One month ago SUN released the Java Development Kit version 1.1, which had two new features which we are using in our effort. The JAR file format is a compressed archive file which can contain both Java code and data, designed to be used by WWW browsers. Object serialization allows the conversion of an in-memory Java object to a byte stream that can be shipped across a network or stored in a file. These features can be used to provide a JAR file that contains not only the scientific data, but also the methods which provide access. The JAR file can be opened to produce an in-memory Data Object that Implements a standard Interface. Only the Interface is standardised, the data itself can be stored in any format whatsoever, or may even be generated on the fly.
The JAR file format is an extension of the ZIP file and is well compressed while portability is supported by enormous teams of commercial programmers. We have had access to the software for only a short time, but hope to have a prototype running by the time of the Forum.
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