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AshnaMQ from Ashnasoft Corporation
AshnaMQ from Ashnasoft Corporation

Keeping up with the whirlwind of new technologies and products can be an overwhelming proposition, to say the least. In order to keep my head spinning faster than an electron, I decided the Java Message Service was the next "have to know" technology. Late at night, over many cups of coffee, I would glue my browser to the Sun Microsystems Web site and follow their JMS tutorial. For many nights, until dawn, I would write simple JMS applications that proved to be as shaky as the hands that wrote them. Then I discovered AshnaMQ from Ashnasoft Corporation.

JMS is not a new technology at six years old, but it is finally starting to establish itself as the one-and-only way to send messages. Not surprisingly, this recent burst of popularity has sent marketing departments scurrying to offer new JMS products. AshnaMQ from Ashnasoft Corporation is the latest of them.

What I was really looking for was a product that would handle the mundane aspects of messaging while I concentrated on writing the "cool stuff." I found this quality in AshnaMQ. AshnaMQ implements the current Java Message Service and integrates messaging between devices that can understand Java (AshnaMQ also talks to Microsoft Office but this was not tested). I was really looking forward to using AshnaMQ to get my PDAs to talk. "MQ", as I now call it, using JMS was up to the task. While J2ME was my primary focus, AshnaMQ also supports J2SE and J2EE.

Downloading and installing MQ went without incident. Before downloading, you are required to give Ashnasoft your name, rank, and serial number, but that's about it. The download itself was complete in only a few minutes (albeit I have a fast connection). Even with a slow connection, the download should not take too long.

Happy with my downloading experience, it was now time to start the server. If you're like me, you jump right in. After all, who really reads the documentation? Unfortunately I didn't get far. Within 15 minutes I was frantically looking for help. And help I found. MQ has so many resources; I was able to get the server up and running in a jiffy.

The documentation helped me set up the runtime environment and get started with many examples that the product includes. Only a few minutes later, I found examples on how to integrate messaging with MIDlets. Also, there is a slew of examples for integrating with other Java technologies such as servlets. Over the past year, many vendors have reversed the trend of incomplete or nonexistent documentation. Ashnasoft is among them. The array of examples and documentation is impressive.

Once inside the server, there are two ways to start. For the command line-impaired, MQ provides an Administration Tool that allows you to graphically control and administer the server. Navigating the GUI is simple and implicit. I ran into no surprises. For the brave, the server can be administered via a command line. I'm a command line kind of guy, but wound up using the GUI to set up user/group security.

The flip side of the Administration Tool is the graphical Development Tool. This is where the developer will spend most of his or her time. This tool allows the opening and closing of connections, managing producers and consumers, and sending and receiving messages.

If you are programming for mobile devices, MQ also ships with the Sun J2ME wireless toolkit. This was a boon for me. Since I have already been using this toolkit, MQ-Mobile's documentation and example were already familiar to me. The Mobile Programmer's guide is a complete reference and probably could be sold as a standalone product.

MQ provides a solid backbone for whatever your JMS solution may be. With MQ, I was able to get my PDAs up in a flash (they tell me it will work with J2ME phones as well). While supplying a solid server and server interface, it also allows the flexibility to add all the Java code you want - thus making it extremely customizable. As JMS is written in Java, JMS gurus can probably write a similar product to MQ. But at this price, and with these features, why would you want to? A free developer's version is available at Ashnasoft's Web site. Before you try to start coding your own JMS solution, give MQ a try.

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Company Info:
Ashnasoft Corporation 39111 Paseo Padre Pkwy, Suite 213 Fremont, CA 94538 Tel. (510) 792-6335 E-mail: info@ashnasoft.com System Requirements:
Platforms: Windows NT/2000, Solaris 2.6, 7, and 8, Linux (Red Hat 6.2 or later) Server: Runs best on JDK 1.3.1 Regular clients: Can run on JDK 1.2.2 and higher Mobile clients: Runs on J2ME Wireless Toolkit 1.0.3, Palm OS 3.5 and higher Testing Environment:
Server: Windows NT4, 256MB memory, PIII PDA: Handspring Prism, 8MB memory, Palm 3.5 OS

About Bob Hendry
Bob Hendry is a PowerBuilder instructor for Envision Software Systems and a frequent speaker at national and international PowerBuilder conferences. He specializes in PFC development and has written two books on the subject, including Programming with the PFC 6.0.

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