Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, William Schmarzo, SmartBear Blog, Charlotte Spencer-Smith

Related Topics: Java IoT

Java IoT: Article

Steve Jobs Dismisses Java As "Heavyweight" in an Age of Lightweight Computing

Is Java a "Ball and Chain"?

These are curious times just now for Java. In one and the same month, Steve Jobs stands up, and declares – referring to language support on the new Apple iPhone – “Java’s not worth building in. Nobody uses Java anymore. It’s this big heavyweight ball and chain.” And in the same month a company like Backbase, whose AJAX JSF Edition is aimed at “Java developers who want to leverage the JSF standard by creating a next generation rich component-based AJAX presentation tier,” wins a 'Technology of the Year Award 2007' in the category 'AJAX Toolkits.'

So, is Java toast, history, finished, a sucked orange…or does it have plenty of “legs” yet, and Jobs's remark was just a temporary techno-backlash such as all programming languages must resist from time to time?

Bruce Eckel, who has since 1986 has published six books and over 150 computer articles, views this backlash as inevitable, foreseeable almost:

“This backlash has only been necessary because of Sun’s death grip on the idea of ubiquitous, omniscient Java. It was admirable once, but a language only evolves if its designers and advocates can acknowledge problems. Pretending that a language is successful in places where it’s not is just denial.”

But the Jobs declaration strikes as some as being a little incongruous.

"Am I the only one that finds this interesting since the format Apple is supporting for HD content is BluRay, which uses Java for all the interactive menus or BD-J discs," notes Danny Mavromatis. In other words, Jobs "is supporting a next-gen format which supports a technology that he claims nobody uses anymore."

Jobs's remark was made in an interview with New York Times technology correspondent John Markoff, but there must be more than a suspicion that it was calculated to help generate exactly the kind of massive publicity that will be necessary if Apple is to come anywhere near selling the 10 million iPhones that Jobs was predicting for 2008.

Richard Sprague offers a cautionary tale:

"I remember the lessons I learned working with the Newton team many years ago.  I was in Apple's marketing department at the time and we did this big fancy user study which basically proved that nobody would buy the thing at the price and functionality we were building.  So what did we do?  We shoved it into the market anyway because it was "cool".  Cool is great, but you still need to make phone calls."
Back to Eckel, though. Here is his take on a major flaw in Java versus AJAX:
"So Java has been around for 10 years and applets are not the primary way that we interact with the web. I think the main reason for this is the installation problem, another area of Java that wasn’t well thought-out. In fact, why do we like AJAX?

It’s clearly not because JavaScript is so easy to work with — JavaScript cross-platform problems are the reason people have avoided it in the past. AJAX is popular because we know that the necessary software for the client side is already installed.

Someone had to figure out how to deal with the cross-platform issues for JavaScript first, but if JRE installation was trivial, everyone might have just created Java applets. But they didn’t, applets are not ubiquitous, and everyone got excited about AJAX instead. So AJAX became the favored technology for RIAs."

According to Eckel, the obvious contender, instead of Java, for building RIAs is Flash, and Flex in particular.

"It’s clear that we can’t wait for Sun to fix all of Java’s problems," he writes. "Open-sourcing Java might, eventually, have a huge impact on repairing Java’s deficiencies. For example, work on the JMF might get resurrected. Maybe installation issues will even be fixed someday. The possibilities might be limitless, but if you need to solve problems now, then the solution is to hybridize parts of the language."

By way of explaining this concept of "Hybridizing Java," Eckels explains that in fact we do this already:

"You don’t insist on using a Java database for an application; you use a specialized system like MySQL or Oracle. Sun is directly supporting the development of JRuby for hybrid Java/JRuby programming. We are seeing other special-purpose languages arise to solve specialized problems. Why insist on using a Java library for UI if a specialized system solves the problem better?"
Let's give the last word to Steve Benfield, veteran technologist, who summarizes what he calls his "technology lineage" as PowerBuilder -> Silverstream -> J2EE -> AJAX -> Flex.

"If you are a Java technologist who thinks anything Flash isn't enterprise ready," Benfield states, "then you need to reshift your thinking." He adds:
"We started using Flex 3 months ago and are rocking and rolling – life is good. We can quickly build the GUI we want, integration to our J2EE/Spring/hibernate back end is seamless, and we anxiously await Apollo so we have a full desktop app."
Like I said, these are curious – and challenging – times just now for 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) 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
ferhad 02/15/07 08:04:20 AM EST

I think apple's programmers don't know to program their own phone so can't build in Java and Steve Jobs says "Java's not worth building in.":)

ferhad 02/13/07 11:33:21 AM EST

I can't think a mobile phone without Java support.In that way user won't be able to run JME applications on his device and will have to buy and use apple based applications.A good way to earn money for Apple.

raju 02/07/07 12:45:29 PM EST

Interesting! How about using OpenLaszlo and LZX for development. You'll get all the benefits: Flash 6,7, and 8 (Flex copied the concept of OpenLaszlo), DHTML/AJAX from March on AND a Java runtime within the next year.

There's a proof of concept showing that Laszlo AJAX apps will run on the CDC/PBP profile for the Java Micro Edition. The source code will be available for download, soon. Want to develop for the web, Java enabled devices, Flash 6,7 and 8 . Maybe Flash Lite support and Webkit in the future? Well, there's nothing out there right now with the potential of the OpenLaszlo technology. Become involved with the OpenLaszlo project and we'll see some magic happening.

Richard Chuo 02/05/07 01:03:55 PM EST

I think Steve Jobs was referring to Java Micro Edition (JME). Is there any killer app on any latest MIDP 2.0 capable mobile phone?

JME stack does not fit into carrier companies' business model either. Wouldn't it be great if a mobile phone user is always on line, thus carrier companies can charge users for data transit? In this case, Ajax is a much better choice for this business aim.

Besides, Apple already ported its Objective-C based frameworks (e.g. Core Animation) to iPhone. Why should Apple bother to put a JME stack on top of the micro OS X?

I was a professional Java developer. I think Java is pretty strong on the server side. However, Steve Jobs was talking about Java on Apple's mobile phone here. He was speaking of business, not exactly the technology.

By the way, I do be happy about that Sun gives a lot of supports to JRuby. ;-)

Michael Feldstein 02/03/07 12:22:31 PM EST

There's nothing incogruous about this at all. Jobs was talking specifically about running Java on the client side and, I believe, thinking about it in a browser. If you look at the features and non-features of the iPhone, it assumes ubiquitous connections and browser-based experiences. For example, it doesn't run Office apps, but it probably will let you run web-based office apps (like Google spreadsheets) in the browser. Backbase is consistent with Jobs' pronouncement because it doesn't run Java in the web client; it runs AJAX.

The interviewees in this article who talk about the shortcomings of applets are on-target, and I don't think Jobs' comments about Java being too heavyweight should be interpreted overly broadly. For goodness' sake, his OS is programmed mostly in Objective C! Furthermore, there's plenty of support specifically for Java within OS X and some of the apps that are bundled with it. One has to assume that context matters here and that Jobs' statement should be interpreted within that context.

Georgi 02/02/07 07:17:05 PM EST

Well, Job has his opinion. And he is right: Java is getting more and more bloated with frameworks, APIs etc. blah blah. I, for myself, am not that sure if this is a bless or a curse.

On the other hand, I'm not sure if Jobs is talking about the things the article (mostly) is talking about: UI. Applets? They are user interface. That war was lost long ago for Sun (Java), imho. And they know it.

Yet another hand (well, I got plenty of them here : ) I'm reading a commentary of Steve Benfield (right here in this article) who states: " ... We can quickly build the GUI we want, integration to our J2EE/Spring/hibernate back end is seamless, and we anxiously await Apollo so we have a full desktop app.". So, reading between "the wide spread" lines, he assumes that Java is running on the server side? Good. That's where Java is supposed to be...

Just my 2 cents, guys, just my 2 cents...

Ivan 02/02/07 02:50:20 PM EST

Jobs is not an engineer, he's an evangelist. He's just trying to provide justifcation for not going with a Java implementation on the iPhone. The reality is that he can't mask what it is- just another poor decision in the broken iPhone software model. Not recognizing one his important components is dependent on Java is comedic.

Bruce Eckel is just out of touch with the day to day. There's a reason Java software products are moving forward at great velocity.

There are challenges indeed for Java the language maybe as it struggles to evolve while maintaining backward compatability and design cohesion, but not for Java the larger platform. It couldn't be in better health.

Rafe Colburn 02/02/07 07:52:28 AM EST

Nick Carr does a good job of explaining how Steve Jobs' inner control freak is what's best and worst about Apple. Here's the link: http://www.roughtype.com/archives/2007/01/steves_devices.php

Teera Kanokkanjanarat 02/02/07 07:37:57 AM EST

Regarding Mr.Jobs' comment, I think he's off on this one (probably it's his RDF in the work as usual). Don't get me wrong, Steve Jobs has always been my iconic figure and I admire him greatly. Sure, his IPhone doesn't need Java if he says so (he's running Apple!), but he probably forgot that his Apple has chosen Blu-ray as its next gen DVD and Blu-ray is running Java...

Herb Bowie 02/01/07 07:56:23 PM EST

Well, Jobs' comment was probably intentionally overstated, but such overstatement is indicative of Apple's obvious decision that Java is not terribly relevant as part of its overall strategy.

However, if you look at the part of the market that Apple is primarily focused on -- client apps with cool GUIs for consumption by the general public -- this is an area where Java has little or no traction anyway.

So while Java still has a lot of usefulness on the server side, and on the client side for corporate business systems, those aren't areas of much interest to Jobs or Apple.

Ankit C 02/01/07 05:41:34 PM EST

Jobs univers might be iphone but for rest of the world JAVA is still the best. There are enterprise systems which need JAVA and will need JAVA. JAVA probably is not the best language to develop the applications for small devices but it certainly is the best for enterprise systems.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Silver Spring Networks, Inc. (NYSE: SSNI) extended its Internet of Things technology platform with performance enhancements to Gen5 – its fifth generation critical infrastructure networking platform. Already delivering nearly 23 million devices on five continents as one of the leading networking providers in the market, Silver Spring announced it is doubling the maximum speed of its Gen5 network to up to 2.4 Mbps, increasing computational performance by 10x, supporting simultaneous mesh communic...
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
One of the bewildering things about DevOps is integrating the massive toolchain including the dozens of new tools that seem to crop up every year. Part of DevOps is Continuous Delivery and having a complex toolchain can add additional integration and setup to your developer environment. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Miko Matsumura, Chief Marketing Officer of Gradle Inc., will discuss which tools to use in a developer stack, how to provision the toolchain to minimize onboa...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of enterprise storage for the hybrid cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Avere delivers a more modern architectural approach to storage that doesn’t require the overprovisioning of storage capacity to achieve performance, overspending on expensive storage media for inactive data or the overbuilding of data centers ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
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 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 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 ad...
Companies can harness IoT and predictive analytics to sustain business continuity; predict and manage site performance during emergencies; minimize expensive reactive maintenance; and forecast equipment and maintenance budgets and expenditures. Providing cost-effective, uninterrupted service is challenging, particularly for organizations with geographically dispersed operations.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
SYS-CON Events announced today that VAI, a leading ERP software provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. VAI (Vormittag Associates, Inc.) is a leading independent mid-market ERP software developer renowned for its flexible solutions and ability to automate critical business functions for the distribution, manufacturing, specialty retail and service sectors. An IBM Premier Business Part...
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & ...
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies adopt disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advanced analytics, and DevO...
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts...
As enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
SYS-CON Events announced today that iDevices®, the preeminent brand in the connected home industry, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. iDevices, the preeminent brand in the connected home industry, has a growing line of HomeKit-enabled products available at the largest retailers worldwide. Through the “Designed with iDevices” co-development program and its custom-built IoT Cloud Infrastruc...
Eighty percent of a data scientist’s time is spent gathering and cleaning up data, and 80% of all data is unstructured and almost never analyzed. Cognitive computing, in combination with Big Data, is changing the equation by creating data reservoirs and using natural language processing to enable analysis of unstructured data sources. This is impacting every aspect of the analytics profession from how data is mined (and by whom) to how it is delivered. This is not some futuristic vision: it's ha...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry's single source for the cloud. Fusion's advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including clou...
Most people haven’t heard the word, “gamification,” even though they probably, and perhaps unwittingly, participate in it every day. Gamification is “the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (as a task) so as to encourage participation.” Further, gamification is about bringing game mechanics – rules, constructs, processes, and methods – into the real world in an effort to engage people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Endo, owner and engagement manager of Intrepid D...