TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Sep 97 Viewpoint

Volume Number: 13 (1997)
Issue Number: 9
Column Tag: Viewpoint

Viewpoint

by Eric Gundrum

Java Still Brewing

There has been more hype surrounding Sun's Java than anything else I remember about the computer industry. I am not entirely sure why Java has generated so much excitement. I suspect it has something to do with the promise of truly portable computing; that is, write code once and run it anywhere and everywhere. Unfortunately Java is still very far from realizing that promise. In fact, it is about as close to that promise as bad diner coffee is to a cup of home-brewed Sumatra.

Don't get me wrong, I want a product to do what Java promises just as much as everyone else. I would love to be able to sit down in a cafe with a public Java terminal, log into my web site, read mail, review my financial accounts, work on a few articles and write some code. Doing this from any computer, anywhere, and at any time would be wonderful. This capability would likely result in computers becoming more ubiquitous than telephones. However, Java is not up to it just yet.

A Well Designed Language

In recent weeks, I have been doing some research into Java. This language seems well designed when compared to the likes of C++ and the other common object-based languages. The Java designers seem to be well versed the various object-oriented languages and pulled the best principles and techniques from many of them.

I particularly like the appropriate mix of keywords and punctuation. People cite C++ as an obfuscating language partly because it tends to use punctuation for everything; just look at how many different meanings there are for a colon. C programmers complain about Pascal's use of keywords for everything. They get irritated by having to type "BEGIN" and "END" an infinite number of times when simple braces will do just fine.

Java's syntax looks a lot like C++ on the surface, but it includes some of the verbosity of Pascal where the extra verbiage can be a real benefit. Java's designers did not go overboard; they use C-style braces to define scope, so you won't get tired fingers from typing "BEGIN" and "END" all over the place. However, they added "implements," "extends," and other keywords to make the structure and meaning of the code clear from the text, rather than relying on your memory and the terse symbols of C++.

Another nice improvement is the absence of header files. Classes are declared in the same file in which they are implemented. The class declaration is included in the resulting binary object. Want to use a Java class in your applet? Just "import" the library file containing the class. The lack of header files, coupled with dynamic binding can eliminate many of the common problems coordinating the build process on multi-person projects. It also means fewer source files to maintain.

One of the most touted improvements is having memory management built into the language. No longer do we have to waste so much time tracing down rogue handles or other memory errors. Unfortunately, the implementations of garbage collection in most Java environments still leave a lot to be desired, but this is just an implementation issue. Sooner or later the Java vendors will provide more efficient garbage collection to gain performance better than their competitors.

Too Many Flavors

The biggest problem with multi-platform Java development is that there are too many flavors of Java and they don't quite work the same. This means that we must test our applications on all of the available Java platforms if we want to be sure it works for the multi-platform audience. Java programmers have reported to me that they can spend as much as 80% of their development time tracing and resolving platform-specific idiosyncrasies. Unfortunately, it looks like this problem will get much worse before it gets any better. There are many more implementations on the way, including those embedded in microchips.

What we need is an unambiguous specification for the language and libraries, and a certification process to ensure each implementation abides by the spec. For the moment, Sun seems too busy pumping the Java media wave to deal with this issue. (Sun's "100% Java" campaign is an example of this hype.) If this problem is not solved soon, it will likely be what stops the seeming endless momentum of Java.

Conclusions

Java is a nice evolutionary step beyond C++, but it is not the be-all and end-all of languages. Java incorporates features other languages have had for years, bringing these features into the mainstream, but the implementation is still immature. In time, Java should improve significantly, the programming community will become familiar with these "new" features and they will demand them of whatever succeeds Java. First, we have to get them working in Java.

Apple has made a lot of noise about Java being important to their future success, and to ours. This makes sense. If Apple's hardware business dries up, and their OS business dries up, what's left for them to do with their valuable brand name? Apple has been positioning themselves to be an important player in the Java sandbox.

Even so, Apple's Java strategy is way behind that of the rest of the world. Currently, Mac developers have to wait far too long if they want to use the latest Java technologies on the Mac. Many developers don't wait, they use another OS. Hopefully, Apple is fixing this problem; only time will tell.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Luminar 1.0.2 - Powerful, adaptive, conf...
Luminar is the new full-featured image editor that adapts to the way you edit photos. Over 300 essential tools to fix, edit, and enhance your photos with comfort. The future of photo editing is here... Read more
WhatRoute 2.0.10 - Geographically trace...
WhatRoute is designed to find the names of all the routers an IP packet passes through on its way from your Mac to a destination host. It also measures the round-trip time from your Mac to the router... Read more
Slack 2.3.3 - Collaborative communicatio...
Slack is a collaborative communication app that simplifies real-time messaging, archiving, and search for modern working teams. Version 2.3.3: Fixed window zoom jumping back-and-forth OS X 10.9... Read more
Lens Blur 1.4.3 - True out-of-focus boke...
Lens Blur transforms your existing photo into true SLR-quality out-of-focus bokeh effect! Everyone needs a gorgeous personalized background for a social profile, blog, Web/UI design, presentation, or... Read more
CleanMyMac 3.6.0 - $39.95
CleanMyMac makes space for the things you love. Sporting a range of ingenious new features, CleanMyMac lets you safely and intelligently scan and clean your entire system, delete large, unused files... Read more
DEVONthink Pro 2.9.8 - Knowledge base, i...
DEVONthink Pro is your essential assistant for today's world, where almost everything is digital. From shopping receipts to important research papers, your life often fills your hard drive in the... Read more
MacFamilyTree 8.1 - Create and explore y...
MacFamilyTree gives genealogy a facelift: modern, interactive, convenient and fast. Explore your family tree and your family history in a way generations of chroniclers before you would have loved.... Read more
HoudahSpot 4.2.7 - Advanced file-search...
HoudahSpot is a powerful file search tool. Use HoudahSpot to locate hard-to-find files and keep frequently used files within reach. HoudahSpot will immediately feel familiar. It works just the way... Read more
TunnelBear 3.0.7 - Subscription-based pr...
TunnelBear is a subscription-based virtual private network (VPN) service and companion app, enabling you to browse the internet privately and securely. Features Browse privately - Secure your data... Read more
Garmin Express 4.5.0.0 - Manage your Gar...
Garmin Express is your essential tool for managing your Garmin devices. Update maps, golf courses and device software. You can even register your device. Update maps Update software Register your... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Telltale Games really is working on a Gu...
Telltale Games' next episodic adventure is indeed Guardians of the Galaxy. A document tied to the voice actors strike suggested that the project was in the work, but now we have direct confirmation following an announcement at the Game Awards that... | Read more »
Amateur Surgeon returns to iOS and Andro...
Amateur Surgeon and its two sequels disappeared from the App Store some time and it was sad days for all. But now, just in time for the holidays, the Adult Swim favorite makes its joyous return in the shape of Amateur Surgeon 4, a remake with... | Read more »
The best board games on mobile
Sometimes you need to ditch all of the high speed, high action games in favor of something a little more traditional. If you don't feel like parting ways from your mobile device, though, there are still plenty of ways to get that old-school fix.... | Read more »
The best Facebook Messenger Instant Game...
Facebook's new Instant Games is now here, meaning you can play games with your friends directly via Facebook. It's a fun new way to connect with friends, of course, but it's also proving to be a solid gaming experience in its own right, with a... | Read more »
You can now play game's on Facebook...
Facebook launched its new Instant Games platform in an exciting new attempt to engage its user base. As a result, you can now play a number of different games directly through Facebook Messenger. All of these games run with HTML5, meaning you play... | Read more »
Apollo Justice Ace Attorney (Games)
Apollo Justice Ace Attorney 1.00.00 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.00.00 (iTunes) Description: Court Is Back In Session Star as rookie defense attorney, Apollo Justice, as he visits crime scenes,... | Read more »
KORG iWAVESTATION (Music)
KORG iWAVESTATION 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Music Price: $19.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: A revolutionary new world of sound.The Wave Sequence Synthesizer for iPad - KORG iWAVESTATION | Read more »
Don't Grind Guide: Tips for becomin...
Don’t Grind is a surprising, derpy little one touch game with fun hand-drawn graphics. The goal is simple -- get the high score without being chopped to bits. That can be tough when you’re not used to the game, and that’s compounded by the fact... | Read more »
The top 4 Final Fantasy games on mobile
Final Fantasy XV is out today, and to celebrate we’re breaking down the best Final Fantasy games on mobile. Porting a game to mobile is always tricky business, but many of the early Final Fantasy games have made the transition quite well. Let’s... | Read more »
Swap Sword (Games)
Swap Sword 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Parallels Toolbox 1.3 for Mac Offers 25 Singl...
Parallels has launched Parallels Toolbox 1.3 for Mac, an upgrade that adds five new utilities to the stand-alone application which was released in August and is available exclusively online at http... Read more
OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual mini Ultra-Portabl...
OWC has introduced the new OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual mini, a powerful yet ultra-portable dual-drive RAID solution. The new Mercury Elite Pro Dual mini packs phenomenal performance into a small... Read more
Clearance 13-inch Retina MacBook Pros availab...
B&H Photo has clearance 2015 13″ Retina Apple MacBook Pros available for up to $200 off original MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only: - 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro: $... Read more
Roundup of 2016 13-inch 2.0GHz MacBook Pro sa...
B&H has the non-Touch Bar 13″ MacBook Pros in stock today for $50-$100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 2.0GHz MacBook Pro Space Gray (MLL42LL/A): $1449 $... Read more
New 13-inch 2.0GHz Space Gray MacBook Pro in...
Adorama has the new 13″ 2.0GHz Space Gray MacBook Pro (non-Touch Bar, MLL42LL/A) in stock for $1499 including a free 3-year AppleCare Protection Plan. Shipping is free, and Adorama charges sales tax... Read more
Finnair Adopts iOS Enterprise iPad Apps from...
Finnair and IBM have announced a first-of-its-kind agreement to utilize iOS enterprise apps from IBM to support the airline’s overall digital transformation. Finnair is focused on Asia-Europe traffic... Read more
Tech21 Launches Evo Go iPhone 7 Case Availabl...
Tech21 has announced the launch of the Evo Go case for Apple iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, exclusively at T-Mobile. Available online and at participating T-Mobile stores nationwide, Evo Go cases start... Read more
Apple Turns (RED) with More Ways to Join the...
In recognition of World AIDS Day, Apple is offering more ways than ever for customers to join (RED) in its mission to create an AIDS-free generation. Apple is the worlds largest corporate contributor... Read more
Deals on new 15-inch Touch Bar MacBook Pros,...
B&H Photo has new 2016 Apple 15″ Touch Bar MacBook Pro models in stock today with some available for $50 off MSRP, each including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.7GHz Touch Bar... Read more
12-inch Retina MacBooks on sale for up to $10...
12-inch Retina MacBooks remain on sale at B&H Photo with models available for up to $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. B&H will also include a free copy... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* & PC Desktop Support Technician...
Apple & PC Desktop Support Technician job in Dallas TX Introduction: We have immediate job openings for several Desktop Support Technicians with one of our most Read more
*Apple* &Amp Pc Desktop Support Technici...
Apple & PC Desktop Support Technician job in Monroe, CT Introduction: We have immediate job openings for several Desktop Support Technicians with one of our most Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions, Fort Wo...
Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions- Greenvi...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
US- *Apple* Store Leader Program - Apple (Un...
…Summary Learn and grow as you explore the art of leadership at the Apple Store. You'll master our retail business inside and out through training, hands-on Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.