HotJava, the new World-Wide Web browser from Sun Microsystems, will soon be available to make the Web more interactive. Designed to work with an extension of the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), and including a new programming language called Java, HotJava allows users to run special programs that can add animation to home pages, play sounds as a page is loading, and enable other interactive features.
If a user encounters a new file or image type, HotJava will seek out the appropriate viewers and players.
The browser, which runs on Solaris, Windows NT, Windows 3.11, Windows 95, and the Macintosh operating system, derives much of its power from the use of extensions, software code written by third parties to enhance the original product, thus allowing HotJava to evolve its capabilities over time. Several of the extensions are already available from the Sun Java site (http://java.sun.com).
“Compiled Java programs are roughly the size of text pages,” said Mark Scott Johnson, a senior software engineering manager at Sun Microsystems. “They are considerably smaller than many other media types.” MIT developer Nathan Williams added, “Distributed-code execution is a very exciting concept that should have hit the mainstream a long time ago.”