August 29, 1997 6:30 PM ET=20
Netscape marries Web, legacy data
By Michael Moeller, PC Week Online
=A0 NEW YORK -- Netscape Communications Corp. is looking to bring corporate
desktops and Web data closer together through a new JavaBean HTML rendering
Gemini, the code name for Netscape's forthcoming engine and browsing
technology, will provide users with easier access to Web data from within
custom applications and give developers a more flexible architecture for
marrying HTML with legacy data, company officials said at the Java Internet
Business Expo here this week.
Netscape will demonstrate Gemini in two weeks during a briefing at its
Mountain View, Calif., headquarters.
Gemini is due in the first quarter of next year as part of Sun Microsystems
Inc.'s Java Development Kit. It was first unveiled in March as part of
Netscape's long-term Networked Enterprise strategy, which includes Apollo
servers and Mercury clients.
Netscape and Sun are collaborating to make the Gemini JavaBean the common
HTML engine for all Java environments, officials said.
The engine's impact could be widespread. Because it is based on JavaBean
technology, tool vendors can add the rendering engine into their products,
in turn enabling corporate developers to integrate HTML viewing and
presentations with their applications.
"This could make Web-based data part of your stand-alone application," said
Lisa Nitzberg, vice president in the equities group at JP Morgan & Co., in
New York. "It would be even more powerful if I could enable it to work with
standard applications that are already in use in our client/server systems."
Gemini will leverage some of the core capabilities of JDK 1.2, including
features such as Lotus Development Corp.'s InfoBus Java component
communications technology, to enable transparent data transfers and
communications between Gemini and other Java applications.
As a result, Gemini will enable developers to construct Java clients that,
for example, use a Common Object Request Broker Architecture JavaBean to
link to a back-end system and have that data be rendered by the Gemini
JavaBean within an HTML form.
Gemini promises to blend and render at run-time content pulled from a
variety of sources, including HTML pages, corporate databases or file
servers, said sources close to Netscape.
The technology brings to desktops an embedded functionality similar to what
Microsoft Corp. offers with its Internet Explorer 3.0 ActiveX control for
client applications such as Lotus Notes.
But Gemini retains Java's security model. And its cross-platform nature is
a big draw within the developer community, said Samir Arora, president and
CEO of NetObjects Inc., the Redwood City, Calif., maker of the Fusion HTML
"Having JavaBeans that can communicate is very powerful in that it can
enable developers to extend their application and our application," said
"Our rendering component is a huge step toward making HTML a piece of an
application," said Mike Homer, executive vice president of marketing and
sales at Netscape. "This is a bigger issue for developers than users. The
HTML rendering engine fills a big hole for us."
This week at the Java conference, Netscape joined with Sun and IBM in
announcing plans to create the Java Porting and Tuning Center. The center
has been set up to ensure that a consistent Java Virtual Machine will be
deployed across the vendors' respective platforms.
In another compatibility move, Sun will include in future versions of the
JDK a feature that will enable an applet to scan a local computer for a
resident virtual machine, JavaSoft officials said. This will allow the
applet to execute in its intended run-time environment.
--- Rohit Khare /// MCI Internet Architecture (BOS) /// email@example.com Voice+Pager: (617) 960-5131 VNet: 370-5131 Fax: (617) 960-1009