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

Pocket Arcade Story (Games)
Pocket Arcade Story 1.00 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.00 (iTunes) Description: Here comes a new challenger: it's the arcade simulation game you've been waiting for! Build your very own gaming... | Read more »
How to get coins faster in Rodeo Stamped...
There comes a time in a cowboy or cowgirl's life when all the riding and lassoing skills in the world aren't enough. You're going to need some cold, hard cash to keep your sky zoo expanding in Rodeo Stampede. [Read more] | Read more »
How to out-do Cam Newton in Can You Dab?
The thing about dance crazes is that you're never really sure when they've run their course. Take the Dab, for instance. Propelled by its adoption as the touchdown celebration of choice for Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, the Dab seemed... | Read more »
Artik Games releases Splashy Cats for An...
Splashy Cats had us hooked from the title alone, and when we found out the game was literally just zig-zagging one of our favourite pop-culture references, guised as a playable cat character, down a river – our appetites were whetted to say the... | Read more »
Battle Cars (Games)
Battle Cars 1.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.1 (iTunes) Description: Welcome to the world of Battle Cars. Battle Cars is a classic arcade top-down racing game with fast mini cars and funny weapons to... | Read more »
How to get started with live.ly
One could be forgiven for thinking that there are already plenty of streaming video apps out there. It's just that the App Store charts would insist that you're mistaken. [Read more] | Read more »
Rodeo Stampede: Guide to all Savannah an...
A "gotta catch 'em all" joke seems appropriate here, even though we're talking animals in Rodeo Stampede and not pocket monsters. By now you've probably had plenty of rides, tamed some animals and built yourself a pretty nice zoo | Read more »
Is there cross-platform play in slither....
So you've sunken plenty of hours into crawling around in slither.io on your iPhone or iPad. You've got your stories of tragedy and triumph, the times you coiled four snakes at one time balanced out by the others when you had a length of more than... | Read more »
Rodeo Stampede guide to running a better...
In Rodeo Stampede, honing your skills so you can jump from animal to animal and outrun the herd as long as possible is only half the fun. Once you've tamed a few animals, you can bring them home with you. [Read more] | Read more »
VoxSyn (Music)
VoxSyn 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Music Price: $6.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: VoxSyn turns your voice into the most flexible vocal sound generator ever. Instantly following even subtle modulations of pitch and... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

KeyCue 8.1 Integrates With Typinator To Displ...
Ergonis Software has released KeyCue 8.1, a new version of the company’s keyboard shortcut cheat sheet. KeyCue 8 introduced a new way to define a wide variety of triggers, which can be used to... Read more
Save up to $600 with Apple refurbished Mac Pr...
Apple has Certified Refurbished Mac Pros available for up to $600 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each Mac Pro, and shipping is free. The following... Read more
21-inch 2.8GHz iMac on sale for $1199, save $...
Amazon has the 21″ 2.8GHz iMac (model #MK442LL/A) on sale for $1199.99 including free shipping. Their price is $100 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model. Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro (Apple refurbished...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pros available for $829, or $270 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free: - 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pros... Read more
MacBook Airs on sale for up to $50-$100 off M...
B&H Photo has 13″ and 11″ MacBook Airs on sale for up to $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 11″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air: $849 $50 off list price - 11″ 1.... Read more
Brexit Vote Result Forecast To Slash UK 2016...
Uncertainty and economic volatility can be expected to increase over the next nine months, as the Brexit and concerns over the future of the EU hit IT investment, say Canalys market analysts, with... Read more
13-inch 256GB MacBook Air on sale for $1149,...
Amazon has the 2016 13″ 1.6GHz/256GB MacBook Air (model MMGG2LL/A) on sale for $1149.99 including free shipping. Their price is also $50 off MSRP. Read more
Haven App Launches New Age Of Wirless 911 Eme...
Haven from RapidSOS represents a transformation in access to emergency services from a phone call solely dependent on voice to a robust data connection for voice, text, medical/demographic data.... Read more
Cu Parachute 1.1 Retirement Success PLanning...
Tucson, Arizona based Indie developer Bradley McCarthy has announce the release of Cu (Copper) Parachute 1.1 for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices — a tool with which users can continuously... Read more
Research and Markets Releases iPhone 6s Plus...
A new analysis report from Dublin-based Research and Markets observes that with the iPhone 6s Plus, Apple introduced a new rear camera module. The new device has similar structure and technology than... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* iPhone 6s and New Products Tester Ne...
…we therefore look forward to put out products to quality test for durability. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store, Read more
*Apple* iPhone 6s and New Products Tester Ne...
…we therefore look forward to put out products to quality test for durability. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions, Willow...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* iPhone 6s and New Products Tester Ne...
…we therefore look forward to put out products to quality test for durability. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store, Read more
*Apple* iPhone 6s and New Products Tester Ne...
…we therefore look forward to put out products to quality test for durability. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.