New Tool Aimed at Java Developers

Microsoft's J# offers integration with vs .Net, .Net framework.

Microsoft Corp. is making another push to attract Java developers to its .Net platform.

The Redmond, Wash., software company last week announced the availability of Visual J# .Net, a Java development tool for building applications and XML Web services on .Net Framework. The tools release rounds out Microsofts language offerings in its Visual Studio .Net platform, which also includes Visual C++ .Net, Visual C# .Net and Visual Basic .Net.

Visual J# .Net features tight integration with Visual Studio .Net; integration with .Net Framework, including cross-language integration; and tools to upgrade Visual J++ 6.0—which Visual J# .Net replaces—to the Visual Studio .Net format, said Tony Goodhew, Microsofts product manager for Visual J# .Net.

"We think well be able to gain 15 to 20 percent of the Java language development market" with the new product, Goodhew said.

Goodhew said Visual J# .Net provides an easy transition for Java-language developers into the world of XML Web services. He also said it improves interoperability between Java programs and existing software written in other languages because of its tight integration with the .Net platform and its Common Language Runtime.

Chris Maeda, chief technology officer at Kana Inc., said the customer relationship management developer already ships Web-enabled eCRM applications on the Java 2 Enterprise Edition platform.

However, "we wanted to have native .Net apps as well, but we could not afford to have duplicate code bases or duplicate development teams," said Maeda, in Menlo Park, Calif. "Visual J# allows us to have a single Java language code base that we can compile and ship on both platforms. Without Visual J#, we would not be able to ship our apps on the .Net platform."

A key aspect of the product is that "the debugging environment is fantastic. Its really easy to debug multiple-language, multiple-process distributed applications," Maeda said. "After years of debugging distributed apps using print statements, its nice to come back to integrated tools that work."

Alibre Inc., a Richardson, Texas, mechanical design system supplier, is using J# to migrate Alibre Design, an extensive mechanical CAD application, to .Net.

"J# allows us to minimize the migration effort of our Java-based application, as well as minimize the retraining required for our developers to move to .Net," said Alibre CTO Steve Emmons.

Emmons said that Alibre started using J++ in 1997 before the legal battle between Microsoft and Sun Microsystems Inc. over Java and that it chose Microsofts solution "because it was the best tool for Java development and Microsoft had the fastest JVM [Java virtual machine] for Windows."

Sun, of Santa Clara, Calif., filed one lawsuit in 1997 and another in March against Microsoft. The March lawsuit, now pending, claims that Microsoft has used anti-competitive tactics to maintain and expand its monopoly power. Microsoft last month announced it will provide a JVM for Windows XP, an about-face on plans not to supply a JVM for Windows.

Visual J# .Net is available for current Visual Studio .Net customers from either the Microsoft Web site at or from the MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network) download area at for MSDN subscription customers.