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Is Jini dead?

By David Reilly

The hunt for Jini devices goes on. Is Jini dead, or will we see its resurrection?

When news of Jini first broke, excitement within the Java community, and the ranks of hardware manufacturers, was high. Jini heralded a new wave of easy to use, network-centric devices that were powered by Java. The world saw Jini, and Jini was good. Two years later, a different picture is emerging.

Few programmers today have not heard the buzzword Jini, or the rally-cry of zealous advocates and consultants rousing the hopes and passions of the Java faithful. Amongst this fast-paced explosion of new technologies evolving at the gait of Internet-time, some technologies will succeed and many will fall by the wayside. The question facing developers, two years after Jini : is Jini dead?

This isn't an easy question to answer. It depends on who you talk to. Sun Microsystems is still pushing Jini heavily, and is likely to make more announcements at this year's JavaOne conference. Ask a hardware vendor about Jini versus USB, and you might find a different story. Go down to your local Radio Shack or CompUSA and ask if they have a digital camera that supports Jini, and you'll likely get a raised eyebrow.

The sad fact is, that despite the excitement Jini has generated, there aren't hardware devices that support it. While technologies like USB took awhile to penetrate the market, even in its early days it was possible to find some devices that were USB compatible. The same is hard to say of Jini.

It's easy to believe that Jini is dead.
Was Jini a casualty in the competing technology war?
After all, it faces some stiff competition, and nothing has really changed much in two years. There's been one major release of a Jini SDK since the early pre-release, and that's about it. The technology is still, to my mind, not mature enough to be used commercially. When running the Jini SDK on several testing machines, I found it would lock up, and on others it was difficult to configure. That's fine for an early SDK for developers to work with (we all know that few SDKs are ever perfect or user-friendly, so Jini is not alone in this), but what about end-users? Where's the Jini libraries in the latest Java runtime?

Don't get me wrong, I like Jini. The last thing I want to come across as is a Jini-basher. Nor am I saying that the Java community should abandon Jini. It holds potential, certainly. That its potential has yet to be realized is self-evident to anyone. The news for Jini, however, isn't great. There's a lack of support for Jini by hardware vendors, and the technology is too complex for the average Java developer to grasp.

My dearest wish would be for this year to be the Year of the Jini. At this year's JavaOne conference, we'll all look to Sun for guidance, and the Java faithful will wait with bated breath for each announcement. I'm hoping that one or two of those announcements will signal a change in the future for Jini. Perhaps we'll see a resurrection, a revival of Jini support. Right now, however, I feel that Jini is a corpse that doesn't know its dead. 

Talk Jini!

If you'd like to comment on this article, or discuss your opinions on the future of Jini, post in our new Jini forum.

About the Author

David Reilly is a software engineer and freelance technical writer living in Australia. A Sun Certified Java 1.1 Programmer, his research interests include the Java programming language, networking & distributed systems, and software agents. He can be reached via e-mail at or his personal Web site.


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Last updated: Monday, June 05, 2006