Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Sanjeev Khurana, Liz McMillan, Matt Davis, Ed Featherston

Related Topics: Java IoT

Java IoT: Article

One Size Fits No One

At a presentation given by Josh Bloch he made a comment that Java as a language hit the 'sweet spot'

At a presentation a number of years ago given by Josh Bloch he made a comment that Java as a language hit the "sweet spot" of programming. His metaphor was based around the fact that the language was straightforward to learn and that rather than containing many esoteric coding constructs, writing and understanding a Java program was a relatively easy task.

I think Java is at a very critical point at the moment where it is slipping away from its sweet spot and this worries me. Two things are to blame: annotations and aspects.

An annotation allows a programmer to flag a part of a program with @ statements that at first glance are a glorified comment. A developer can define his or her own annotation that has typed properties and validation rules about where it can be used in code, both of which the compiler enforces. What you do with annotations is up to you, but a good example could be to formally flag which methods were fixed in a particular release, by whom, and why. For example, with an annotation called Mod you could write code like:

@Mod(bugNumber=5477,fixedBy="Fred");
public void foo(){
   ...
}

This is better than putting the details in a comment // Fixed by Fred for 5477 because programs can use the java.lang.reflect API to query classes and methods for the presence of annotations, so a report of fixes done by Fred could be written.

The problem occurs when an annotation is more than a glorified comment and contains information that is an instruction to the program itself. EJB 3.0 has fallen desperately foul of this and I saw some horrid sample code recently:

@Stateless
@Remote(Example.class)
public class ExampleBean implements Example
{
   @PermitAll
   @TransactionAttribute(TransactionAttributeType.REQUIRES_NEW)
   public String getName(int id)
   {
   // Method body here
   }
   @RolesAllowed({"administrator","power_user"});
   public void deleteName(int id)
   {
   // Method body here
   }

What has occurred is, basically, a ton of semantic program details about how the EJB should be deployed that used to be provided in the deployment descriptor has been slammed into the class as annotations. It is way, way wide of the sweet spot and looks more like a cross between a set of assembler op-codes mixed with some kind of fourth generation language syntax. Whatever it is, it isn't Java.

Kent Beck once said that having lots of classes and lots of methods is basically what good OO is about. Design Patterns, the bible of good OO practice, espouses patterns such as the strategy and mediator that encourage and teach the strength and power of separation. By contrast, the EJB specification actually boasts the fact that having everything defined in a single file is a good thing. Separate XML wasn't great but what would have been wrong with just moving from XML to something akin to BeanInfo where the logic and rules were held in Java code elsewhere?

This segues nicely into aspects. At the first presentation I saw on the subject I was told that the raison d'etre for their existence is so that only a single source file has to be touched to implement a piece of functionality. While I understand this as a goal, it just isn't really practical to make this your overriding goal and then jump through hoops to ensure that this is the focus of all your development. In my experience, with all but the most trivial change, to fix a bug or implement a feature you need to change several classes, perhaps an interface or two, and hopefully do some refactoring along the way to improve the overall system entropy. There is nothing wrong with good old-fashioned programming like this and, when I encounter aspects, I see a group of people driven with a zeal to do differently. Instead they code files that contain sets of instructions to a preprocessor that will go and modify the existing multiple files that you should have fixed by hand in the first place. As with annotations, there are good uses of aspects, namely introducing logging behavior, performing code metrics, or coding rule enforcement. Too far beyond this and they just become clever magic that is both confusing and silly. Aspect fever seems to be riding the hit parade at the moment as the silver-bullet answer to everyone's problem.

What both annotations and aspects bring to Java is some kind of powerful dark magic where source is now littered with semantic fluff disguising itself as something more trendy but wielding terrible power. What you write is no longer what gets run - someone else's preprocessor mangles it, clever code obscures this fact from you while you debug it, and rather than the JVM just executing the bytecodes from the source you wrote, there is now some kind of execution inference engine analyzing formalized comments to determine the code path instead.

I fear the worst for the language. Pandora's box has been opened, Java coding no longer has any rules to govern it, and muggle programmers are no longer safe.

More Stories By Joe Winchester

Joe Winchester, Editor-in-Chief of Java Developer's Journal, was formerly JDJ's longtime Desktop Technologies Editor and is a software developer working on development tools for IBM in Hursley, UK.

Comments (6) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
peterk 10/21/05 10:43:07 PM EDT

I've been doing quite a bit of .NET programming against some "legacy" web services on Java-based Axis. Almost all of the linkage between the .NET classes and the web-services XML is done with attributes in the class definition. Like magic, it hides a lot of stuff and makes some debugging a lot harder, and you have to know the correct magic words.

BUT... This is what Microsoft does: it lowers the bar for entry level and intermediate programmers, and makes the code much more opaque to those who have to get into the guts to debug or tweak behavior.

Java, on the other hand, should stick to power and elegance through simplicity. If attributes are to be used, then keep the effects simple and clear, and don't hide the generated code.

--Peter

slackerdave 10/21/05 10:16:31 AM EDT

Trackback Added: One Size Fits No One Indeed…; One Size Fits No One
— At a presentation a number of years ago given by Josh Bloch he made a comment that Java as a language hit the ’sweet spot’ of programming. His metaphor was based around the fact that the language was straightforwar...

ed 10/21/05 05:30:52 AM EDT

I agree with this article entirely. Surely we learned from our initial mistakes from EJB 1 with the likes of entity beans. What is with the complexity? If it carries on like this, we will soon have masses of "developers" ala Clarion/VB etc. No IDE no code?????

Infernoz 10/21/05 02:43:16 AM EDT

Agreed, Aspects are bogus since they modify the source in possibly unexpected ways and without showing the developer the final results, so debuggers effectively become useless! As for annotations, there are some legitimate uses, but other techniques like proxies (not just java.lang.reflect.*) can be more readable, easier to debug and don't require Java 1.5, quite a critical requirement for a lot of mission critical code!

JDJ News Desk 10/19/05 01:24:47 PM EDT

Java Developer's Journal - One Size Fits No One
At a presentation a number of years ago given by Josh Bloch he made a comment that Java as a language hit the 'sweet spot' of programming. His metaphor was based around the fact that the language was straightforward to learn and that rather than containing many esoteric coding constructs, writing and understanding a Java program was a relatively easy task.

Gurvijay Singh Bhatti 09/29/05 05:38:05 PM EDT

When I was writing real time complex software, the complexity was in the application not in the code. Simple C or C++ would do. Debugging was easy, though there were lots and lots of threads but we know where the code is and what it was doing.

Then comes the tech boom, when every spreadsheet was to be converted into a web application. Humans want to be praised, so to write a simple application simplicity does not bring any praise, then comes hoard of XML configurations and frameworks and so on. This caused a small application to look like a bloody complex piece of software.

That trend is still going on. Imagine a complex application written using complex frameworks and XML configuration files. It will be a nightmare to maintain it.

I would like to keep everything simple and nothing more.

@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Linux Academy, the foremost online Linux and cloud training platform and community, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Linux Academy was founded on the belief that providing high-quality, in-depth training should be available at an affordable price. Industry leaders in quality training, provided services, and student certification passes, its goal is to c...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 add...
What sort of WebRTC based applications can we expect to see over the next year and beyond? One way to predict development trends is to see what sorts of applications startups are building. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Arin Sime, founder of WebRTC.ventures, will discuss the current and likely future trends in WebRTC application development based on real requests for custom applications from real customers, as well as other public sources of information,
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6–8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Loom Systems will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Founded in 2015, Loom Systems delivers an advanced AI solution to predict and prevent problems in the digital business. Loom stands alone in the industry as an AI analysis platform requiring no prior math knowledge from operators, leveraging the existing staff to succeed in the digital era. With offices in S...
Keeping pace with advancements in software delivery processes and tooling is taxing even for the most proficient organizations. Point tools, platforms, open source and the increasing adoption of private and public cloud services requires strong engineering rigor - all in the face of developer demands to use the tools of choice. As Agile has settled in as a mainstream practice, now DevOps has emerged as the next wave to improve software delivery speed and output. To make DevOps work, organization...
SYS-CON Events announced today that T-Mobile will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc., is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The Company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to 67.4 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudistics, an on-premises cloud computing company, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cloudistics delivers a complete public cloud experience with composable on-premises infrastructures to medium and large enterprises. Its software-defined technology natively converges network, storage, compute, virtualization, and management into a ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named “Platinum Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business – from apparel to energy – is being rewritten by software. From ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Infranics will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Since 2000, Infranics has developed SysMaster Suite, which is required for the stable and efficient management of ICT infrastructure. The ICT management solution developed and provided by Infranics continues to add intelligence to the ICT infrastructure through the IMC (Infra Management Cycle) based on mathemat...
Now that the world has connected “things,” we need to build these devices as truly intelligent in order to create instantaneous and precise results. This means you have to do as much of the processing at the point of entry as you can: at the edge. The killer use cases for IoT are becoming manifest through AI engines on edge devices. An autonomous car has this dual edge/cloud analytics model, producing precise, real-time results. In his session at @ThingsExpo, John Crupi, Vice President and Eng...
In the enterprise today, connected IoT devices are everywhere – both inside and outside corporate environments. The need to identify, manage, control and secure a quickly growing web of connections and outside devices is making the already challenging task of security even more important, and onerous. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Rich Boyer, CISO and Chief Architect for Security at NTT i3, will discuss new ways of thinking and the approaches needed to address the emerging challenges of securit...
The taxi industry never saw Uber coming. Startups are a threat to incumbents like never before, and a major enabler for startups is that they are instantly “cloud ready.” If innovation moves at the pace of IT, then your company is in trouble. Why? Because your data center will not keep up with frenetic pace AWS, Microsoft and Google are rolling out new capabilities In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Don Browning, VP of Cloud Architecture at Turner, will posit that disruption is inevitable for c...
There are 66 million network cameras capturing terabytes of data. How did factories in Japan improve physical security at the facilities and improve employee productivity? Edge Computing reduces possible kilobytes of data collected per second to only a few kilobytes of data transmitted to the public cloud every day. Data is aggregated and analyzed close to sensors so only intelligent results need to be transmitted to the cloud. Non-essential data is recycled to optimize storage.
As businesses adopt functionalities in cloud computing, it’s imperative that IT operations consistently ensure cloud systems work correctly – all of the time, and to their best capabilities. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Bernd Harzog, CEO and founder of OpsDataStore, will present an industry answer to the common question, “Are you running IT operations as efficiently and as cost effectively as you need to?” He will expound on the industry issues he frequently came up against as an analyst, and...
In his General Session at 16th Cloud Expo, David Shacochis, host of The Hybrid IT Files podcast and Vice President at CenturyLink, investigated three key trends of the “gigabit economy" though the story of a Fortune 500 communications company in transformation. Narrating how multi-modal hybrid IT, service automation, and agile delivery all intersect, he will cover the role of storytelling and empathy in achieving strategic alignment between the enterprise and its information technology.
"I think that everyone recognizes that for IoT to really realize its full potential and value that it is about creating ecosystems and marketplaces and that no single vendor is able to support what is required," explained Esmeralda Swartz, VP, Marketing Enterprise and Cloud at Ericsson, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem" ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that HTBase will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. HTBase (Gartner 2016 Cool Vendor) delivers a Composable IT infrastructure solution architected for agility and increased efficiency. It turns compute, storage, and fabric into fluid pools of resources that are easily composed and re-composed to meet each application’s needs. With HTBase, companies can quickly prov...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.