Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

Re: Jini Jini Jini (Zzzzz?)

Author:Tom Fuerstner
Posted:1/27/1999; 9:36:12 AM
Topic:Jini Jini Jini (Zzzzz?)
Msg #:2535 (In response to 2534)
Prev/Next:2534 / 2536

In the age of the internet it is to easy to forget, to easy to live without any sense for historical implications. Maybe this is one of the reasons why we are condemned to make the same mistakes over and over again in the software business.

To understand jini i think it is necessary to know how it roots back into the eighties to a meanwhile almost forgotten peace of software called hypercard and an idea to revolutionize the IT-business - written down in whitepaper called pocket crystal. As many other software-innovations this story started at a company called apple. The main characters playing an important role in these days of the beginning are Bill Atkinson, Andy Hertzfeld and Marc Porat. >> Pocket Crystal was the putative answer to the question: "Where do we go after the personal computer?".<<

Out of and funded by apple,sony,motorola,at&t and others they started General Magic.The intention was to build an ubiquitous computing system based on highly personalized devices that enable everyone to stay connected and get connected easily to important information and knowledge. These devices were called MagicCaps. The MagicCap devices were also bundled with a remarkable software solution named TeleScript. All in all both hard- and software were brilliant but sad to say to advanced and sophisticated to fit the average it-market of the late eighties and early ninties. Comnsequently General Magic as a company lost twice. The first time when apple released the Newton which was in many aspects a more or less well done MagicCap device ( or how i prefer to say: a hypercard machine) and secondly when the fabulous TeleScript language was overrolled by the rise of the internet and the most hyped language of all times: Java.

Meanwhile General Magic has undergone several transformations and the two main products are almost forgotten. Beside the fact that Telescript was renamed to Tabriz and then poorly reimplemented in java under the brand odyseey. Shortly after this TeleScript vanished into the digital nirvana.... till it now arises out of the ashes (or should i better say : out of the bottle )as the genious sun-product jini.

TeleScript was a real innovation and brought a lot of new programming paradigms to the world of IT, beautyful things like Agent-technology through remote programming instead of simply remote method invocation or remote procedure calling. TeleScript meant really autonomous programming-code-entities floating through nets of all kinds.TeleScript also created a lot of new connotations like Agentspaces ( now javaspaces ), new programming terms and commands like go and meet and travel, etc.... There is still so much to learn from TeleScript

To make TeleScript a real Agentlanguage with pieces of code to travel anywhere the General Magic team had to solve a lot of problems. Three of the more prominent ones are security, object serialization and a small VM with no overload. And this is where jini seems to be really awkward compared to TeleScript and why I love Userland Frontier which seems ( and this is no joke ) much more appropriate to be a well done TeleScript mockup than jini.

Actually in so many areas frontier can help you to solve the same programming problems than jini but in a much more transparent fashion. Shure today frontier is just running on a few Operating Systems. But make Frontier compile to some kind of java VM bytecode and it also runs everywhere. ( still i would prefer an ubiquitous telescript VM )

Maybe in the future........ ?

Finally i am convinced that the fact that TeleScript had been implemented so much better than jini will ever be done is simply that TeleScript roots back to HyperCard; the first and only tool that brought programming to everyone ever. Thats why TeleScript is revolutionary and innovative with a special human touch and jini is another peace of technocratic crap .

By, tom fuerstner, a european programmer with a distinct interest in the art and history of computing and a man always working for the furure.

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