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Microsoft automates J2EE-to-.NET conversion

Microsoft Corp. continued its ongoing quest for the hearts and minds of Java developers (as well as .NET developers charged with maintaining Java apps) with enhancements to its Java Language Conversion Assistant (JLCA). The JLCA is a tool designed to convert existing Java language code into programs for the Microsoft Visual C# and the .NET Framework.

The Redmond, Wash., software maker recently posted a beta release of the 3.0 version of the JLCA; Java Server Pages (JSPs) and Enterprise JavaBean (EJB) conversion is said to be part of the package.

"We're trying to appeal to anyone working in Java today who wants to move their applications to take full advantage of the .NET Framework," said Brian Keller, product manager for Microsoft's Visual Studio .NET. "Whether it's an ISV or just an average company that has applications that are relying on J2EE, they are people who have seen the productivity benefits of .NET."

Applications converted with the JLCA can be extended to utilize the complete .NET developer platform, Keller told Programmers Report, including ASP.NET, ADO.NET and Microsoft Windows Forms. The big advance in Version 3.0 is support for converting J2EE 1.3 applications, including JSPs and EJBs. Other Java technologies that can be translated include Java Authentication and Authorization Service (JAAS), Java Cryptography Extension (JCE), Java Message Service (JMS), Java Naming and Directory Interface (JNDI) and Remote Method Interface (RMI).

Programmers know that converters and code generators are more often a journey than a destination. When it comes to "automatic" conversion, your mileage may vary.

"Let's be honest, you can't spend a weekend rewriting your applications from scratch and expect to get them running on .NET," Keller said. "The JLCA helps to minimize the hurdles to that conversion process. It gets you about 85% to 90% of the way, so that it becomes realistic to take an application and get it moving to the .NET Framework in that kind of time. Overall, it enables users to take advantage of the performance, integration and native Web services capabilities of the .NET Framework."

Microsoft released the 2.0 version of the JLCA in July of last year. The 3.0 beta may be downloaded for free by members of the beta program.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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