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© 1997-2006
Gareth Knight
All Rights reserved

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Coffee? I only have Java.

Over the last few years one of the major developments has been to do with Java. Java is a system-independent language that is interpreted by the operating system and executed. It retains its independence by running on a Java Virtual Machine. These can be seen as emulators that allow the computer, any computer to execute the Java code. However, unlike emulators which run the code of another computer, the Java machine does not actually exist. Whilst other computer users have had support for Java built-in to the latest version of their OS the Amiga has been left out. Fortunately, the Amiga is supported by a dynamic group of people that will not accept that Java will not run on their beloved system, resulting in a number of attempts at creating a Java virtual machine on the Amiga.

Compiling

The downside to Java is the slow speed at which it runs. Every time a program is executed the Java machine has to go through every line and execute it. Imagine AMOS running an application through the editor and you get some idea of how slow it is. This led Sun, the Java creators, to develop a compiler which they named "Just In Time". The name arises from the fact that it is compiled after the program has been downloaded rather than during the download process. The compiler, like the ARexx compilers that are currently available, takes the original code and compiles it for the operating system that it is running on. The compiled program will then run much faster but, contrary to Java's original intentions will no longer run on any other OS than the one it was compiled on.

Software

Whilst Netscape have shelved their Javagator web browser and Corel seem unlikely to release anything for Java after their failed Corel Java Office there is still a huge range of Java applications available. The release of the Netscape source code has led to the development of a third party version of Navigator, known as Jazilla. There are a number of other programs including text editors, spreadsheets and some simple games. There are even Java emulators available that run ZX81, C64 and Atari ST software. And remember, these are all free and available on the internet.

 



Java Virtual Machines currently available or in development

Amjay

An Amiga-specific Java implementation. It is still in the early stages of development.

Status: In development

Guavac

A Linux-based Java compiler written in C++. It is quite slow and should only be used for those who are familiar with Unix.

Status: Alive

Kaffe

The Amiga version of Kaffe is based upon Unix code and it shows. It is a CLI-based program, slow, and is slightly difficult, but not impossible to use. Bizarrely, it is quite interesting to use and you get the feeling that you are part of a global user group testing the program. I suppose this is due to it being written for different processors.

Status: Alive and in a constant process of development.

Merapi

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A commercial Java interpreter and JIT compiler from Haage & Partner. Allegedly it is one of the fastest compiled Java implementations on any system. As would be expected from Haage & Partner, versions for 68k and PowerPC-based Amigas, as well as pOS, will be released. It will be closely linked to the VoyagerNG web browser. No release date has been announced.

Status: In development

MOca

Like Merapi above, this is a commercial Java interpreter and Just In Time compiler from Finale Developments. It is developed to interact with their new Web browser, Web Cruiser and will be available in AmigaOS and pOS versions running on both 68k, and PPC.

Status: In development

P'Jami

P'Jami is a very early attempt at a JVM. It is lacking in quite a number of respects with development being stopped since 1996.

Status: Dead

 

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