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Chapter 14. Jini > ABOUT JINI CONNECTION TECHNOLOGIES

ABOUT JINI CONNECTION TECHNOLOGIES

Jini is Sun Microsystems' home networking software solution. It is a layer of Java software that allows devices to plug directly into a home network without the hassle of installing drivers and configuring operating systems. In some ways the history of Jini is the history of Java—Jini is really the fulfillment of the original Java vision of groups of consumer-orientated electronic devices interchanging data and bits of code. This vision requires mechanisms that we don't typically associate with desktop computers.

  • The software infrastructure for these consumer and in-home appliances must be incredibly robust. Toasters and washing machines simply cannot fail with a message asking "Abort, Retry, or Ignore?" The software must not only allow, but also encourage, the development of reliable systems.

  • In-home devices have to support true, effortless "plug and play." For all intents and purposes they should be the in-home equivalents of the Internet. You plug them in and they just work. There are a couple of requirements that this desire for plug and play imposes. First, devices must be easy to use. Much like a standard telephone, typical consumer appliances may have only a limited number of interfaces. Certainly not every device at home will have a mouse and a high-resolution display. In fact, most consumers will not want such interfaces for these devices—if they require a mouse or keyboard, chances are they're too hard to use. Second, in-home devices need to be easy to administer. Most people would like to plug them in and use them, without having to configure IP addresses for them, set up gateways and routers, install (and possibly) remove drivers, and so on. Upgrades of software are an important issue here—if an IT professional needs to be called in to upgrade all appliances on a home network, chances are the appliances simply won't get upgraded.

  • Software systems for the Internet age need to be evolvable. While creating software for stand-alone devices, such as a CPU for a microwave, is challenging enough, the potential problems are multiplied by the fact that networked devices on your in-home network must be able to communicate with any number of peer devices on the Internet.


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