Marc Andreessen, Senior VP of Technology
Netscape Communications Corporation

"Netscape ONE

provides a rich

set of tools and

functionality to

create a new

generation of




August 1, 1996 - This week Netscape and 50 other vendors introduced Netscape ONE, the open network environment. Netscape ONE provides a rich set of tools and functionality to create a new generation of software: network-centric applications.

What is Netscape ONE? It's a platform-independent application development and deployment environment. It's built from the ground up for the open standards-based Internet world. It provides a common application development architecture, integrating a wide range of software, tools, and standards into a unified platform. Netscape ONE also introduces several new pieces of technology, including JavaScript 1.1, Internet Inter-ORB Protocol (IIOP) support, and the Internet Foundation Classes.

Netscape ONE is doing for application development what HTML did for information sharing. Why do I say that? HTML changed the way people could share information by leveraging the ubiquity and platform-independence of the Internet. Netscape ONE changes the way developers can create applications by allowing fully functional applications to be built in the same Internet framework. This framework provides the ability to write software once for multiple platforms, reach more people than ever before, distribute and deploy it for trivial costs, and enjoy the security of universally supported open standards. Like HTML, Netscape ONE works for the entire Internet. Also like HTML, it doesn't assume that you and everyone you want to communicate with use a particular operating system. It isn't Netscape's platform, it's the Internet's platform.

What types of applications can developers build for this platform? As an example, a software vendor could build a Java spreadsheet component in a Java Integrated Development Environment (IDE) from vendors such as Borland or Symantec. Another might build a special plug-in to support voice synthesis and tie it into the Netscape ONE architecture using LiveConnect. An enterprise developer could then tie these components together using JavaScript, and use standard protocols to get information from servers across the enterprise. The result? The enterprise developer has now brought together a huge amount of technology from across the network seamlessly and simply on an HTML Web page, and with the flexibility to use a variety of vendors and to run on a variety of operating systems.

Creating such Internet applications is getting a lot easier. Netscape Internet Foundation Classes (IFC) provide common building blocks to make it fast and easy to build applications. We're extending these classes beyond desktop-only classes, such as user interface, to include classes such as security and messaging. Because IFC is based on Java, the object model is secure and cross-platform, and provides important security features. For example, consider a workflow application that retrieves a document via HTTP, verifies the origin and integrity of the document, and mails it to the next processing phase. Using IFC, each of these steps will employ services that have been built already. You just put them together and customize them however you want.

Want to connect to existing applications? If the applications are in C or C++, LiveConnect ties them seamlessly into the Netscape ONE framework, enabling them to be scripted and controlled by Java and JavaScript. Netscape ONE also introduces support for the Internet Inter-ORB Protocol (IIOP), a protocol for the open Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA) distributed object architecture. This means companies now have an open protocol to use in developing applications that link different legacy client-server applications. Within an intranet, IIOP integrates easy-to-use and easy-to-deploy web technologies with traditional enterprise technologies, including applications from companies like SAP, Dun and Bradstreet Software, and Oracle. Intranet applications can use every function and service published on the Internet. With such flexible integration between diverse applications, the Web can become just as explosive a communications medium for applications as it has been for people.

Another aspect of Netscape ONE that I'm excited about is the level of partner support. We view partners as an integral part of Netscape ONE, so we're licensing all this technology to third parties free of charge. Not only will customers get to choose best-of-breed products for developing apps, but the components they create will all interoperate because they are built in the Netscape ONE environment. Among the more than 50 initial supporters of Netscape ONE are Adobe, Borland, Corel, Macromedia, PowerSoft, Sun, and Symantec.

Platform-independent, standards-based technologies are driving all aspects of computing. So with a platform-independent, full-function environment coming together, the future of application development becomes pretty clear. Just as has already occurred in information sharing, and is evolving in electronic messaging, application development based on natively compatible open standards is redefining the industry.

For more information on Netscape ONE, take a look at the Netscape ONE white paper or the SDK.

So what's next? I'll be using this column to share information about our plans and directions, as well as major technology developments and trends. The subjects for this column will be determined in large part by you, as I'll be actively addressing questions raised by customers and partners.

Marc Andreessen is cofounder and senior vice president of technology for Netscape Communications. Andreessen developed the idea for the NCSA Mosaic browser for the Internet while he was an undergraduate student at the University of Illinois and a staff member at the university's National Center for Supercomputing Applications in Champaign, Illinois. He created the friendly, easy-to-use navigational tool for the Internet with a team of students and staff at NCSA in early 1993.

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Copyright 1996 Netscape Communications Corporation