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Day at the Dog Races

Posted by editor on December 21, 2005 at 6:59 AM PST

Handicapping Java's rivals

The Book Club discussion of Beyond Java has reached the final chapter, which attempts to answer the question "if there's something next, after Java's period of dominance, what is it?". Here's how author Bruce Tate sets up the discussion in the book:

If nothing else, this book is about changing perceptions. Sure, the Java libraries have legs -- libraries and community. But the community can be dysfunctional at times, and the culture is leading to increasingly complex libraries. The JCP seems to be getting in the way, valuing politics and committees more than good libraries hardened in the crucible of experience. There's something to be said for a fresh start on a stronger foundation.

So, don't let Java's built-in advantages always lead you to sell the alternatives short. They've come a long way. In this chapter, I'll touch on the major contenders and some also-rans.

Given the way Tate has framed his arguments -- and the fact that he gave it two chapters -- you won't be surprised to know that Ruby is in the running. More surprising is the appearance of .NET, which throughout the book is dismissed as little more than a Java wannabe. Its advantage, and disadvantage, is Microsoft: lots of marketing and engineering support, but a proprietary mindset and lots of Java developers who just won't touch anything MS. Rounding out the main challengers are Python and the seemingly-fading Groovy. Tate's also-rans include PHP, Perl, Lisp, and Smalltalk.

If you're interested in reading more, Beyond Java is available as part of the Safari Online Bookshelf, which has a 14-day free trial. Indeed, if you came to this conversation late, you may well be asking "Why are we talking about other languages? Why not just fix Java?" Tate is pessimistic about the prospects for this (see Chapter 4), but I'm not inclined to agree. For example, check out the Trails project for an example of convention over configuration in Java.

This is the last chapter of the book. If there's a book you'd like to host a book club discussion of, please mention it in the comments and we'll contact you about possibly making it our next title.

Also in today's Forums, pelegri offers a little app server history in

Re: JBoss vs. GlassFish (Why Glassfish?):
"There are two different ongoing release trains. The 'old' releases are based on the J2EE 1.4 standard and are available as the SJS AS 8.x (free) products. The 'new' releases are based on the forthcoming Java EE 5 standard and are the ones that currently are only available as early access at Both release trains are based on the same code base, but, strictly speaking, the repository at Java.Net is that of the Java EE 5 release."

In Also in
Java Today
Artima's Bruce Eckel blogs on The departure of the hyper-enthusiasts: "The Java hyper-enthusiasts have left the building, leaving a significant contingent of Java programmers behind, blinking in the bright lights without the constant drumbeat of boosterism.
But the majority of programmers, who have been relatively quiet all this time, always knew that Java is a combination of strengths and weaknesses. These folks are not left with any feelings of surprise, but instead they welcome the silence, because it's easier to think and work."

In the Linux DevCenter interview Through Project Looking Glass with Hideya Kawahara, John Littler talks to Project Looking Glass founder Hideya Kawahara about the proof-of-concept 3D desktop that has turned into a popular open source project for exploring concepts of 3D user interfaces. He also discusses the lessons of VRML, the possibility of a "mod" community for Looking Glass, and tours the attractive demo apps that ship with the project.

In Projects and
the SimpleDBM project is a new relational database written in Java. The project uses a modular structure that encourages use of components for research and experimentation, and its basis in published research makes it easier for newcomers to understand the code.

A recent graduate from the JavaTools Community incubator, the a-jar-stdio-terminal project allows you to take any application jar and attach a Swing "green screen" window to provide access to System.out log message and console input.

John Reynolds has some Big dreams on the longest night of the year... in today's Weblogs.
"December 21st is the winter solstice, the longest night of the year in the northern hemisphere. What better time to dream sweet visions for the future?"

Sahoo says
Don't use @PersistenceContext in a web app...:
"It's a common mistake to inject an EntityManager into a web application that uses Java Persistence API. Let's discuss why."

In the announcement blog
JAX-WS development issues discussed on dev mailing list, Doug Kohlert writes: "In an effort to be more open about the development of JAX-WS, discussions about changes to JAX-WS are now happening on"

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Handicapping Java's rivals