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"I wonder when the Java developers will be as happy as the Mickeys"

Posted by pbrittan on September 3, 2003 at 6:03 AM PDT

What do you think about when you write Java?

I recently came across this blog entry, Java vs. .Net developers, in which the blogger, Steve Noel says:

"Mickeys [developers who use Microsoft technology] in general are very happy with the latest new tools thrown at them from Redmond, and very generalized also look slightly happier. Java developers on the other hand have a slightly more weary smile, and especially the open source-addicted ones like to make a lot of fuzz about Sun not doing justice to the great platform that Java is.

Technically, the differences in both software platforms are getting smaller every day. I wonder when the Java developers will be as happy as the Mickeys."

As someone who has used both Microsoft technology and Java extensively, this comment struck some kind of nerve with me. As you may have seen from my blog polemic, Java vs. .NET, I am these days rather overly preoccupied with the relative advantages of the platforms and with the plate tectonics our industry is facing because of the struggle between them.

I was talking about the quote above with a guru-class developer friend of mine whom I respect totally and who has extremely deep experience with Microsoft technologies and Java. His immediate reaction, and explanation, was that when he uses Java, he finds himself thinking mostly about the technology itself. And when he uses Microsoft tools, he finds himself thinking mostly about the problem he is trying to solve. Somehow, he believes, Java distracts the developer with a sense of itself and its character, whereas Microsoft technology seems to blend into the environment, almost disappearing, and thus allowing the developer to concentrate more fully on the task at hand.

If this is true, this is a very powerful statement for Microsoft tools. Microsoft hopes to drive developer adoption of .NET by offering a superlative set of tools to make it extremely easy to create Web Services and user applications. Microsoft also offers a rich set of tools to migrate existing Java code to the .NET framework, a perfect “out” for Java developers who become enchanted with .NET. If Java cannot match this, it has yet another hurdle in its fight with .NET.

I have to give Java its due credit. When I used to code in C++, I had to think about memory management all the time. Now, thanks to Java, I don’t think about it any more. What a relief! Java has taken care of that issue for me, so that I can concentrate on my task at hand. Java needs to do much more of this type of complexity-hiding. I presume that this is the goal of Sun’s Project Rave.

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