Many of the capabilities that are so exciting to JavaBeans developers are not available on ActiveX, or are incomplete. There is, therefore, a need for a set of conversion conventions and tools designed to convert desktop ActiveX components into JavaBeans components. The resulting Beans will be usable in both in new network savvy e-business applications as well as traditional desktop applications, including ActiveX containers. Developers and customers benefit from the advantages offered by JavaBeans by simply leveraging their current investments in ActiveX.
The JavaBeans Migration Assistant for ActiveX contains an tool that uses the ActiveX information available in the registry or a disk file, to create a set of methods, properties and enums that an equivalent Bean would implement to achieve the same function. Data types are mapped from Windows-specific types to their equivalent Java programming language types.
The Migration Assistant provides a graphical interface that displays the individual elements of an ActiveX component that is loaded. The developer may choose at this time to produce a bean that implements the entire ActiveX component using provided default mappings, or may customize the output. For creating a custom bean, the elements of the ActiveX are displayed in three categories; properties and methods, events and enums. The developer may select those elements desired to include in the created.
When the developer has selected the elements to migrate, Java source code is generated as a framework for subsequent 100% Pure Java implementation. Generated event code is incorporated into the JavaBeans event handling model. The Beans are fully compliant with the JavaBeans specifications.
The Bean is now ready to accept the component implementation code. Typically this will involve copying C++ code into the generated Bean, converting the language constructs to the Java programming language (mostly trivial) and adapting code to Java APIs.
In a subsequent release, the tool will add the capability to do 'round-trip' code generation. This will allow developers to migrate a portion of the ActiveX component initially, then to rerun the tool again at a later time to incorporate more of the elements of the ActiveX while retaining the modifications that had been made to the initial Bean.
If you are an ActiveX developer, and you want to participate in the growing JavaBeans market, this is the fastest way to leverage your existing investment to gain an early foothold in this new market. The JavaBeans Bridge for ActiveX ensures that your Java software development time allows you to deliver both to your existing customers and to this new market.
If you are a customer that has invested in developing ActiveX components for in-house applications, and you want to be able to leverage the existing components in creating new applications for your corporate intranet or e-business applications, this tool provides a standard migration path for your development staff to quickly adapt existing code and skills to the Java platform. As a benefit of migrating from ActiveX to JavaBeans, the advantages of developing for the Java platform including faster cycle times, reduced component complexity and delivering to multiple platforms with one source image - not multiple versions - are realized.
IBM and Taligent, its object oriented technology subsidiary, with support from JavaSoft, are developing a set of conversion conventions, a porting guide and tool that will allow developers to easily convert their Windows ActiveX components into JavaBeans.
IBM plans to ship the JavaBeans Migration Assistant for ActiveX in Taligent's Visual Age, WebRunner Toolkit, and Visual Age for Java development tools. This will allow developers to utilize a common component model that may be leveraged by a wide range of tools, including the IBM Visual Age for Java family.