Welcome to the FAQ. These are the questions that have been asked of the support staff, or on the forums, most often. If you would like to ask an Amber-related question not answered in the FAQ, please email support@amber.clearfield.com

Table of Contents

What is Amber?
What can Amber do for me?
What is the difference between the Professional and Enterprise Editions of Amber?
How much does Amber cost?

Where does Amber fit into J2EE?
What is J2EE?
Do I have to use J2EE to get the full benefits of Amber?
Why not just use JSP/Tomcat/HTML?
Why not just use a Java client application?
Will Amber work alongside my existing web/client-based systems?
How secure is Amber?
How scalable is Amber?
How fast is Amber?
What do I need on my client PCs to support Amber?
Does Amber work through firewalls?

What software do I need to develop an Amber website?
What skills/training do I need to develop my own systems based on Amber?
What do I need to run an Amber website?
What Operating Systems does the Amber Server work on?
Which Java versions does Amber need in order to run?

I have found a bug. How do I report it?
I have a suggestion for new features. What do I do?


General Questions

What is Amber?

Amber is a Java technology which allows you to add rich user interfaces to web & intranet-based applications with minimal overhead.


What can Amber do for me?
Using Amber, you can build network-based applications with more sophisticated & functional user interfaces - more simply - than you can do with standalone applications or traditional web technologies (such as JSP/HTML).


What is the difference between the Professional and Enterprise Editions of Amber?

The Professional Edition is intended for internal use over an Intranet. It has a 40-user limit, and does not include the firewall and security components you need for Internet/Extranet use of Amber.

The Enterprise edition is intended for Internet/Extranet use of Amber, where firewalls and security are an issue. There is no user limit. The Enterprise Edition includes J2EE connectivity libraries.


How much does Amber cost?
See the Amber Pricing Schedule.



Technical Questions

Where does Amber fit into J2EE?
Amber can plug into J2EE systems as a presentation layer, replacing JSP or similar. This means your J2EE-compliant applications can still run in a web browser and have a much richer, more useful GUI (with fewer limitations and less development effort).


What is J2EE?

J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) is a collection of standards to enable Enterprise development in Java. Using J2EE, you get Enterprise-level technologies with all the benefits of a centralised application (scalability, performance, reliability, manageability, lower TCO).

One of the central tenets of J2EE is that idea that a computer system's business rules and user interface ("presentation layer") should be separate. J2EE provides Enterprise JavaBeans (EJBs) as a mechanism to implement business logic and JavaServer Pages (JSP) as a means to implement a (somewhat limited) user interface.

Read more about J2EE here.


Do I have to use J2EE to get the full benefits of Amber?
No. Although Amber has a strong place in the J2EE model, it does support other development models. You can develop an application with all the business rules in Amber (just as you would with a traditional application) or you can utilise other methodologies to separate business and display code.


Why not just use JSP/Tomcat/HTML?

These technologies work by generating HTML that then appears on the browser as a web page. As such, you are limited by what HTML can do.

HTML has 9 static user interface elements. By default, Amber ships with 19 dynamic user interface elements (with provision to add your own). The HTML static user interface elements require the web page be submitted before any data can be processed. Amber has no such requirement - Amber GUI elements can accept , send data or change appearance at any time, as directed by a server in near real-time.


Why not just use a Java client application?

With this approach, you get the benefits of a rich GUI, but it requires an entire program - business logic, presentation code, drivers and code libraries - to be deployed to each and every client PC that uses the system. When the underlying code changes, the entire application has to be redeployed.

When using Amber, size or complexity of the business logic is not an issue. The download the client browser is the same regardless of whether you have 500 lines of code, or 500000. With a traditional Java application, the bigger the program, the more you have to redeploy.

In Amber, all the processing is held on the server. When the underlying code of the system changes, only the server needs to be updated, and all the client PCs will receive the program update transparently.

Java is notoriously easy to reverse engineer. When you use a Java client application, all of your business rules - in effect, the workings of your company - are downloaded to a multitude of PCs, and anybody with a little knowhow can run a program to bring back the original code. Your secrets can easily be stolen.

With Amber, only the GUI components are downloaded to the client - your business logic stays safe, running in isolation on the server.



Will Amber work alongside my existing web/client-based systems?
Yes. Amber will not interfere with any existing systems.



How secure is Amber?

The Enterprise Editon includes SSL security. With SSL enabled, all Amber transmissions are encrypted before being sent over the wire.

The Amber Professional Edition has no provision for traffic encryption. Because the Professional Edition is intended for internal use, it should not be necessary.



How scalable is Amber?
Amber's capacity to handle more users is dependent on the memory installed in the Amber Server. In test situations, we have had 500 concurrent connections happily running on a 128MB Windows NT 4 Server.



How fast is Amber?
Because Amber is network-dependent, the speed of your network dictates how responsively Amber behaves. The Amber protocol has been heavily optimised, and Amber has been found to be perfectly usable over a 33.6Kbs modem; although the faster your network, the snappier Amber will be.



What do I need on my client PCs to support Amber?
You need a web browser with Java enabled. Recent versions of Netscape, Internet Explorer ship with this by default, and most other browsers have provision to use the Java Plug-in.



Does Amber work through firewalls?
The Amber Enterprise Edition includes technology to allow Amber to work through firewalls.


Development Questions
What software do I need to develop an Amber website?
A copy of Amber, a Java development environment and a web server. Some features available only on the Enterprise Edition may also require a servlet engine (such as Tomcat).


What skills/training do I need to develop my own systems based on Amber?
You need to know Java, and understand the concepts of the Java Abstract Window Toolkit (AWT). From the programmer's point of view, Amber closely mimics the AWT, so a programmer with this experience should painlessly made the transition.


What do I need to run an Amber website?
A copy of Amber and a web server.


What Operating Systems does the Amber Server work on?
Amber is 100% Java, therefore any operating system that can run a Java Virtual Machine should run Amber without a problem.


Which Java versions does Amber need in order to run?
The Amber Server will work with Java version 1.1 or later. We recommend version 1.3 or later, because version 1.3 included significant performance enhancements. The Amber client is Java 1.1 compliant.


Support & Enhancement Questions
I have found a bug. How do I report it?
Please post a bug report in the Forums


I have a suggestion for new features. What do I do?
Please post your suggestion in the Forums




Documentation
Downloads