The Year of the Web Application Framework and Java Defections

The Year of the Web Application Framework and Java Defections

The Year of the Web Application Framework and Java Defections

One doesn’t need to be a Java Expert to blogwhine about bloated frameworks and Java induced headaches – Let Bruce Tate say it more eloquently than I ever could ever hope to [1] . I’m a writer and client facing person, I put the spit on heavy technical articles so upper level folks can get their points digested. Sometimes, this type of lively ‘analyst type’ writing helps others. Hey, it’s a living.

And I’ve been out of the coding loop for a while – my old days as a topnotch firmware/AT BIOS/FORTH man are well behind me, but I’m back baby! Thanks to a fortuitous oblique reference I found Ruby, and why, and hey…how can one argue with this stuff, really?

But I’ve ‘out the game’ so long, that I’m even having a hard time asking the right questions, which never was problem for me before, because I have a very good grounding in traditional programming. So when reading all things Rails, and to a lesser extent Ruby, I don’t get it all, and have to dig. Sometimes the formally presented information, such as in Dave Thomas’ excellent, “Agile Web Development with Rails”, leaves me a little….huh?

But this is just rust – it does not cause me undue stress (I lie, I feel I will never catch up).

Round about two years ago, I thought, I should know more about Java. So I purchased Eckle’s, ‘Thinking in Java’, with the CD-ROM. Hmmm…am I just slow or stupid….I must be stupid, it’s not jelling. Maybe a class sitting with live humans.

Now, I know that there is a certain momentum in all things crafty and intellectual; if you stop working in something for say, twenty years, you have to play catch up. But I felt that this Java problem I was having was going deeper. It seemed very painful to do small, satisfying things – the things that entry level folks need to get positive feedback, good vibes, and a willingness to go further. I wasn’t getting it or having fun learning it.

Now, I’m not stupid (really!), I just think differently and more broadly than I did back then. Ruby, Rails, understanding the interplay with the web infrastructure and the separate issues of delivery configuration is just the cost of doing business. And, as a older returnee to the programming fold, I was not up for the Java Fight. Six weeks into the Java class, and still fighting with my home machine’s development classpath, I got up, and without undertaking a soliloquy (something I might have done in high school), I left, thinking, ‘there has to be an easier way’.

I was a commercial FORTH/x86 assembler programmer specializing in Real Time systems back when I was in my 20’s – now I’m a Java failure at 47. Is Ruby going to save me? Probably not, but I’ll have more fun flunking out and telling about it. Furthermore, it’s uncertain whether or not the Ruby Hook would have been planted without Amy Hoy, who correctly identified the “middle documentation problem”; you know, when the geniuses post 15 minute videos of web app creation, and you buy the books, and still don’t’ know the story behind the story? Amy’s articles really helped. Thank you Amy Hoy, looking forward to your new Rails book!! [2]

There has been a tremendous amount of commentary on Java defections to Ruby, Python, and frameworks (obviously Rails, Django). The upshot seems to be that you don’t have to be totally out of practice or slow to appreciate that dynamic languages and web application frameworks are providing a way to achieve that certain something that web application programmers are looking for. For the entrenched world of Java, for those that thrive in it, or for those that must work within a business climate where there is little or no choice, I see the far horizon, and if you read the Bloggosphere as I do with my morning coffee – there is a bright tomorrow rising,

With that sunrise will come even better integration of web application frameworks with their hosting components, making deployment less of a specialist’s game – no disrespect to Swtchtower.


[1] http://www.onjava.com/pub/a/onjava/2005/10/19/challenging-java-dominance.html[2] http://www.slash7.com/articles/2005/10/19/podcast-book

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