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With the JavaBeansTM Activation Framework standard extension, developers who use JavaTM technology can take advantage of standard services to determine the type of an arbitrary piece of data, encapsulate access to it, discover the operations available on it, and to instantiate the appropriate bean to perform said operation(s). For example, if a browser obtained a JPEG image, this framework would enable the browser to identify that stream of data as an JPEG image, and from that type, the browser could locate and instantiate an object that could manipulate, or view that image.

http://java.sun.com/products/javabeans/jaf/