I just got around to reading Bruce Tate’s Beyond Java. I think that the senior people in the Java groups at Sun, and all the other Java powers, should read and think about it (and for that matter the CLR people over at Microsoft). The premise of the book is really nothing new: There are a lot of problems out there for which smart, senior people are reporting that there are languages and/or frameworks that produce solutions quicker and better than Java. Beyond Java assembles a lot of this testimony, claims that we’re at an inflection point, and goes on to speculate about what comes next. It argues interestingly by looking back at the history of Java’s explosive rise from nowhere to world domination; but at the end of the day I’m not sure the historical analogies are useful. In other gripes, the book’s structure is a little messy, and the kayaking anecdotes that introduce each chapter could have been dropped without loss of value. I also disagree with Tate’s argument that Swing and SWT are useless, part of the problem not the solution. I hear loud complaints about every GUI-builder; somewhat fewer about those in OS X; anyhow, as far as I know none of the beyond-Java alternatives are rich-user-interface champs. [Thanks to Sam Ruby for pointing out that I’d misread Tate’s argument on this, first time around.] Still, it’s a solid piece of work; see also Sam Ruby’s take and the discussion over at java.net. The book got me thinking about two great big important complicated issues: the future of the JVM, and the right way to build Web applications; but each of those gets its own essay.

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November 30, 2005
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