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James Gosling on Java, May 1999
A Converstion with Java's Creator, James Gosling
by Bill Venners
First Published in JavaWorld, June 1999

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Picking and Choosing APIs

Bill Venners: People who do embedded devices always seem to have this pressure to make things fit, which gives them the need to pick and choose which APIs they'll support. Is there some way of dealing with this pressure, such as somehow getting them to all have the same set of APIs?

James Gosling: Trying to get them to have the same APIs is why we came up with these API subsets. Some of that has worked, some of it hasn't. Much of what we've been trying to do lately has been to make it so these folks can do dynamic loading of pieces of the APIs that they don't support.

A certain amount of it has been trying to get people in the different industrial segments to get together and agree on what the common things are. But what should the standard APIs be that are available in a toaster? Or in some robot arm controller? They're very different.

Bill Venners: So what about the subsets, like Embedded Java and Personal Java? What's the status of those things then? It sounds like you've recognized that maybe you need to go into each little niche and help those people get together and figure out what APIs they need.

James Gosling: We figured that it was pretty much hopeless for us -- both hopeless and sort of arrogantly presumptuous -- to go into the different industrial segments and tell them what we think the API should be. For example, this is what we think the API should be for the GPS navigation system; this is what the API should be for telescope control; and so on. Those aren't things that we have any expertise in.

[What] we really have an interest in is making sure that the participants in those industries get together and figure it out. One of the things we try to do is facilitate matters where we can. So we might have a person or two who's involved in these efforts, but we certainly don't try to control them or drive them or run them.

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