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Java JEFF Inches To Market

JEFF, a new Java-language file format, is making noise this week after final consideration by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in Rennes, France.

The standard (ISO/IEC 20970), as specified by Cupertino, Calif.-based J Consortium, is a ready-to-execute binary format for object-oriented programs, especially Java programs, which is quite a departure from usual text-based Java languages. J Consortium Wednesday published the standard in electronic and hardcopy formats for sale.

Product vendors are looking at JEFF as the key factor for small devices such as PDA, cellular phones, set-top-boxes and point-of-sale electronic fund transfer terminals.

The JEFF standard generated a great deal of interest when it was initially published in March 2001. The ISO approved the JEFF standard in March 2002 and J Consortium began looking for help to make it more marketable. However, JEFF was developed without an official Java Specification Request and was created outside the usual Java Community Process.

The standard has already caught the attention of companies like AED, Aonix, Cardsoft, Ericsson, Hewlett-Packard, Ingenico and Trusted Logic.

The group says JEFF drastically cuts the requirements for run-time memory and makes the usual class file format twice as small without any compression. But because Java programs written for mobile platforms and the pipes that deliver them are relatively small, the need for JEFF has been light at best.

"JEFF has been a low priority because of those two factors," said Sun Microsystems Java Software group manager Ken Tallman. "As the size of the bandwidth for mobile devices increases, the size of the file will become more and more important. The applications that people download today are fairly small. Your typical Java phone game is measured in small numbers of kilobytes. My understanding of JEFF is that it can make the file smaller, but the typical Java file format is not that large, so right now the relative savings is so small its not that critical."

Tallman also points out that without an official blessing from the Java Community, the standard may suffer from compatibility issues. J Consortium is not affiliated with Java's creator Sun Microsystems but the company has been invited to join.

"My biggest concern is that they did not go through the usual Java Specification Request. It's all about compatibility," "The community was created so that all Java software works together. Without it, there is no guarantee.

J Consortium said its members are comprised of companies and individuals dedicated to accelerating the use of Java technologies in real-time and embedded applications.

The group says since broadband wireless is on the horizon, its ISO certification should suffice for now and help it succeed in the long run.

"Now that the JEFF standard is readily available, and now that our request for proposals ended successfully, we expect to make a generator and dumper for JEFF publicly available very soon," said Jean-Paul Billon, Chairman of J Consortium JEFF Working Group. "Then we also expect to see more and more people to use it and make it a true market standard."