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The Art of Computer Programming
A Conversation with James Gosling, Part I
by Bill Venners
First Published in JavaWorld, March 25, 2002

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Bill Venners recently spoke with Sun Microsystems Vice President and Fellow James Gosling at his Sun Labs office in Mountain View, Calif. In this interview, Java's creator imparts his thoughts on enterprise software, algorithms, the trend towards user-oriented software, flexibility, complexity, and other aspects of the art of computer programming.

When James Gosling isn't preaching Java's virtues, he spends his days in a quiet corner office at Sun Labs, dreaming up new ways to help programmers manage complexity. With the Star Trek Borg mask he wore at a prior JavaOne keynote staring down from a shelf, Gosling spoke to JavaWorld's Bill Venners about current programming trends, and his views on the design and construction of software systems.

Enterprise vs. Devices

Bill Venners: If Java exists on so many cell phones and smart cards, why does it seem like almost everyone does server-side software with Java?

James Gosling: I think that's a North American-centric observation. If you go to conferences in North America, people only talk about enterprise software. But I've been to Java events in Europe and in Japan lately, and nobody talks about enterprise software.

Bill Venners: What are they interested in?

James Gosling: It's devices, cell phones, how you build the whole end-to-end thing. It would have been eye-opening for North American journalists to go to the recent JavaOne conference in Japan because it was hard to find enterprise anything. There was embedded stuff, real-time stuff -- some goofy, some just amazing. They've got this thing about computation everywhere.

There's a core where enterprise software goes, but it doesn't make sense unless it's talking to something else, the stuff on the fringes. You need an end-to-end attitude before the pieces make sense.

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