yours is not but you will live to see it consumed. See, all the options eventually die out and there is only one solution. And then something better comes along and surplants that one solution giving us many again. Look at floppy disks. There were 5 1/4, 8 inch, 3 1/2 sd dd and hd. Then for about a year everything was 3 1/2 hd. Now floppy disks are dead; they've been replaced by higher density removable media like zip disks, and there are many varieties. Look at monitors. Color Computers and C64's hooked up to your television and had proprietary RGB type formats as well. Older computers had many different types of video output. Mac used a different one for a long time, I think also RGB. Now they are all the same.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jason Pump);
Sent at 6/18/97; 12:13:52 PM;
To be more specific, I love TLAs. ILTLAs? Too many characters. Two is not enough, five is too many, four only works if it can be pronounced.
From: SHELLYJ@wagged.com (Shelly Julien);
Sent at 6/18/97; 11:12:57 AM;
Re:I Love Acronyms
Apple agrees with Microsoft. They say that Java will be such a first-class citizen in Rhapsody that you'll be able to mix and match Java and Objective-C objects in your software.
From: email@example.com (Wesley Felter);
Sent at 6/18/97; 10:40:55 AM;
Many Be developers, including some at Metrowerks, are begging Be to provide the BeOS C++ API in Java. Java is like C++, but safer and easier to program in. The 100% pure issue only concerns which libraries you're using. And soon native compilers will make it irrelevant which libraries you're using, because people will simultaneously ship native code for multiple platforms that build out of the same source. Java is just a language