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Conversion made easier as Microsoft unveils JLCA 2.0

With consolidation and cost cutting the order of the day for many developers and managers, finding a way to more quickly, easily and cheaply move applications from one platform to another has become a top priority. In an effort to ease that process -- and get corporate developers to shift allegiance from Java to .NET -- Microsoft has brought out Version 2.0 of its Java Language Conversion Assistant (JLCA), a tool that converts Java code to Visual C#.

"What we wanted to do was create a tool for those people who already have existing assets, created in either Java or J2EE, to be able to carry forward that investment to the [.NET] platform," said Dan Fernandez, product manager for Visual C# .NET. "It's literally within Visual Studio .NET. You say 'file, convert project,' you point it to where your Java files are and it will literally migrate your application, changing Java source code into C# source code. And once it does that migration, basically it's going to migrate about 80% of your code."

The obvious question is that while 80% is good, what about that other 20%?

"It basically puts in suggestions, so it'll say 'I don't know what you want to do,'" said Fernandez. "It doesn't have every single mapping for a specific type. For example, it won't convert Enterprise JavaBeans, so if you do have Enterprise JavaBeans, it'll tell you 'We don't understand how to convert this,' and put in comments and let you know."

Fernandez added that Version 3.0, slated for release in the first half of 2004, would provide full J2EE platform conversion, including EJBs. But he said that JLCA 2.0 might be enough for many conversions, citing a Gartner study that found that most J2EE applications are actually JSP servlet applications, not the full Enterprise JavaBeans.

For more information, go to the JLCA 2.0 home page found at http://msdn.microsoft.com/vstudio/downloads/tools/jlca/default.aspx

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