Posted by bmclaugh
on September 23, 2004 at 7:05 AM PDT
I still remember back in the days when it was cool to be a Java guy. Then, last night, a friend of mine mentioned that he was "skipping the Java fad", and I got to thinking...
I was into Java before it even hit 1.0. Back then, it was a clumsy language, but cool in all sorts of ways that C++ and assembler weren't. Writing a networked game took a few hours, rather than three weeks of all-night coding. And even though it was slow (man, it was slow), it was new, and cool, and sexy...
Then there were the Java 1.2 days, when somehow a simple HashMap was the greatest thing on the planet. I don't remember why I was so excited about those things--but J2EE and servlets and (ack!) JSPs and all sorts of interesting things were happening. Still very cool to be a Java guy. Books sold like wildfire, and life was grand.
I even remember 1.3. Proxies... it revolutionized the JBoss world, even though they had their own custom implementation. And 1.3 was fast. Exciting times. J2EE was bloated, but interesting, servlets were still cool, and people were starting to realize that scriptlets in pages are not good things. Still, cool to be a Java guy.
1.4... geez, I barely remember it. Boring. And 1.5? Yeah, it's interesting, and cool, and has all sorts of new things. I get all that--heck, I wrote the first Tiger book . But these were language features. Despite my earlier interest in Collections and proxies, where are the amazing things like servlets? Yeah, I know--there are portlets, there are things like Eclipse... I get all that.
But there's just something sort of boring about the Java space right now. Don't get me wrong--it's still my language of choice. It's still what I go for when I need something done, and I still have something like 3 or 4 Java books for every one of my other programming language books. But... it's not sexy anymore. It's like that hot girl in high school you knew, and then ran into the other day at Kroger, and thought... "Wow. What happened? I mean, she's still good-looking, but not like I remember!" Probably a sort of poor analogy, but it's the best one I've got.
So what's the deal? I mean, there is still juice around Java. I think of things like Groovy, which are cool (although I'm not the biggest fan of another scripting language)--but that's not really Java. It's sort of ancillary, right? And portlets look sort of cool... but nothing like servlets. (I'm sure I'm going to get all sorts of comments about how this project or that project is indeed super-cool.)
But, it's just not exciting. I'm written two books this year, and only one about Java. And I'll probably write two or three next year, and I bet only one will about Java. It's just not as cool--just not as fun. Someone, please, for God's sake, bring back Java Joy ;-) Give me the equivalent of a Head First book (and what it did for publishing) in the technology space. I need something mind-blowing...
By the way... I think gaming and JOGL and the like may be the cool kids. But they're still like 6 to 12 months out for mainstream.
Java a fad? Nope. But it sort of feels like it right now. And--really--who wants to be the last kid on the block still playing hula hoop?