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.

 
AAPL
$109.41
Apple Inc.
+2.67
MSFT
$45.74
Microsoft Corpora
+0.58
GOOG
$504.89
Google Inc.
+9.50

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Command-C 1.1.7 - Clipboard sharing tool...
Command-C is a revolutionary app which makes easy to share your clipboard between iOS and OS X using your local WiFi network, even if the app is not currently opened. Copy anything (text, pictures,... Read more
Tidy Up 4.0.2 - Find duplicate files and...
Tidy Up is a complete duplicate finder and disk-tidiness utility. With Tidy Up you can search for duplicate files and packages by the owner application, content, type, creator, extension, time... Read more
Typinator 6.3 - Speedy and reliable text...
Typinator turbo-charges your typing productivity. Type a little. Typinator does the rest. We've all faced projects that require repetitive typing tasks. With Typinator, you can store commonly used... Read more
GraphicConverter 9.5 - Graphics editor w...
GraphicConverter is an all-purpose image-editing program that can import 200 different graphic-based formats, edit the image, and export it to any of 80 available file formats. The high-end editing... Read more
Toast Titanium 12.0.1 - The ultimate med...
Toast Titanium goes way beyond the very basic burning in the Mac OS and iLife software, and sets the standard for burning CDs, DVDs, and now Blu-ray discs on the Mac. Create superior sounding audio... Read more
QuickBooks 2015 16.0.2.1422 R3 - Financi...
Save 20% on QuickBooks Pro for Mac today through this special discount link QuickBooks Pro 2013 helps you manage your business easily and efficiently. Organize your finances all in one place, track... Read more
Remotix 3.0.6 - Access all your computer...
Remotix is a fast and powerful application to easily access multiple Macs (and PCs) from your own Mac. Features: Complete Apple Screen Sharing support - including Mac OS X login, clipboard... Read more
BetterZip Quick Look Generator 1.5 - Let...
BetterZip Quick Look Generator lets you view the contents of compressed archives through OS X's Quick Look functions. Simply select an archive in the Finder, in Mail, or Spotlight and press the... Read more
Sandvox 2.9.3 - Easily build eye-catchin...
Sandvox is for Mac users who want to create a professional looking website quickly and easily. With Sandvox, you don't need to be a Web genius to build a stylish, feature-rich, standards-compliant... Read more
Pixelmator 3.3.1 - Powerful layer-based...
Pixelmator is a beautifully designed, easy-to-use, fast, and powerful image editor for OS X. It has everything you need to create, edit, and enhance your images. Pixelmator is a layer-based image... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Hipstify Review
Hipstify Review By Jennifer Allen on December 17th, 2014 Our Rating: :: COOL FILTERSUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Add filters, quotes, and fancy frames to your images, thanks to Hipstify.   | Read more »
Mighty Smighties Gets Evolve Cards and N...
Mighty Smighties Gets Evolve Cards and New Worlds Posted by Jessica Fisher on December 17th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Duckie Deck Card Wars Review
Duckie Deck Card Wars Review By Amy Solomon on December 17th, 2014 Our Rating: :: STYLISH GAME OF CARDSUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Duckie Deck Card Wars adapts the classic card game War for use on devices, complete... | Read more »
PDF Office Review
PDF Office Review By Jennifer Allen on December 17th, 2014 Our Rating: :: CONVENIENT PDF EDITINGiPad Only App - Designed for the iPad Want to create your own PDF files? Import them from elsewhere? Adapt a web page into a PDF? PDF... | Read more »
The Out There: Ω Edition Update will be...
The Out There: Ω Edition Update will be Releasing in 2015, Bringing Better Graphics and Additional Content Posted by Jessica Fisher on December 17th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Pinball Planet Pro (Games)
Pinball Planet Pro 1.02 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.02 (iTunes) Description: - Our missionWe've always loved to play pinball games but we noticed most modern pinball games are simulators for the... | Read more »
Ultrakam 4k. The Professional Camera App...
Ultrakam 4k. The Professional Camera App. 3.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Photography Price: $9.99, Version: 3.0 (iTunes) Description: In March 2014, Ultrakam brought Film Resolution for iPhone for the first time ever and now is... | Read more »
Email+ (Business)
Email+ 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Business Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Send email, fast! | Read more »
Mayor it up in SimCity BuildIt, Out Now
Mayor it up in SimCity BuildIt, Out Now Posted by Jessica Fisher on December 16th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Crusaders Quest Review
Crusaders Quest Review By Jennifer Allen on December 16th, 2014 Our Rating: :: GOTTA HIRE EM ALLUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Hire as many heroes as possible in this fun at first but grind-heavy freemium RPG.   | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Holiday sales continue: MacBook Pros for up t...
 B&H Photo has new MacBook Pros on sale for up to $300 off MSRP as part of their Holiday pricing. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $1699... Read more
Google Search App For iOS Gets A Major Makeov...
Google has given iOS users an early Christmas present with a substantial update of it’s not-very-often-upgraded Google Search app. Google Search has been my go-to tool for Web searches since it was... Read more
ShopKeep Apple Pay And Chip Card Reader Avail...
ShopKeep, a cloud-based technology provider to more than 10,000 small business owners to manage retail shops and restaurants with iPads, has released its new Apple Pay and chip card reader. This... Read more
Holiday sale! 27-inch 5K iMac for $2299, save...
 B&H Photo has the 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac in stock today and on sale for $2299 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $200 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for... Read more
Holiday Sale! 3.7GHz Quad Core Mac Pro availa...
 B&H Photo has the 3.7GHz Quad Core Mac Pro on sale for $2599 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $400 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price for this model from any... Read more
iPhone 6 Number 3 Canadian Google Search Of 2...
CTVNews.ca reports that Apple’s iPhone 6 was the third highest-trending Google Canada search topic of 2014, exceeded only by Robin Williams largely after his death by suicide in August, and the FIFA... Read more
New iPad mini 3 Counter-Top & Wall Mount...
newMacgadgets has announced new secure all-acrylic displays for the iPad mini 3 (also works fine with the mini 2, last year’s iPad mini With Retina Display, and the original iPad mini). The new iPad... Read more
Holiday sales continue, MacBook Airs for up t...
B&H Photo has 2014 MacBook Airs on sale for up to $120 off MSRP, for a limited time, for the Thanksgiving/Christmas Holiday shopping season. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax... Read more
B&H lowers price on 27-inch 3.2GHz iMac t...
B&H Photo has lowered their price on the 27″ 3.2GHz iMac, now on sale for $1629 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $170 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price for this... Read more
15-inch 2.0GHz Retina MacBook Pro available f...
B&H Photo has lowered their price on leftover 2013 15″ 2.0GHz Retina MacBook Pros to $1499 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $500 off original MSRP. Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
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* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
Project Manager / Business Analyst, WW *Appl...
…a senior project manager / business analyst to work within our Worldwide Apple Fulfillment Operations and the Business Process Re-engineering team. This role will work Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.