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Bill Venners on the Future of Java

16 replies on 2 pages. Most recent reply: Mar 5, 2007 8:24 AM by Paul Gresham

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Paul Beckford

Posts: 51
Nickname: phaedrus
Registered: Feb, 2007

Re: Bill Venners on the Future of Java Posted: Mar 2, 2007 7:52 AM
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> I haven't got any deep thoughts on this. But I sometimes
> wonder if a goal of language design should explicitly be
> to allow for the language to evolve - for new features to
> be added while old clients can still use the old version
> alongside the new version.
> But, as I say, I don't know how this would be done in
> practice.

What you need is a language that knows itself. A language that is fully reflective and where you can use the language to modify and extend itself (and I don't mean libraries). Its been done before, and people commonly refer to it as meta-programming. Take a look at Smalltalk or Better Still Self.


Paul Gresham

Posts: 2
Nickname: gresh
Registered: Mar, 2006

Re: Bill Venners on the Future of Java Posted: Mar 5, 2007 8:24 AM
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Actually I have to say that Java is refreshing in this respect ... Does any other language, at an enterprise level, offer all of it's old releases in such as nicely packaged and bundled manner ... Today I can dive in and write some java 1.3 code that still utilizes doclet annotations and a load of rapid dev tools that I have and I never ever have to worry that I'll not be able to compile it in the future! I may still get patches and bug fixes! It's one of Java's strengths, that I don't a nasty vendor forcing me to upgrade all the time [Arragh!], sorry I had flashbacks to the time before J2EE when I was constantly chasing VMS O/S upgrades, RDBMS upgrades, 3GL changes, 4GL changes and all without test driven development, whilst paying fortunes out of my budgets for essentially nothing. It's ok, I'm calm now.

Seriously though, Java 1.1 is pretty much a standard, 1.3 is yet another and 1.5 was the last major one. With all the branching and trunking and merging we have at our disposal, plus the ability to back port, forward port and also plug in libraries, surely we can keep java 1.1 alive. The main point is that some corporation is not forcing me to upgrade, I upgrade when I want to. Quite frankly I wanted generics badly and spent a lot of effort getting existing code up to 1.5. Backwards compatibility was simply not on my list. I wanted the features. Surely this is the right way and backwards compatibility is a marketing term from the past when what it really meant was, we've done as much as we legally have too, now upgrade, pay more or lose support.

Dramatic syntax changes might give me the willies though, but no perhaps not, a quick migration tool, re-run the tests, iron out the wrinkles ... what hell I don't even care if syntax is changed!

Lets face it Linux, GNU tools, Tomcat, Apache httpd, OpenSSL, J2EE, etc, etc all have their historical 'defacto' versions, many of which are still actively maintained, in some cases the older versions are more active than the recent ones! This is freedom from commercial handcuffs and nasty licensing schemes.

Honestly, I went through a major Delphi upgrade recently (less than a year ago) and no amount of whisky can get rid of the nasty taste left in my mouth. Borland have to pull a miracle to get me buy into their offerings again. Total proprietary annoyance and so 1980's! Borland, you gave me misery ... get stuffed!

Ooh maybe I'm less emotionally stable than I thought ... Anyway long live java 1.1, 1.3 and 1.5. I can't wait for the next biggie and quite frankly not fussed about backwards compatibility. It's just not necessary anymore, it exists naturally, if you just leave me with a working environment for the versions of software that my original code was written in.

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