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Exploring Java

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Tools of the Trade

3.4 The Netscape Alternative

If the JDK is not available for your platform, but you have access to a Java-enabled version of Netscape Navigator, you can take advantage of a special Netscape switch to compile and run Java applications. The -java switch provides direct access to Netscape's implementation of the Java run-time system and supports the same command-line options as Sun's java interpreter. Here's the general syntax for using the -java switch:

% netscape -java [interpreter options] class name [program arguments]

Before you can use Netscape's -java switch, you have to download the JDK; you need the classes.zip file that is part of the JDK distribution. After you have unpacked the distribution, set the CLASSPATH environment variable to point to both Netscape's class archive and the classes.zip file from the JDK:


Now you can compile a .java file using Netscape's -java switch as follows:

% netscape -java sun.tools.javac.Main source file

In this case, you are actually using the -java switch to run the Java compiler, javac, and supplying the source file as an argument to the compiler. Recall that javac is itself a Java program, which is why you can run it using the -java switch. The above command produces a class file and stores it in the same directory as the source file.

After you have compiled a Java application with Netscape, you can use Netscape to run it. You can use the -java switch to run nongraphical Java applications. In other words, you can run any application that doesn't use AWT. You can't use the -java switch to run applications that use AWT because Netscape has its own toolkit that employs Netscape native components. However, you can use the -java switch to compile applets (and applications) that use AWT. As always, you can display these applets using Netscape as a Web browser.

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