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Joined: 2003-06-09

In this Book Club forum, we'll be discussing the controversial new book Beyond Java by Bruce Tate.

Are Java's best days coming to an end? Has it left too many developers behind with its focus on high-end enterprise computing? And if not Java, then what are we supposed to use? These are the kinds of questions to kick around as we discuss the book, and we hope you'll bring your own insights and ideas to the discussion.

If you want to "try before you buy", you can check out the online version of Beyond Java as part of the Safari Bookshelf -- -- a collection of online books available to members, which offers a 14-day free trial.

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Joined: 2006-03-07

Surley one of the reasons Java is not used for the rich clients as you discuss, is partly to do with bandwidth?

In Ireland less than 1/2 the population have broadband, ie 56 kb lines at best, on top of this its common for us to have less than 1mb broadband up to recently.

What AJAX is tackling i thought was people cant connect fast enough for smooth web pages, so just give them the bits they need, this in analogous to repainting only half you screen, as clever as that may be it only complicates things.

In some parts of Poland i have now heard of 100mb internet providers. Surely in time as the world moves on and passing the data becomes less of an issue rich clients will emerge?

Look back in time to when memory was expensive, applications where poor partly because complete caching was not avaiable. I now have a Cache on my PC that is larger than my first harddisk by a long shot, applications have become "sexier" largly because of this. I think the same will apply to web apps as bandwidth will grow (hopefully as fast a the size of harddrives)

Web applications by their nature serve the great unwashed, not the 100mb Poles, but majorities than have awfull acess, you want to reach out to the masses. In time i hope that the majority, the great unwashed get better bandwidth

Alas on a final not Java will die eventually, i will not explain now as my right arm is in a cast and i am pecking this out.

Joined: 2004-01-23

Setting aside the small issue of how accessible Java now is to beginners, the main thrust of the anti-Java pro-Ruby/PHP/whatever argument seems to settle around the assertion that Java is a weaker platform for writing web based applications. Even taking that as truth, the argument is still flawed by an underlying assumption: namely that web applications are the future.

Elsewhere on this site I've noticed the green shoots of a parallel discussion - one that questions the domination of the web browser as the primary means of delivering on-line applications.

Are Java's days numbered - a decade from now will we still read our Gmail via clunky XHTML documents? Or are Ruby/PHP's days numbered - will we read our mail via a sophisticated 'rich UI' Java Web Start application?

Joined: 2003-06-09

You're right that this is the focus. In fact the book is very explicit in saying that hooking a web interface up to a database is job #1 of Java, and that's primarily what he concerns himself with throughout the book.

Yes, Java can do rich UI's, but that use is a tiny, tiny niche of what is being done with Java today, and "Beyond Java" spends little time on it, except to note that it was the original focus of Java (quick and dirty GUI's, applets, etc.) before Java moved to a server-side focus.

Maybe the future is in a richer thick-client GUI - I'd personally like to think so, but I see little evidence of it happening right now.

Joined: 2004-01-23

> Yes, Java can do rich UI's, but that use is a tiny,
> tiny niche of what is being done with Java today,

That is because of market forces outside of Java. Java is used for web applications [b]not[/b] because web apps are its natural home, rather it just happened to be at the front of everyone's mind when there was a sudden crazy for web apps.

Java != web apps (just as the internet != the web).

> Maybe the future is in a richer thick-client GUI -
> I'd personally like to think so, but I see little
> evidence of it happening right now.

To play Devil's Advocate and bang the drum for Java a bit here ...

If the internet never evolves beyond the web browser then it would be a very sad day for mankind. All that potential, and all we came up with was a load of suped-up-hypertext. AJAX is not going to deliver us a workable robust 'Office' application - end of story. Why spend time and effort evolving it into something which already exists [b]today[/b] in Java?

There's a very real possibility that Java was born well before its time - the environment in which it will truly thrive has yet to arrive. Web apps do little to flatter Java, using practically none of its 'unique' potential. Ruby and PHP may be the platform of the 'here and now', but only because the 'here and now' has taken a detour down a blind alley called 'web applications'. So ironically Java may well be a platform of the past... and the future.