Client-server application vendors are discovering that Java may be best when married to an ActiveX front end.
Some vendors are turning to Microsoft's ActiveX and other solutions to preen Java for Windows environments because of a perceived weakness in Java's AWT (Alternative Window Toolkit) interface library.
For example, Baan is developing Java applications with embedded ActiveX controls that can be launched by users in Windows environments. The move is needed to make Baan's Java-based applications look the same, whether they run under a Windows-based browser or in their native client-server environment.
By embedding ActiveX within the applications, Baan hopes to utilise Java benefits such as multiple platform capabilities and on-demand downloading of application functions while creating an effective Windows GUI.
PeopleSoft is also considering some sort of coupling between Java and ActiveX, but developers are looking at another third-party Java interface tool from Marimba.
"There's no question AWT is now a weak solution," said Richard Bergquist, vice president of technology at PeopleSoft.
Users, however, assert Java's potential benefits far outweigh its shortcomings.
"I think the cross-platform capability that Java can bring would be terrific," said PeopleSoft user Kelvin Goon, vice president and general manager of internal information systems at PRC.
Baan's Java work is of particular industry interest because of the company's close ties with Sun Microsystems' Java business unit, JavaSoft.
Just two weeks ago, the companies announced a partnership with the intent of tying Java objects to relational databases.
The Baan applications, which users should start to see over the next few months, will deploy the ActiveX GUI when a Windows user is identified by either entering a password or clicking a button on the application's initial screen.
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