Stalking the elusive Java

Java may be the future, but it's not yet the present—at least, not on government Internet sites. Gateway Guide went on a hunt for Java applets on government-sponsored World Wide Web home pages and came up with little more than the sites highlighted in the last issue of FCW [March 4, page 1].

Interest in Java has permeated just about every government agency, but most agencies have yet to showcase Java applets. Government Webmasters will tell you the technology is just too new and that questions about security leave some agencies skittish. Also, the freeware Mosaic browser doesn't support Java yet.

So except for the impressive real-time Hubble Space Telescope telemetry display from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center at http://v2ma09.gsfc.nasa.gov:2000 and the National Institutes of Health's Visible Human Viewer at http://www.nlm.nih.gov, most of what government Net cruisers will find in the way of Java on government sites is revolving globes and moving ticker-tape banners.

Goddard's SeaWIFS (Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor) home page displays a revolving Earth at http://seawifs.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEAWIFS.html. But take a closer look; this is no ordinary Earth. The extremely accurate globe represents 2 terabytes worth of Earth data, gathered via satellite by NASA. Thanks to Java, the Marshall Space Flight Center's Liftoff page, sponsored by the Mission Operations Lab Center, features text that moves across the screen, telling visitors about new features and updates having to do with the lab. You can see it at http://liftoff.msfc.nasa.gov. The Smithsonian Institution has introduced a similar feature to its home page at http://www.si.edu.

More globes, including one of Mars, spin from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum's Web server at http://www.nasm.edu/hilites.html, and the IRS' home page at http://www.irs.ustreas.gov.

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