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Ted Neward on Interop & Office Integration interview & whitepaper

by Floyd Marinescu on Apr 16, 2007 |
Ted Neward has published a detailed whitepaper, Best of Both Worlds:   Java & .NET for Fun & Profit (pdf) on Java and .NET integration with samples showing Office clients over Spring-based Java systems, SQL Server & JSP. The paper is published on InfoQ's Java + .NET Integration Scenario's portal.

At the same time InfoQ has published a video interview with Ted that talks further about Office integration possibilities as well as various interop approaches (in-proc, messaging, web services) work and when to use them.  Watch Ted Neward on Interop & Office Integration (19:53 min)

Ted starts the whitepaper off explaining that Java and .NET are no longer equivalent platforms and the focus now is on how to choose parts of each to solve problems, not which is better:
At conferences, I used to be able to say that the choice between Java and .NET was largely a cultural one, that “anything you could do with one can be done by the other in about the same amount of work”. Not so, anymore. While it was fair to characterize .NET 1.0/1.1 as a fairly straightforward across-the-board equivalent to Java, the two have each started to chart differing paths forward, based both on their own unique innovation as well as the reaction of the users utilizing them. The Java community’s recent interest in incorporating more dynamism through the language and platform, for example, measured against Microsoft’s recent release of .NET 3.0, is a largely apples-to-oranges comparison. As a result, the question regarding Java and .NET has begun to change subtly; no longer is it “Which platform do you prefer?”, but the more interesting—and powerful—question “How can I use each of these two platforms together?”
To illustrate, in the interview, Ted introduces some of the things you can do with Office from Java:
Things like using Office as a rich client platform, being able to create an invoice in Excel that knows how to call out to a J2EE backend to verify inventory, to verify part numbers, to verify price, while letting Excel be the front end as designed by Excel power users. Things like using Word to do the ubiquitous mail merge where the name and addresses from which to pull for the merge come from a J2 backend; SmartTags, the little drop-down things that show up in Office, Excel, Outlook etc being able to communicate to a J2EE backend.
In the whitepaper Ted goes into deeper depth on a few examples mentioned in the interview, most notably the SmartTags feature in MSOffice. In the example Ted shows an Excel sheet where you can click on the tag of a product which offers a one-click integration to a web service of a Java backend where the return result allows Excel to let the user click to an external web page associated with the specific product clicked.  "Future enhancements could automatically place the order when the spreadsheet is saved, or pop warning messages when trying to sell pets that the store is currently out of, and so on."

Ted's paper also mentions Windows Workflow as a compelling option for Java integration, and concludes:
As more and more developers come to realize the power of using both .NET and Java together, more scenarios will likely come to light. And as both the Java and .NET communities come out with more innovative ideas, these will create even more reasons for each side to openly and honestly consider how to use the other to best solve our clients’ problems. Because, after all, in the end, regardless of which technology you love more, that’s what we’re about: providing solutions to our clients.

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great idea by Rave Man

great idea, but i dont think many j2ee developers will be working with it(ms office is not open source)

Re: great idea by Floyd Marinescu

Office isn't open source but the API's for doing the sorts of integrations talked about here are public and useable. I think the point is that using office as a front end makes sense where your customers are already using office, which is very common.

Re: great idea by Tracy Snell

Open source or not is only a concern for a very small number of Java developers. Java itself hasn't even been open source until very recently.

Re: great idea by 冯 希顺

when i uses the ms office to writing some code, a error occurred, and office app existed, how can i resolve this problem? in java, i can read the exception message... microsoft's products not ony not-open-source, but not-open.

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