February 13, 1996
Java and the Web

02/13/96 RMIUG Meeting Minutes - Java and the Web

The Tuesday, February 13 meeting of the Rocky Mountain Internet Users Group (RMIUG) featured a high-level presentation on a new technology called Java that is profoundly impacting the World Wide Web. Mr. Dean Rizzuto (dean@xor.com), World Wide Web Developer with XOR Network Engineering, presented a non-technical overview of Java and how it will affect the Internet and impact Web users. The meeting started at 7:00 with Dan Murray welcoming people to our largest RMIUG meeting to date.

This month is RMIUG's 2-year anniversary -- we now have 1000+ members on our -announce mailing list. Thank you all for making RMIUG a success!

Announcements from the floor:

  • The Internet Chamber of Commerce (http://www.icc.org) is holding its next meeting on February 28th at 6pm (6-7pm is the pasta bar/networking and 7pm the speaker starts). The meeting is held at the Downtown Denver Embassy Suites. This month's speaker is Jack Rickard, the editor/publisher of Boardwatch.

  • Bob Wells (wells@lennox.com) is writing a book about cable modems and is looking for a good contact in the industry.

  • Joe Ilacqua (spike@indra.com) announced that Indra's Net is starting a dialup-ISDN service. They are currently looking for people that already have an ISDN line and ISDN hardware to beta-test the service for free.

  • CU's 48th annual Conference on World Affairs will be held on the CU campus in Boulder throughout the week of Apr. 8-12. This year it will include a fair amount of attention to Internet issues. This conference will also deal with many subjects besides the Internet (including, among others: world politics, music and the arts, gender issues, and environmental issues) Roger Ebert, Molly Ivans, Steve Allen, and many other well known writers, thinkers, artists, and scholars will be here. To learn more about the CWA, please check out their web site at: http://osiris.colorado.edu/~cwa/

  • Colorado HealthNet (CHN), a nonprofit corporation, provides Colorado information for persons with chronic illnesses, and includs facts and statistics, as well as information about local support services, treatment providers, medical resources, and new clinical and research developments. The chronic illnesses covered are: Arthritis, Asthma, Cancer, COPD (emphysema), Diabetes, Fibromyalgia, HIV/AIDS, Kidney Dialysis, Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, and Organ Transplants. CHN is also a one-stop information center in that it also contains information on Colorado-based insurers, HMOs, and PPOs. The URL for Colorado HealthNet is http://bcn.boulder.co.us/health/chn/

  • RMIUG has a new librarian -- Carroll Blend (cblend@tde.com). Thanks to Carroll for taking over this responsibility!

Dean's talk started with a general overview of Java -- what it is (a programming language) and what its components are (a compiler and an interpreter). He then moved on to discuss why Java is so revolutionary.

Java is the first widely accepted programming language which is "platform independent." This means that a user on a UNIX system and a user on a Windows 95 system can both download the same "bytecode" program, and then use their local Java interpreter to run it. No longer is it necessary to create individual runnable programs for each different type of machine.

Currently, Java is only supported on two interpreters/browsers: Netscape 2.0 and Sun Microsystem's HotJava (Sun is the developer of the Java language). Currently, the only supported platforms are Windows 95/NT and some UNIX platforms. Macintosh, OS/2, and others are coming soon.

On the Web, Java is used to create what are known as "applets." These are mini-programs written in the Java language. Through the Web, they are downloaded and then actually run inside the browser.

Although you need to be a programmer to develop in Java (Java is very similar to C++), many Java "applets" are easily reusable. For example, there are generic Java applets that can animate any series of images. You don't need to be a programmer to use the applet to animate your own Web page.

Dean also described Netscape's JavaScript, another programming language. Javascript can be "inlined" into HTML code and is easier to program than Java. Currently, JavaScript is only supported in Netscape's browser and is not as powerful as the real Java language.

One of the main concerns of Web users is that of security. Java has several security mechanisms in place to attempt to block any malicious intent.

Some of the implications of Java include:

  • The need for greater bandwidth (although Java applets are small, they usually have a lot of "baggage" with them, such as graphical animations).
  • "Good" Web sites will be the result of technical programmers rather than HTML markup.
  • There will be more interactive features and online games on the Web.

URLs mentioned in the talk:

General Java Information
Java Developer's Kit
Netscape 2.0
Getting Started with Java
HTML Applet Tag Information

RMIUG wishes to thank Internet One of Boulder for sponsoring the refreshments, NIST for the use of their meeting room, and XOR Network Engineering for maintenance of RMIUG's WWW site and email lists.

Suggestions/comments/feedback are always welcome - please email these to rmiug-comm@rmiug.org.

RMIUG has 3 email lists for its members. Send an Email to rmiug@rmiug.org for an auto-reply message with more information.

The Tuesday, March 12 meeting of the Rocky Mountain Internet Users Group (RMIUG) will feature a panel discussion called "Web Fest `96" on the strategic and business issues of commerce on the World Wide Web. Among the panelists will be Mark Richtermeyer, General Manager of Customer Communication Group's Online Division, and Shelli Meyers, President of Indra's Net, a Boulder-based Internet Service Provider. Panelists will be discussing case studies of actual businesses on the Internet, factors that lead to success, and business issues to consider when initiating a commercial Internet site. This non-technical presentation will be aimed at a broad audience, including businesses that are not yet familiar with the Internet, but are interested in the commercial possibilities of this rapidly developing medium.

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