P2P file-swapping comes to PDAs

Sun's Jxta protocol will allow file-swapping and data sharing between PDAs and mobile phones.

Sun's Jxta protocol will allow file-swapping and data sharing between PDAs and mobile phones.

Sun Microsystems last week announced it will extend its Jxta peer-to-peer (P2P) protocol for use with handheld devices such as PDAs and mobile phones.

The update will add support for Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME), and will let users of handhelds access files or applications and share data with other systems in Jxta-based P2P networks.

This should make it easier for staff with more than one device, such as desktop PCs and PDAs, to access data held on any other unit and share resources with colleagues. The concept is similar to the Napster system that lets consumers swap files between computers over the Internet.

While Jxta already supports Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) and Standard Edition (J2SE) for servers and PCs, J2ME support extends Jxta to mobile phones and PDAs.

Improv Technologies in New York, which is using Jxta as the transport layer for its Cirquet component software framework, plans to tap into Jxta's support for handhelds, according to Adam Goldberg, the firm's director of business development.

Jxta is the transport for streaming Web services between peer devices, and Cirquet assembles them dynamically at the client end, Goldberg said. "Even on a resource-constrained device, you can stream services one at a time as required," he added. "You could stream functions to a PDA device as needed and release them from the cache as new ones are streamed in."

Goldberg said that applications would have to be fairly simple for the time being, due to wireless bandwidth limitations. "As bandwidth increases and the transport gets faster, you'll see a lot more interesting applications," he predicted. For the moment, applications for handhelds will be limited to those that exchange only small amounts of data, such as contact management.

Improv said that for now, handhelds will serve more as access devices than storage devices in Jxta-based P2P networks.

Sun's Jxta P2P application development platform is suited for extension to handhelds because it is device- and platform-independent, Sun said. Jxta accomplishes this by connecting peers at the protocol level, using standards such as HTTP and TCP/IP. Some rival P2P technologies use proprietary APIs for the peer connections.

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