Welcome to 1999. This is typically the time I make predictions about the coming year. Next year I'll get this issue out and have a good laugh at all the things I missed - and the few I actually get right. I'd be remiss in my editorial duty if I didn't make some predictions.
This promises to be an interesting and tumultuous year. By the time you read this, there will be fewer than 365 days left to fix Year 2000 issues. In most cases, if you haven't already started fixing your applications, you won't finish. How this applies to us as Java programmers is less clear. In many cases OUR code may be fine, but if it relies on other systems or interfaces, or even legacy databases, we may still have time bombs on our hands. I wish I could say confidently that we've all addressed these issues, but reports indicate that the majority of the industry is behind schedule in remediation and repair.
Look for this to be a banner year for the EJB camp. I know of over a dozen companies, including all the major vendors, that are rushing to complete an EJB server. The EJB specification is deliberately vague on a number of issues, so look for vendors to try to differentiate themselves by adding value with different services and approaches. Some vendors are taking a pure Java approach, while others are uniting CORBA and EJB in a server that is implemented in native code, rather than riding on top of a JVM. Everyone but Microsoft will have an EJB server - Oracle's even putting it directly into their database.
Don't expect large-scale production applications using EJB until the end of the century. (I love being able to say that!) There's only one production server I know of as I write this - by the time you read this there should be five or six. Given the lead time required to tool up and actually write a large application, it will be the third or fourth quarter before we see a proliferation of EJB apps.
Sun has won the first battle in the lawsuit with Microsoft. Although Microsoft could yank support for Java in their browser, I expect that they'll appeal the ruling and delay changing their implementation for as long as possible. Though I'm not a lawyer, it seems to me that Sun's case is pretty strong, so I expect that Microsoft will eventually replace the VM and get on with business. Anything else would drastically affect the usefulness of the browser.
JINI will make small inroads this year, waiting for hardware and other vendors to catch their collective Java breaths. Standards have been coming fast and furious from Javasoft, but it takes a while---and a certain industry will---to make a standard more than a document. JINI looks good, but there's a certain amount of inertia with such standards until sufficient mass builds around it. I don't think JINI will take off this year.
Version 1.2 will become the main standard, supplanting 1.1.x. I see this as a year-end reality, again waiting mainly for the browser vendors to come up to speed, particularly with the new security model. The sandbox approach for applets was an easy out for Microsoft and Netscape; implementing a real security model will require a greater amount of effort on their parts. Look to Microsoft to have the first implementation, and to try to corrupt the standard yet again by making the security system interact with NT Domains. That's completely my prediction; but given their current tack, it's something I think is likely to happen.
We've got an event-filled editorial schedule for this year - this month we're focusing on JavaBeans and tools for GUI development, in March we're looking at middle-tier servers and in May we'll be focusing on hot new Java technologies. Visit our Web site at www.sys-con.com for a more detailed look at our calendar and other JDJ daily features.
Finally, look for a revival of The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, riding a retro wave of century madness on the basis of his song "Tonight We're Gonna Party Like It's 1999." I can already see the bad commercials and advertisements starting. Happy New Year, and party on.
About the Author
Sean Rhody is the editor-in-chief of Java Developer's Journal. He is also a senior consultant with Computer Sciences Corporation, where he specializes in application architecture - particularly distributed systems.He can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]