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A Modern-Day Cinderella

A Modern-Day Cinderella

I can contain my annoyance no longer. I've watched comments, blogs, and industrial news come and go; I've had sleepless nights and gone off my food.

My argument? The name "Java 2 Standard Edition" should be changed to "Core Java," from a marketing point of view. If there is one thing I've noticed over the last year or so, it's the growing belief that J2EE (the not-so-core Java) doesn't need the "Standard Edition," and I don't see much in the way of an explanation as to what's required to get all this technology working.

While at JDJ I've been standing on a soapbox and yelling about reading API docs and learning, teaching, and helping others. Now I get the feeling that part of the problem lies with Sun and how they encourage developers to download and learn the core principles of Java properly.

Since a lot of software development is Web based, the core API gets overshadowed by its bigger, well-dressed brother. J2EE drinks fine wines, goes to expensive restaurants, and drives nice cars. J2SE is merely forgotten, left in the corner to do the dishes. It's a modern-day Cinderella. Scott McNealy told everyone about Sun's 10-million developer expectation at his JavaOne keynote. All very nice, but if we don't really know which development kit to use to get our "Hello World" working, then there's a serious failure in communication that needs to be addressed.

I think we better look at the word "core"; the dictionary definition is: "The most important part of anything." I'll go as far as saying that the current development kit is at a stage where you could, if you wanted, create a decent application without external libraries from SourceForge or the Jakarta Apache project. The core API has logging, regular expressions, and XML handling. It's come of age; it's grown up a bit but it still feels like a misunderstood teenager.

Sun should put more emphasis on the core aspect of the Java language. In my opinion, this emphasis is missing at the moment while they are trying to win the hearts of the enterprise community (easy to see why they do that; that's where the money is). All very well, but it makes it difficult for new developers to understand the basic concepts of Java. If you point developers in the right direction, they tend to pick up the concepts and get on with it; confuse them and they tend to drop everything and moan. Don't tell me it doesn't happen - I see the lists, read the blogs, and listen to the conversations.

I've been talking to Alan a lot about getting back to basics in what we cover in the J2SE section of JDJ. The quality of the articles we have published is excellent and many more good articles will follow, but I noticed a lack of articles on core principles and working with the basics. As always there's an open invitation for anyone who wants to put something together to please send in a proposal (http://grids.sys-con.com/proposal). I know we've covered all the basic stuff before, but the API has changed and it's worth going over from time to time. There's no harm in a refresher.

I'm not in the area of Sun bashing, but I do think they need to revisit how they communicate their products, and how they encourage teaching the concepts (the Java Tutorials are looking a bit long in the tooth, but are still worth their weight in gold). If Scott McNealy can shout about Java as well as he does, then I'm sure there's something we can all learn from him when it comes to selling our wares on the Internet.

I just hope the dream doesn't become an "all talk and no action" problem that Sun will come back to in 12 months time, still trying to figure out why the developer numbers haven't increased as they had hoped.

More Stories By Jason Bell

Jason Bell is founder of Aerleasing, a B2B auction site for the airline industry. He has been involved in numerous business intelligence companies and start ups and is based in Northern Ireland. Jason can be contacted at [email protected]

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