The Java Up-tick
I just got off stage at JavaOne Japan, where I was talking about Open Source - the philosophy, the community, the reality. After the talk I was asked how important the union of open source and Java could be. I referred to Tim O'Reilly's Radar presentation at OSCON where he talked about the up-tick in Java books that happened at the end of 2005. He said:
A lot of this growth spurt occurred shortly after JavaOne and the new Tiger release, which happened around that time. All of the top titles were revised, and saw a healthy sales increase as a result. However, when we analyzed new books (versus revisions), it appears that a substantial portion of Java's sustained growth, outside of the classic titles, has come from books on Open Source Java projects, such as Spring, Struts, Lucene, and AspectJ, which collectively performed at nearly double the unit and revenue volumes of new books on their non-Open Source counterparts.
For me, this discovery is very significant. There are plenty of people around talking about "what's next after Java" (there's even an interesting O'Reilly book about it), but it seems to me that the growing trend is not the search for new languages but rather the creation of collaborative communities around the technologies people need to evolve software development. I have said before that programmers don't program using languages, they program by connecting libraries with languages. The delightful growth of Java-based open source communities seems to underline that. I'm not saying we don't need new languages (I wouldn't have advocated the Coyote project if I thought that) but rather that languages aren't the only or even main key to programmer productivity.