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It Just Works

J2EE Editorial

We tend to see the United States through a lens made up of its major population centers: New York; Los Angeles; Washington, DC; Miami; Atlanta; Chicago; and a few others. That's because these are the places that have things "going on," and as a result we get a skewed picture not only of what the United States is about, but of what the United States actually is. From this bird'seye view, you get the sense that America is all about urban angst, hip-hop, people crammed into shiny metal boxes.

The truth, however, is quite different. Those things are part of America, to be sure, but the wider reality is that America is also open, made up of small, peaceful towns; students going home after school to work on the farm; kids playing pick-up baseball games in open sandlots; shopkeepers talking to their customers by name. America's a true melting pot of color and culture - and because of the lens through which we see her, it's hard to pick out the good among all the bad.

I believe that Java can be looked at the same way, with different groupings based on operating systems, language, aptitude, and application, among other things. By the same measure, we look at our substrata (Java) through a lens the same way a nation is looked at. We see the "highwater marks," the outliers who stand out from the crowd, and as a result it's very easy for us to get a bit misled about where the stream really stands, you might say.

I suspect that Java's doing much better than people fear. There have been lots of events lately (the "Java Desktop," Bill Joy's resignation, and Merrill Lynch's rather pessimistic recommendation to Sun that it spin off Java, among others) that focus on the negative, that aim attention at where Java hasn't succeeded, or, possibly, where it has yet to be successfully leveraged. This is focusing on the choppy surface, ignoring the calm beneath.

I think there's a great chance that past all the hype - positive and negative - Java's doing very well; it's very robust, it's very capable, and the negativity needs to be seen for what it really is - noise and fury aimed at the infrastructure in which Java exists. Are there power plays and egos at stake? Certainly…but do they really affect the ordinary Java developer? I'd say no.

What you're seeing from the industry analysts, academics, and the press is equivalent to Sim City from the city planner's perspective, and I think the Sims themselves are bopping around happily in sometimes unexpected (and unexpectedly successful) ways.

•  •  •

Lately, I've been working on a set of applications using some very nice hardware and software, things that haven't been getting a lot of press coverage: a Sparc laptop (Tadpole Computer's SparcLE), Solaris 9, the poor old J2SDK 1.4.2, Orion, and a variety of editors including Eclipse, IDEA, and JBuilder 9. Honestly, I've surprised myself: it's been an eye-opening experience, reminding me of how nice all this is. These things aren't sexy anymore, as far as I can see. They just work, and work well. I'm not fiddling about with cutting-edge stuff, hoping that it'll come together in time to create a successful application; I'm using the standards to do what I need them to do, as building blocks for an application that does what I need. Perhaps these things don't have the bullet- list success that others do, and I'm fine with that - I'd rather just get things done. This stuff isn't rocket science unless we make it that way, and we don't have to. One of Java's strengths is in abstraction, so that we don't have to be the academic upper crust, working with obscure technical epistemology to obviate technical detritus to accomplish minutiae; we just put things together so they work. Sure, we may not always tune things specifically for a given platform or solution space - but we can do what we need faster, with fewer bugs, and with more portability than anyone else.

This stuff rocks.

More Stories By Joseph Ottinger

I am a software evangelist for GigaSpaces technologies, as well as a writer and musician. I've been the editor-in-chief of Java Developer's Journal and TheServerSide.

GigaSpaces Technologies is a leading provider of a new generation of application platforms for Java and .Net environments that offer an alternative to traditional application-servers. The company's eXtreme Application Platform (XAP) is a high-end application server, designed to meet the most demanding business requirements in a cost-effective manner. It is the only product that provides a complete middleware solution on a single, scalable platform. XAP is trusted by Fortune 100 companies, which leverage it as a strategic solution that enhances efficiency and agility across the IT organization.

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