I’m glad I went to JavaOne. I want to go again. In order of increasing importance: The Java language is looking stale. The Java platform is looking interesting. And the Java community, well, it’s something special.
The Community · Damn, it’s big: millions and millions. Let’s assume it’s the better-and-brighter who come out to JavaOne. And I’m impressed. These are people who aren’t religious and aren’t close-minded and just want to Get Shit Done. Oh, and they’ve already got a lot of it done and they aren’t interested in discarding that investment.
Any technology that’s plausibly going to help these people get their jobs done better, with any combination of less time, better quality, and less pain, given that it works with what they’ve got, is going to get a fair hearing. And did I mention it’s big? The party line claims over six million developers, and even allowing for marketing over-reach leaves you with a big number.
Any technology that wants to hit the big-time that isn’t making a pitch for these people is being unclear on the concept.
The Platform · Lord knows I’ve gone on enough about the difference between the Java language and the platform. But the platform, hey, it’s really pretty slick. After I wrote up the RESTful SOA preso from Overstock.com, I ran into Sean Landis and Ian Robertson walking around the trade-show floor. They were telling me about the latency they were seeing, end-to-end in and out of their RESTlet-based Java stack, and couldn’t remember off the top of their heads whether it was 20 or 40 ms. I know some people working on complicated Rails deployments, and let’s just say the latencies are, well, different.
And you know, the platform’s not standing still; check out John Rose’s superb The Golden Spike. Dissing the JVM engineers would be a symptom of stupidity, and these guys are biting into JVM-for-everything issues with a vengeance; they are fortunate to have the JRuby gang serving them up a big, fat, juicy, co-operative test-case.
The Language · I’ve written a ton of Java over the years. I can still remember how much I enjoyed learning it (not till ’96 in my case, writing the world’s first XML parser), how you could fit it all in your head and how well the pieces fit together and how things Just Worked.
Nowadays, I have to say, I really have trouble with Java-the-language. I hated generics when they arrived and while I’ve tried to be fair, I just haven’t been able to unclench.
But mostly, there’s just Too Much Code. The job can be done with less, and increasingly I think it should be. And I read things like Refactoring from Ceremony to Essence and I know I’m not alone.
The Future · If you want to read some really smart words on this subject, and you have a half-hour to spare, hop on over to Steve Yegge’s Dynamic Languages Strike Back. What Steve said.
As far as languages go, higher-level is the future. As far as platforms go, I wouldn’t want to bet against Java.