Welcome!

Java Authors: Pat Romanski, Carmen Gonzalez, Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz, Yakov Fain

Related Topics: Java

Java: Article

Father of Java Seeks to Extinguish "Scripting Flamewar"

James Gosling's "Scripting Language" Remarks on SYS-CON.TV Now Clarified

'Yes, I did say those things,' wrote James Gosling (pictured talking to SYS-CON.TV), as he blogged a detailed follow-up to the 'flamewar' that broke out after JDJ reported his answer to a question asked at a New York conference by our Enterprise Editor, Yakov Fain. According to Gosling, the problem arose only because 'there's a lot of context missing' from our account of his reply, which he called "the flippant soundbite version of what should have been a long and careful explanation that could easily mushroom into a series of PhD theses."

Gosling distances himself from the "flamage" in two ways. First, he emphasizes that he knows whereof he speaks when it comes to scripting:

"Over the years I've built quite a lot of scripting systems. I've also built a number of compilers for non-scripting languages. Given enough beer I'll even admit to having implemented a Cobol compiler for money in the deep dark past. But I've done more scripting systems than non-scripting systems."

Next, he takes issue with those who would narrow down the debate about what language is appropriate to what task to just two types.

"[T]here are all kinds of generalizations about 'scripting languages' versus 'compiled languages.' My big problem with a lot of it is simply that these two polarizing categories are a pretty poor way of capturing the distinctions between language designs. The terms are almost as goofy as 'Republican' versus 'Democrat.' Taking huge multi-dimensional spaces of choices on different issues, then combining and simplifying them all down to a brutally simple binary choice is goofy."

Leaving aside that the brief JDJ account in fact stressed how any discussion about Java "versus" PHP or Ruby or any other language is moot, according to Gosling, whom we prominently reported as saying...

"We also tried to work with all these languages, so that Java works with PHP and works with Python, so you can do the web presentation layer in PHP and the analytics in Java. Lots of people do that."

...leaving that aside, the main development since we published the report is that, even though Gosling himself said categorically that in the JDJ report "The quote is accurate," a fuller transcript has become available.

Basically what happened is that JDJ's Yakov Fain asked Gosling: "There are many different languages in the world. Some people are saying there are some other new languages coming up and Java is endangered. Do you feel this way?"

Gosling replied (in full):

"No I don't, really. Most languages that have been coming up lately have been scripting languages - things like PHP and Ruby. And these are all perfectly fine systems.

A lot of the power that they get is through specialization. So it seems to me that all the languages people are talking about as being exciting today are all ones that just generate web pages. So if all you want to do is generate web pages, they work pretty well. But none of them attempt any real serious breadth in the application domain, and they all have really serious scaling and performance problems.

In all of these dynamic languages, if you try to write something in them that has serious performance requirements, they all fall over horribly. If you write a statement a = b + c, Java versus PHP its close to a factor of 100 in performance difference. What's really nice about them is that because they're focused in that one domain, they can make a lot of programming in that one domain a lot simpler.

What we've been trying to do is get a lot of that simplicity out of the tool. Because we have this horrible balancing act. On the one hand we really need simplicity, and on the other hand we really need power. And those are evil twin brothers of each other. Building systems that have a lot of power just sort of attracts complexity. And because of the way that the world has become so interconnected, it helps hugely to have systems where you do have a framework that carries over.

So with PHP you can write stuff that does web presentation stuff pretty well. You could never write a library that does interplanetary navigation in PHP. It just doesn't work.

The other one that's out there is C# from Microsoft. At some level it is hard to criticize C# because they just copied the Java spec. There was a time when we were afraid they were going to do something really creative, and they didn't. ... And they're obviously focused on one platform.

We also try to work with all of these. We know there's lots of folks who talk about Java versus X or Java versus Y. And we work hard to make sure Java works with PHP and works with Python. So you can do the web presentation layer in PHP. Lots of people do the web presentation layer in PHP and analytics in Java, because Java's really good for doing high performance analytics."

In other words, the version that Yakov Fain published in his own popular blog wasn't far off.

The Father of Java was upset enough about being taken for task for seeming to underestimate scripting languages and overestimating Java to spend some considerable time blogging his way out of the controversy. He started by clarifying what he sees as being the distinction between the two categories:

"I'll make the generalization that 'scripting language' means one that is interpreted with dynamic runtime typing, and the other camp is languages that are compiled to machine code and have static runtime typing. This is a broad over-simplifying generalization, but it matches pretty well what goes on in common conversations."

His masterclass - one of the longest entries in his java.net blog since he began - continues:

"One of the usual arguments for scripting languages having acceptable performance is that the overhead of interpretation and dynamic typing doesn't matter. The performance of the system is dominated by other factors: typically IO and the language primitives. For example, PERL apps usually spend the majority of their time in file IO and string primitives. I've strongly made this argument in the past, and it's quite valid. But having observed developers usage patterns, the two most common things that happen to erode the argument are:

Developers start doing things that are outside of what the language primitives are good at. For example, PostScript has great primitives for rendering. So long as you're doing rendering, it flies like the wind. But then someone goes and writes a game that's heavily based on rendering, and a piece of it needs to do collision detection between missiles and targets. Physics in PostScript: a bad idea. Developers start clamoring for new primitives. Some are too specialized to be reasonable 'I want a fast collision engine,' some are rational 'object oriented programming has become the dominant style in PostScript, but the OO model is implemented in PostScript as a library and is slow.'"

What most developers seem concerned about, at this point, is not whether Gosling is right or wrong, quoted fairly or misquoted, so much as: what's best for them to learn and to use right now if they wish to eke a living our of software development.

Let us then risk further ire by giving the last word to the developer Roy Batty who wrote, in a feedback thread to one of the many discussions that the original JDJ report sparked off:

"The irony about the 'serving up web pages' statement is that Java never really made it out onto the desktop at large and the vast majority of the presentation of Java apps is done through a browser...Gosling needs to get back to the lab and think about what's beyond Java."

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

Comments (11)

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.


@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Matrix.org has been named “Silver Sponsor” of Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Matrix is an ambitious new open standard for open, distributed, real-time communication over IP. It defines a new approach for interoperable Instant Messaging and VoIP based on pragmatic HTTP APIs and WebRTC, and provides open source reference implementations to showcase and bootstrap the new standard. Our focus is on simplicity, security, and supporting the fullest feature set.
BSQUARE is a global leader of embedded software solutions. We enable smart connected systems at the device level and beyond that millions use every day and provide actionable data solutions for the growing Internet of Things (IoT) market. We empower our world-class customers with our products, services and solutions to achieve innovation and success. For more information, visit www.bsquare.com.
Connected devices are changing the way we go about our everyday life, from wearables to driverless cars, to smart grids and entire industries revolutionizing business opportunities through smart objects, capable of two-way communication. But what happens when objects are given an IP-address, and we rely on that connection, sometimes with our lives? How do we secure those vast data infrastructures and safe-keep the privacy of sensitive information? This session will outline how each and every connected device can uphold a core root of trust via a unique cryptographic signature – a “bir...
From a software development perspective IoT is about programming "things," about connecting them with each other or integrating them with existing applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Yakov Fain, co-founder of Farata Systems and SuranceBay, will show you how small IoT-enabled devices from multiple manufacturers can be integrated into the workflow of an enterprise application. This is a practical demo of building a framework and components in HTML/Java/Mobile technologies to serve as a platform that can integrate new devices as they become available on the market.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Utimaco will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Utimaco is a leading manufacturer of hardware based security solutions that provide the root of trust to keep cryptographic keys safe, secure critical digital infrastructures and protect high value data assets. Only Utimaco delivers a general-purpose hardware security module (HSM) as a customizable platform to easily integrate into existing software solutions, embed business logic and build s...
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic • Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it’s a mix of architectural style...
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash Inc., will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SOA Software, an API management leader, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SOA Software is a leading provider of API Management and SOA Governance products that equip business to deliver APIs and SOA together to drive their company to meet its business strategy quickly and effectively. SOA Software’s technology helps businesses to accelerate their digital channels with APIs, drive partner adoption, monetize their assets, and achieve a...
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Red Hat, the world's leading provider of open source solutions, will exhibit at Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Red Hat is the world's leading provider of open source software solutions, using a community-powered approach to reliable and high-performing cloud, Linux, middleware, storage and virtualization technologies. Red Hat also offers award-winning support, training, and consulting services. As the connective hub in a global network of enterprises, partners, a...
Internet of @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley announced on Thursday its first 12 all-star speakers and sessions for its upcoming event, which will take place November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in California. @ThingsExpo, the first and largest IoT event in the world, debuted at the Javits Center in New York City in June 10-12, 2014 with over 6,000 delegates attending the conference. Among the first 12 announced world class speakers, IBM will present two highly popular IoT sessions, which will take place November 4-6, 2014 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, Calif...
WebRTC defines no default signaling protocol, causing fragmentation between WebRTC silos. SIP and XMPP provide possibilities, but come with considerable complexity and are not designed for use in a web environment. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Matthew Hodgson, technical co-founder of the Matrix.org, will discuss how Matrix is a new non-profit Open Source Project that defines both a new HTTP-based standard for VoIP & IM signaling and provides reference implementations.

SUNNYVALE, Calif., Oct. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Spansion Inc. (NYSE: CODE), a global leader in embedded systems, today added 96 new products to the Spansion® FM4 Family of flexible microcontrollers (MCUs). Based on the ARM® Cortex®-M4F core, the new MCUs boast a 200 MHz operating frequency and support a diverse set of on-chip peripherals for enhanced human machine interfaces (HMIs) and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. The rich set of periphera...

SYS-CON Events announced today that Aria Systems, the recurring revenue expert, has been named "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Aria Systems helps leading businesses connect their customers with the products and services they love. Industry leaders like Pitney Bowes, Experian, AAA NCNU, VMware, HootSuite and many others choose Aria to power their recurring revenue business and deliver exceptional experiences to their customers.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to require a new way of thinking and of developing software for speed, security and innovation. This requires IT leaders to balance business as usual while anticipating for the next market and technology trends. Cloud provides the right IT asset portfolio to help today’s IT leaders manage the old and prepare for the new. Today the cloud conversation is evolving from private and public to hybrid. This session will provide use cases and insights to reinforce the value of the network in helping organizations to maximize their company’s cloud experience.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is making everything it touches smarter – smart devices, smart cars and smart cities. And lucky us, we’re just beginning to reap the benefits as we work toward a networked society. However, this technology-driven innovation is impacting more than just individuals. The IoT has an environmental impact as well, which brings us to the theme of this month’s #IoTuesday Twitter chat. The ability to remove inefficiencies through connected objects is driving change throughout every sector, including waste management. BigBelly Solar, located just outside of Boston, is trans...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Matrix.org has been named “Silver Sponsor” of Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Matrix is an ambitious new open standard for open, distributed, real-time communication over IP. It defines a new approach for interoperable Instant Messaging and VoIP based on pragmatic HTTP APIs and WebRTC, and provides open source reference implementations to showcase and bootstrap the new standard. Our focus is on simplicity, security, and supporting the fullest feature set.
Predicted by Gartner to add $1.9 trillion to the global economy by 2020, the Internet of Everything (IoE) is based on the idea that devices, systems and services will connect in simple, transparent ways, enabling seamless interactions among devices across brands and sectors. As this vision unfolds, it is clear that no single company can accomplish the level of interoperability required to support the horizontal aspects of the IoE. The AllSeen Alliance, announced in December 2013, was formed with the goal to advance IoE adoption and innovation in the connected home, healthcare, education, aut...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Red Hat, the world's leading provider of open source solutions, will exhibit at Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Red Hat is the world's leading provider of open source software solutions, using a community-powered approach to reliable and high-performing cloud, Linux, middleware, storage and virtualization technologies. Red Hat also offers award-winning support, training, and consulting services. As the connective hub in a global network of enterprises, partners, a...
The only place to be June 9-11 is Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo 2015 East at the Javits Center in New York City. Join us there as delegates from all over the world come to listen to and engage with speakers & sponsors from the leading Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data companies. Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo are the leading events covering the booming market of Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data for the enterprise. Speakers from all over the world will be hand-picked for their ability to explore the economic strategies that utility/cloud computing provides. Whether public, private, or in a hybrid form, clo...