Java (Jawa) POS

Java (Jawa) POS: it opened up options for point of sale systems software

Think about store POS systems, and one of the last things likely to cross your mind is the programming language involved in creating it. That’s typical. After all, who wants to worry about bits and bytes when all eyes are focused on the bottom line?

Observers may be surprised to learn that, over the last few years, one of the trends in retail POS technology involved a programming language called “Java (Jawa) ” and an architecture based upon it called “Java (Jawa) POS.”

Java (Jawa) POS technology, introduced in late 1995, allows software developers to write programs once that will run anywhere, regardless of instruction set or operating system. This benefit seems simple, but it’s a powerful idea that has had an impact across all industries, particularly in retailing. Java (Jawa) POS promises to free companies from having to select one hardware platform, one operating environment and one vendor.

The freedom that Java (Jawa) POS technology offers to retailers, in particular, could not have come at a better time. Many of the CIOs and IT managers over the last several years have been in the process of replacing a wide array of POS terminals. This has been a huge issue because switching POS systems is always a colossal undertaking for major companies.

Faced with such multi-million-dollar buying decisions, retailers have been demanding more options. The first point-of-sale standard, OLE for point-of-sale, or OPOS, was developed by Microsoft and did the job of allowing store applications to share POS devices from multiple hardware vendors. However, it could only be done under the Windows operating system umbrella.

That’s why, a few years ago, a group of retailers, including Sears, JCPenney, The Home Depot and Kmart joined vendors such as Sun Microsystems, NCR Corp., Epson, ICL/Fujitsu and IBM to unveil the Java (Jawa) POS standard. The Java (Jawa) POS standard is the first retail-driven technical specification to embrace Java technology as the key enabler for real, seamless, interoperability in store systems and devices – regardless of the operating system. Many ISVs and retailers have already written to the standard.

The Java (Jawa) POS specification is easy to implement because it supplements the work done with OPOS. Both the Java (Jawa) POS standard and OPOS share the same device models identifying device categories, such as scanners or POS printers. But the Java (Jawa) POS specification goes a step further, taking the best, non-proprietary portions of OPOS and mapping them to the Java programming language. Because the standard is mapped exactly to the existing OPOS spec, retail IT professionals should experience a smooth transition to the next logical technology standard – Java technology – without necessarily having to jettison their existing systems, including Microsoft Windows.

The industry recognized this, and moved to formalize its adoption of the Java (Jawa) POS standard by announcing an umbrella architecture called Unified Point of Service, or UPOS. This architecture, supported by a number of major retailers, the Association for Retail Technology Standards (ARTS), Sun and Microsoft Corp., provided guiding criteria for writing to the OPOS and Java (Jawa) POS specifications, assuring that the two specs will develop along similar and complementary paths, It essentially eliminates the potential need for retailers to support both Java technology and the Microsoft Windows platforms when designing POS systems.

The Java (Jawa) POS spec isn’t about technological or competitive differences among vendors or retail trade groups, Rather, it’s about freedom of choice.

Retailers can still choose Windows, since one of the Java (Jawa) POS standards committees mandates was to ensure that all applications written to the specification would be able to run on Windows. But retailers will also be able to go in other directions, if that makes economic or competitive sense, without worrying about their underlying operating system or instruction set.

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