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Dead Technology Everywhere I Go

Posted by mkarg on April 24, 2011 at 4:14 AM PDT

Sometimes I wonder why rather good technology suddenly dies. Does anybody remember InfoBus? JavaBeans? Swing? Java?

All of those had been brilliant technologies, enabling programmers doing things really easily. But at one day, news about those technologies just stopped. People tend to say that those technologies "died". Well, what does that mean, and is that true?

Let's start with InfoBus. It made it pretty simple to forward messages within a software system (within a VM or across a network) and the trick was that sender and receiver didn't know each other. So ther was just some "bus" and every component could send messages to the bus or react to messages found on the bus. Very useful, especially when dealing with plug-in extendable systems. But then, somebody decided that JMS and OSGi are hip and InfoBus is dead. Actually I didn't find a good reason for that, since JMS is just an API for drivers wrapping existing MOM products, while InfoBus was working on a much higher (and simpler to use) level. And OSGi is way too complex compared to InfoBus. So who decided that it is "dead"? I would love to use it today, but beside outdated web sites there seems to be no support anymore. JavaBeans, same game. Also Swing. Very useful technology, just some day told to be "dead" by someone apparently having the power to do so. In fact, we just produced a new product (QUIPSY Control Plan, see http://www.quipsy.de/en/caq-software/products/advanced-quality-planning/...) built on Java 6 and both, JavaBeans (especially property change listeners) and Swing (especially supported by jGoodies), had been exptremely useful and made my day. I understand that OSGi might be a superior technology than JavaBeans, but it is far more complex (and I don't needed the features). Also I understand that Sun had the (possibly not so brilliant) idea to provide JavaFX as a competitor to Flash and Silverlight. But this shouldn't be an excuse the cut investments into Swing, as actually the mass of software still is fat client based, SWT is not a standard, so Swing still is used heavily. For years lots of efferts had been spend into a new product line, which now officially is cancelled. Did Sun really not see that HTML 5 + JavaScript 5 + CSS 3 will be the dead of that complete type of Software? Both, Adobe and Microsoft also committed to a strong support of HTML 5 instead of further putting efforts into proprietary stuff. While Adobe and Microsoft both not just built a platform but also invested in a successful toolset, Sun was so busy with the platform itself that they forgot about the toolset (the same happened before with the Java IDE, that's whay everybody is using Eclipse and only a minority prefers NetBeas, which just came out years too late). But while Adobe and Microsoft now can just add HTML 5 output drivers to their existing toolset and drop their runtime without any real harm, Oracle had to cancel JavaFX completely since they just do not have any widely used tools - and the future rich client platform itself will be HTML 5, no doubt about that. But that is no excuse to cut Swing development until HTML 5 is finally there. And, that is no excuse to cut Swing at all, as even with HTML 5 for many years, possibly decades, there will be a huge mass of existing and still maintained and further developed Swing based applications.

So I hope that Oracle will do better in future and understand what treasure they actually obtained from Sun. I expect Swing to be not replaced by but just to be safely extended with technology obtained from the JavaFX line. And I expect Oracle to provide better tools to support people in using their technology. If Java doesn't learn where to fit into the future's technology stack made up by HTML and JavaScript, there possibly will soon be another "dead" technology: The one with the cup and duke and it's gravestone. And the reason will not be that the technology was "bad" or "not useful". The reason will solely be ignorance about what's going on outside. Needing several years to incorporate the core benefits provided by languages like Scala and Closure unfortunately is not looking very promising. Hope that they get the curve soon.

An overview of all my publications can be found on my web site Head Crashing Informatics (http://www.headcrashing.eu).

Comments

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<p>Yes, the oracle provided will really do better in future. ...

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<p>Yes, the oracle provided will really do better in future. ...

Yes, the oracle provided will really do better in future. Recently, I was in contact with a training provider. This may have inter-connection with the services they provide. <a href="http://computercollisioninvestigations.com/"pocket zone</a>

<p>I agree, Markus. My main customer is a large ...

I agree, Markus. My main customer is a large multinational and we're heavily relying on Swing, JavaBeans, BeansBinding and we're introducing some components from the NetBeans Platform. HTML5 for sure could have the big advantage of being deployed anywhere, including Android or iPhone, but I don't see it handling complex UI interactions such as a heavy industrial client.

It's true that Oracle should invest more in Swing and the JavaFX thing has been a big Sun fiasco. It's still to be seen how the JavaFX retargeting will behave. In the meantime, let's not forget that the NetBeans Platform *is* a Swing extension, is being actively developed and financed by Oracle, and you don't need to use it as the whole framework. For instance, my cited customer has started using the Lookup API and the Nodes API (plus a few dependencies) since it has complex trees of objects and the cited APIs of the NetBeans Platform provide a neat and easy set of features for properly manage threads, wait nodes, contextual actions, and such - all the things that Swing alone misses.

A point that Sun neglected, and Oracle continues to neglect, is financing SwingX. While I understand that we'll receive many new components with JavaFX 2.0, there is stuff in SwingX that people heavily rely on. SwingX is being actively developed by its community, so it can live on its own, but it would benefit from some push.

<p>&nbsp;That is the beauty of open source. If you want to ...

That is the beauty of open source. If you want to make use of a "dead" library, just manage the source yourself. Or fork it anew on github and generate new interest.
Richard

<p>&gt;the future rich client platform itself will be HTML ...

>the future rich client platform itself will be HTML 5, no doubt about that
Have to disagree with you there. HTML certainly isn't going away any time soon, but I'd suggest that "the future rich client platform" is very likely to also include mobile/tablet platforms such Android, iOS, and yes, Windows Phone 7. Most of the apps written for these devices are not HTML-based. They use platform-specific tools and APIs that in general make it easier to build modern applications.
I have no doubt that HTML will continue to thrive as a tool for delivering content, but I suspect that over time it will be supplanted by these newer platforms.
Greg

I have to agree with Greg, Markus.<br><br> HTML/CSS is ...

I have to agree with Greg, Markus.

HTML/CSS is designed for layout and content formatting. It has for the most part even left the domain of programmers, and is now handled by the "graphic arts" department. HTML5 is an attempt to turn a magazine into an interactive application... this is very much akin to trying to drive a nail with a screwdriver: there are even multiple ways to do it, all painful.

John

PS I suspect the formatting of these posts are going to provide an excellent example of how painful it is ;)

Let's continue this discussion in five years (remember, I ...

Let's continue this discussion in five years (remember, I was talking about *the future*), when HTML 5 + CSS 3 + Java Script 5 is widely supported by all brosers and mobile devices and background compilation, execution in the GPU etc. became "normal" and then let's look back whether you have been right or me. Until then, just take into account where millions of $ are spent by most companies: Into Swing or into HTML? Don't get me wrong, I love Java and Swing. But looking at the facts, virtually no investments had been done into Swing for five years, JavaFX was cancelled few months ago, but HTML 5 (especially support for offline applications) is getting broad support by Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, ...

<p>Forget Swing. The real question is: In 2016, will HTML 5 ...

Forget Swing. The real question is: In 2016, will HTML 5 be on par with iOS 6, Android 6, Windows 9, Gnome 5 or something completely new?

<p>Let's face it: HTML is flawed beyond repair, but it is ...

Let's face it: HTML is flawed beyond repair, but it is "too big to fail".
GWT and the <canvas> is the only hope for us poor Java guys to escape from the markup madness and the neverending POST-Redirect-GET-cycle.

<p>Your blog is very informative.I am very happy with your ...

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