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Intrinsyc's Ja.NET—Extending the Reach of .NET Remoting  : Page 4

Java/.NET communication just got easier. Intrinsyc's Ja.NET tool lets you make remote bi-directional calls between Java and .NET applications, either through HTTP/SOAP or the faster TCP/binary channel. Even in this initial version, you can pass objects both by reference and by value. It's a great start, and with a little work, the next version will be killer.


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You've seen the basics for using Ja.NET to communicate between a .NET client application and a Java server application. Here's a brief list of Ja.NET's other features. First and foremost, you can use both .NET Remoting channels: the HTTPChannel using a SOAP wire format and the TCPChannel with its proprietary, smaller binary format. You manage object lifetime using leases, which you can configure in Janetor for client-activated objects. Different from .NET Remoting, server-side Java singletons are not lifetime managed (in .NET they can timeout as well) and exist for the full lifetime of the application. All this functionality is available regardless of whether you're running either Java or .NET on either the client or the server side. Ja.NET is completely bi-directional!

What's Missing?
.NET Remoting is a fairly new technology and Ja.NET 1.0 has been only recently released; therefore some of the more advanced features are not yet implemented (most of them are nevertheless officially or unofficially announced for the next release or service pack). For example, in this version it's impossible to use sponsors with client-activated objects because the lifetime management is based on leases alone. Other things not yet possible are using events and out or in/out parameters. However, Intrinsyc has announced that the next version will support transparent mapping of .NET and Java collection classes. Read the Manual!
If you want to use or evaluate Ja.NET: read the manual! It's a very brief but absolutely essential read. Using the Janetor, GenNet, and GenJava tools is not as straightforward and intuitive as one might wish. Sometimes you have to enter relative paths, sometimes absolute paths; sometimes you need to enter the .DLL extension but in other places it must not be present—the user interface doesn't really help you here.

Download and installation were absolutely straightforward.
If mysterious exceptions (like the already mentioned NullReferenceException) begin to occur in an otherwise perfect program, check all the data you recently changed in these tools. It's quite likely you have inadvertently entered something in a wrong format. Summary
In my opinion, Ja.NET is a great step in the right direction. Opening .NET Remoting to Java seems like a natural thing to do and Intrinsyc did a good job implementing it. When compared to other Web Service toolkits or application servers, the pricing is reasonable: Ja.NET is priced by machine (not by CPU!). The machine license also includes ten licenses for development, testing, and staging. A notable (and unfortunately not yet very common) bonus is that Intrinsyc also officially supports Ja.NET running on the open source JBoss application server. Ja.NET comes with a 60-day evaluation license, which should give you more than enough time to try it with your applications.


The sloppy tool user interfaces and Ja.NET's not-so-helpful error messages make first-time evaluation a little bit harder but shouldn't affect your day-to-day work after you get used to them. Ja.NET is definitely capable of solving some of today's most daunting tasks in cross platform applications, especially because it supports fast TCP channel and client-activated objects—two things which aren't available with classic Web Services toolkits. I'm really looking forward to receiving the next version, because the announced features will make Ja.NET a killer application.



Ingo Rammer is cofounder and CEO of Sycom Software, an Austrian software consulting company. During his professional career he has worked with a wide range of programming platforms, although he now focuses primarily on Visual Basic, Java, and the .NET platform. His book "Advanced .NET Remoting" was published by Apress in April 2002. You can reach him by browsing to http://www.DotNetRemoting.cc .
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