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
$102.50
Apple Inc.
+0.25
MSFT
$45.43
Microsoft Corpora
+0.55
GOOG
$571.60
Google Inc.
+2.40

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Path Finder 6.5.5 - Powerful, award-winn...
Path Finder is a file browser that combines the familiar Finder interface with the powerful utilities and innovative features. Just a small selection of the Path Finder 6 feature set: Dual pane... Read more
QuarkXPress 10.2.1 - Desktop publishing...
With QuarkXPress, you can communicate in all the ways you need to -- and always look professional -- in print and digital media, all in a single tool. Features include: Easy to Use -- QuarkXPress is... Read more
Skype 6.19.0.450 - Voice-over-internet p...
Skype allows you to talk to friends, family and co-workers across the Internet without the inconvenience of long distance telephone charges. Using peer-to-peer data transmission technology, Skype... Read more
VueScan 9.4.41 - Scanner software with a...
VueScan is a scanning program that works with most high-quality flatbed and film scanners to produce scans that have excellent color fidelity and color balance. VueScan is easy to use, and has... Read more
Cloud 3.0.0 - File sharing from your men...
Cloud is simple file sharing for the Mac. Drag a file from your Mac to the CloudApp icon in the menubar and we take care of the rest. A link to the file will automatically be copied to your clipboard... Read more
LibreOffice 4.3.1.2 - Free Open Source o...
LibreOffice is an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, drawing tool) compatible with other major office suites. The Document Foundation is coordinating development and... Read more
SlingPlayer Plugin 3.3.20.505 - Browser...
SlingPlayer is the screen interface software that works hand-in-hand with the hardware inside the Slingbox to make your TV viewing experience just like that at home. It features an array of... Read more
Get Lyrical 3.8 - Auto-magically adds ly...
Get Lyrical auto-magically add lyrics to songs in iTunes. You can choose either a selection of tracks, or the current track. Or turn on "Active Tagging" to get lyrics for songs as you play them.... Read more
Viber 4.2.2 - Send messages and make cal...
Viber lets you send free messages and make free calls to other Viber users, on any device and network, in any country! Viber syncs your contacts, messages and call history with your mobile device,... Read more
Cocktail 7.6 - General maintenance and o...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for OS X that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Rhonna Designs Magic (Photography)
Rhonna Designs Magic 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Photography Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Want to sprinkle *magic* on your photos? With RD Magic, you can add colors, filters, light leaks, bokeh, edges,... | Read more »
This Week at 148Apps: August 25-29, 2014
Shiny Happy App Reviews   | Read more »
Qube Kingdom – Tips, Tricks, Strategies,...
Qube Kingdom is a tower defense game from DeNA. You rally your troops – magicians, archers, knights, barbarians, and others – and fight against an evil menace looking to dominate your kingdom of tiny squares. Planning a war isn’t easy, so here are a... | Read more »
Qube Kingdom Review
Qube Kingdom Review By Nadia Oxford on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: KIND OF A SQUARE KINGDOMUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Qube Kingdom has cute visuals, but it’s a pretty basic tower defense game at heart.   | Read more »
Fire in the Hole Review
Fire in the Hole Review By Rob Thomas on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: WALK THE PLANKUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Seafoam’s Fire in the Hole looks like a bright, 8-bit throwback, but there’s not enough booty to... | Read more »
Alien Creeps TD is Now Available Worldwi...
Alien Creeps TD is Now Available Worldwide Posted by Ellis Spice on August 29th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Dodo Master Review
Dodo Master Review By Jordan Minor on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: NEST EGGiPad Only App - Designed for the iPad Dodo Master is tough but fair, and that’s what makes it a joy to play.   | Read more »
Motorsport Manager Review
Motorsport Manager Review By Lee Hamlet on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: MARVELOUS MANAGEMENTUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Despite its depth and sense of tactical freedom, Motorsport Manager is one of the most... | Read more »
Motorsport Manager – Beginner Tips, Tric...
The world of Motorsport management can be an unforgiving and merciless one, so to help with some of the stress that comes with running a successful race team, here are a few hints and tips to leave your opponents in the dust. | Read more »
CalPal Update Brings the App to 2.0, Add...
CalPal Update Brings the App to 2.0, Adds Lots of New Stuff Posted by Ellis Spice on August 29th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Apple now offering refurbished 21-inch 1.4GHz...
The Apple Store is now offering Apple Certified Refurbished 21″ 1.4GHz iMacs for $929 including free shipping plus Apple’s standard one-year warranty. Their price is $170 off the cost of new models,... Read more
Save $50 on the 2.5GHz Mac mini, on sale for...
B&H Photo has the 2.5GHz Mac mini on sale for $549.99 including free shipping. That’s $50 off MSRP, and B&H will also include a free copy of Parallels Desktop software. NY sales tax only. Read more
Save up to $300 on an iMac with Apple refurbi...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished iMacs available for up to $300 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free. These are the best prices on... Read more
The Rise of Phablets
Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group, a businesses and technology consulting firm focused solely on the financial services industry, has released an infographic depicting the convergence of... Read more
Bad Driver Database App Allows Good Drivers t...
Bad Driver Database 1.4 by Facile Group is a new iOS and Android app that lets users instantly input and see how many times a careless, reckless or just plain stupid driver has been added to the... Read more
Eddy – Cloud Music Player for iPhone/iPad Fre...
Ukraine based CapableBits announces the release of Eddy, its tiny, but smart and powerful cloud music player for iPhone and iPad that allows users to stream or download music directly from cloud... Read more
A&D Medical Launches Its WellnessConnecte...
For consumers and the healthcare providers and loved ones who care for them, A&D Medical, a leader in connected health and biometric measurement devices and services, has launched its... Read more
Anand Lal Shimpi Retires From AnandTech
Anand Lal Shimpi, whose AnandTech Website is famous for its meticulously detailed and thoroughgoing reviews and analysis, is packing it in. Lal Shimpi, who founded the tech site at age 14 in 1997,... Read more
2.5GHz Mac mini, Apple refurbished, in stock...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 2.5GHz Mac minis available for $509, $90 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is included, and shipping is free. Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999,...
B&H Photo has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999.99 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $100 off 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...
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
Senior Event Manager, *Apple* Retail Market...
…This senior level position is responsible for leading and imagining the Apple Retail Team's global event strategy. Delivering an overarching brand story; in-store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.