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Understanding jCOM

WebLogic jCOM is an implementation of what is termed a Java/COM bridge, which can simply be defined as a software bridging mechanism for facilitating quick and easy access from Java applications to Microsoft COM/DCOM components. In turn, Microsoft COM applications can access Java-based objects through this mechanism as well. Beyond the relative simplicity of its implementation, the most appealing aspect of this approach is its transparency. To the Java programmer, a COM object looks the same as any other Java object. To the COM developer, remote Java objects appear as though they were native COM components. As found in these objects, data types are masked from view through dynamic type mappings done by the jCOM runtime engine. Remote object data types are dynamically translated into the primitive types found within the calling program's own idiom: COM data types appear like Java primitive types to the Java developer, whereas Java data types look like COM data types to the COM developer.

This transparency can help to satisfy the needs many companies have when struggling to reconcile the divergent approaches to distributed object technologies found in the Sun and Microsoft campsócamps that more often compete than cooperate.

jCOM helps to bridge the gap, as it were, that typically exists between Sun Java shops looking to maintain a Java-centric (and thus platform independent) environment and their Microsoft counterparts looking to leverage the use and reuse of the multitude of COM components that exist out there.

Currently, the BEA WebLogic jCOM source is entirely based on Intrinsyc Software's J-Integra product that was obtained through a licensing agreement between the two companies. The code base was originally developed by Linar, which Intrinsyc acquired in January of 2001. J-Integra entertains the largest install base of any pure Java/COM bridge out there and is fast becoming an industry standard. So far, integration efforts with WebLogic Server have been limited to installation and conformity issues. But going forward, BEA plans to increase the level of integration with J-Integra, improving scalability and manageability.

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