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Reader mail box – State of Java in flux

Forrester Research’s Mike Gualtieri has been discussing his take on the state of Java of late, as we noted in the previous edition of our “This Week on” newsletter. Since then we have published a further Q&A with Gualtieri on the topic, in which he asserts that Java is not a productive method of Web or application development and that it limits what developers and the enterprises they work for are capable of achieving.

Business needs more rapid development, Gualtieri contends. “IT needs to build stuff faster. They also need to change existing applications faster,” he said, adding that Java is also lacking in the tool sets to build better user experiences. readers have responded to Gualtieri charges.

N.M., a team leader and one-time AS/400 programmer, recognizes the same gap Gualtieri sees between promises made by technologies like Java for time to market and ease of use versus actual reality.

J.M, from a large aviation equipment company, also agrees with Gualtieri’s assertion that Java is too complex and has reversed many of the gains made in the 1980’s by tools like PowerBuilder. Like the Forrester analyst, he advocates for the use of 4GL and 5GL tools to speed application development.

“Ironic,” writes D.M. at a health service organization, “this was exactly my thought circa 1998!” At that time, he suggests, Java was slow and bloated compared to Visual Basic – but he notes Java’s superior cross platform support, and, like others, asks what new language is out there and available to knock Java down.

Yes, some readers were apprehensive about Gualtieri’s analysis and his predictions. Reader R.P. writes that we will always need to sacrifice flexibility in attempts to make things easier to use and every few years a rumor will come along that something out there will allow business analysts to take over the roles of programmers. “What will keep Java going will be the fact that business operations and demands are becoming more and more complex,” he writes. “Is Java too complex? Try telling that to old time C++, Smalltalk, Assembler or IDMS programmers.”

Finally, reader and site contributor William Brogden commented. “The whole idea that it is the programming language that limits productivity and some magic new language would render most programmers’ jobs obsolete goes way back,” he wrote. The Java ecosystem is large and interconnected, with many excellent tools, Brogden reminds us.

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