Posted by jbob
on October 6, 2004 at 9:37 AM PDT
Mac users should hold Apple more accountable for timely support of Java on OS X.
In Chris Adams' recent blog entry titled "Why Mac Developers are Concerned About the J2SE 5.0 Wait" the case is made that Mac OS X is at risk as a viable development platform for Java because of the historical delays in up to date Java support within the operating system.
I think there is some truth to this because there is a track record of the Mac not being on par with Windows and Linux in terms of priority. I don't think this is unique with Java. I also see this with many multi-platform software applications and also in Open Source. Whether it's Yahoo Messenger or Open Office, Mac appears to be an after thought. I like and use OS X and find this particularly frustrating as well. The interesting point about Open Source is that it appears that the Apple PowerBook is the preferred laptop with Open Source developers. At OSCON, O'Reilly's Open Source Conference, Apple's PowerBook is the overwhelming majority of laptop present at the event. It makes you wonder why OS X doesn't get a higher priority.
Regarding Java support, I think the question that is not being asked is "Where is Apple?"
OS X is Apple's operating system. It's Apple's customers that stand to lose if OS X is not current with it's Java support. It's Apple's OS that is at risk as a viable Java development platform if J2SE 5.0 is delayed on OS X. It's Apple that is trying to make inroads into corporations with their new line of servers. They are not going to make it in that market without either current Java or .NET support.
Apple "appears" to support Java. It ships OS X with Java installed and supported in their development tools. It also provides some cools API to take advantage of OS X features within Java. But how committed are they to Java is they aren't making J2SE 5.0 support on Mac OS X a priority? Are they active contributors to the Mac Community on java.net? Is Apple as committed to Java as the Java developers that use their platform?
Is Apple committed to Java developers?
Finally, there is another unspoken opinion that gets subliminally suggested in these type of conversations. Instead of directly asking what Apple is doing to remedy this, there are hints that Sun should do more. Comments like "Legend has it Sun had only one person doing the Mac port" listed as an excuse in Chris' table takes our eye off of the ball. It's understandable to expect Sun to take the lead on ports with version 1.0, however, where are the questions regarding the number of Apple people dedicated to future versions?
It's almost like there is this unrealistic expectation that Sun should pick up the slack for everyone else platforms. Just because Sun came to the rescue to the disenfranchised Windows platform when Microsoft abandoned Java, doesn't mean their lack of focus on OS X is an omission. That's Apple's responsibility. You can't ask Sun to give up control of Java with one breath and then hold them accountable for Java's adoption and success with the next breath.
If you're not satisfied with the pace that OS X keeps up with Java, just remember to hold Apple accountable.