In the August 1997 issue, I made some suggestions about the impact I thought Java was going to have on Microsoft's development tools. This month, I'll put my hand in the fire and make some explicit predictions.
Peter's Predictions for 1998:
1. The next version of Visual Basic will compile to Java bytecode. So will C and C++.
2. Java will become an optional scripting language in the Office suite (including Access), though VBA will continue to be the language that the macro recorders generate.
3. Visual Basic will store all form information in HTML. The subsequent release of Office will do the same, except for Access, which will follow one release later (sigh).
4. VBA will get a true compiler in the next release of Office, but Access programmers won't be able to compile programs that use the Eval function.
5. Microsoft will have Java applets back on its Web site and Java incorporated into its development methodology (DNA) by June.
There are some caveats here. When you compile C to Java bytecode, there will be parts of the language that you'll have to avoidthe same might be true of Visual Basic compiled to Java. In addition, the generated Java btyecode will take advantage of Microsoft's J/Direct to access the Windows API. So, while the compilation process will produce Java bytecode, the only operating system the programs will execute on will be Windows. It might be possible to avoid this by using a subset of the languages. In the long run, Microsoft's continued development of its Java foundation classes will reduce Visual Basic's dependence on J/Direct.
As a side note, I'm becoming increasingly frustrated by people talking about "write once, run everywhere" as the future of computing. With the ubiquity of Java Virtual Machines running Java bytecode, the real mantra should be "compile once, run everywhere." If you can compile to Java bytecode, it doesn't matter what language you write in.
Mind you, while I'm predicting all this Java activity, please don't think I'm planning on actually drinking the stuff. The jury's still out in my mind as to whether or not there's any real benefit for developers in all this hoopla.
My thanks to all those who've sent in nominations for Access resources on the Internet. Even as we speak, the judges are plowing through the recommended sites. If you haven't sent in your nomination, you might still have time: The cut-off date is December 10. (Please send nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.) Remember, if you nominate an Access-related site that no one else does, you're eligible for two drawings. The site has to contain useful information that the Access developer can use as soon as they leave the Web site. We look forward to hearing from you.
This issue's articles provide two different ways of using Access in conjunction with a database server. They really clarify when (and when not) to use the Upsizing Wizard. And, the revolving door at the "Access Answers" column brings back Ken Getz. Ken set the standard for this column when it first started, so it's good to have him back again.