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Elitism?

Posted by webmink on June 11, 2003 at 9:56 AM PDT

Alan Williamson wasn't too impressed with Jonathan Schwartz's keynote yesterday, it seems (complete with IDE demos - I hope he's enjoying the Project Rave demo I am watching now!). I'm very interested in his comments on the desire to expand the Java developer base from 3 million to 10 million. He says:

The threshold that we call someone a developer, is going to be dropped significantly ... Sun have historically treated the developer with respect. Giving them the attention and kudos they solely craved. Java developers are real developers; they don't want to be labelled with the Microsoft VB/Marco crowd. Sun will have to be very careful in how they are going to take this forward without alienating and devaluing the current developer base.

Similarly, William Grosso is worried:

The distinction that I'm starting to see is that there no longer seems to be much of a role for a general purpose programmer. The primary skill required of a Java programmer these days seems to be significant expertise in some set of related specifications.

My personal view is that the way to expand the developer community is not to 'drop the threshold' but rather to expand the range of languages that target the Java platform. That's why the discussion in this morning's keynote concerning the embrace of programming languages like PHP and Jython (Sean will be pleased!) is so important. PHP and Jython programming isn't dumbed-down - it's just the use of the tools that are fit for the job, and embracing a wider range of tools simply expands the scope rather than lowers the bar.

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