By Kevin Yank

Rediscovering Java

By Kevin Yank

It’s an exciting time to be a Java Web developer. Java 5 (Java 2 Standard Edition 5.0) has just been released, with a pile of new language features to bamboozle complacent developers who had gotten used to knowing the language inside and out. Major Java Web application servers have new releases out that support the latest standards in Java Web development (J2EE 1.4). And all the major development tools are being updated to support the powerful features of these standards, such as JavaServer Faces.

At the same time, Java is getting a bad reputation among everyday Web developers. There’s a growing sense that Java isn’t easy anymore, that you have to work for a company with the budget of a small country for Web development on this platform to make sense. Competing platforms like Microsoft’s .NET are winning loads of cool points for doing things that Java has done for years, while Java is perceived as a stagnant monolith by many.

A lot of this sentiment comes from the fact that Java Web development was invented in layers. First there was this cool, easy-to-learn programming language: Java. Someone wanted to generate Web pages with it on the fly, so Servlets were invented, and they ran on Java. Someone else wanted to build dynamic Web pages without losing the HTML code amongst all the Java code, so JavaServer Pages (JSP) were invented, and they produced Servlets.

Years later, the cutting edge of Java Web development sits on top of at least a half dozen layers of technology, and as a newcomer you can quickly feel lost in the forest of buzzwords! So now we get hobbyists asking how to build a Web-based photo gallery with Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB)–the equivalent of buying a tractor trailer to carry your bread and milk home from the corner store.

With the launch of this Weblog, I’m here to write about Java for the rest of us. In the coming months, I’ll help you sort through that forest of buzzwords, learn what you really need to know, what you can really use, and what you can safely leave to the multinationals.

Most importantly, I’m here to rediscover the joy I used to find in working with Java. I hope I can help you find it too.

  • bobmoff

    I’m looking forward to it.

  • sspivey

    Thanks Kevin. I started learning Java and took some training years ago but my company did not end up using it. I still saw benefits in learning it but it’s been several years now and I’ve lost most of what I learned.

    I’d like to get back into it but don’t know where to begin.

  • w00t… a java blog!

    I love java (sorry stephanie)

  • Finally! I’m just getting back into JSP because of work, so this is great timing! Looking forward to some good articles.

  • i too am looking forward to it! i just bought my first java book and its better than a novel. Coming from a coldfusion background for many years now im ready to start using java to extend my capabilities. ready when you are!

  • NotThatBright

    This is exciting news! Java and J2EE applications have always seemed a bit out of reach to me. As a beginner in Java let me pose some early blog material. =)

    Where do you see Java falling in the area of web design with the release of php5 and a narrowing of the OOP gap between the two?

    What “layer” of Java is best suited for which task?

    And lastly, what tutorials, articles, and free development softwares are out there?

    That should keep you busy! And thanks again for the blog!

  • Version0-00e

    I [I]had[/I] noticed the lack of a Java blog around these parts and only glad now that you’ve started one :)

    Look forward to reading your blog so bring it on :lol:

  • Very glad to see a Java blog, I will sure check this out regularly. I worked on Java about 4 years and really LOVE it, but left my full time Java job due to a severe illness last year. Now I’m working on my own software and websites with VC++ and php, have forgotten many details of Java even I care about all Java-related news, this is the only pity to work alone.

  • orjan

    My java skills are limited, but if java is simple and funny as you say I

  • sspivey

    Allow me to suggest some general subjects to blog:

    In what circumstances is it advisable to use J2EE, JSP or Data Objects and why?

    Obviously there’s a large job market for java developers, especially compared to PHP. Is there any other reason for me to switch to Java if I do not have a $$$ Java IDE?

  • While I am not totally unsatisfied with PHP I have just started to try and learn Java with “Head First Java”

    I will be reading this blog with great interest to get a really good handle on how to use Java in web development.

  • Anonymous

    I would like a beginners article on how to set up a JSP server on say Apache or IIS

  • Great! A Java blog @ SitePoint!

  • Great. I’m really looking forward to your posts about Java :-)

  • If you can convince me that Java DOESN’T stink, you’ve done a good job. :-) Looking forward to finding out why I should use it. lol

    Bring it on!

  • This looks good, make sure to keep the blog updated!

  • Most importantly, I’m here to rediscover the joy I used to find in working with Java. I hope I can help you find it too.

    Count me in!

    I definately ran into the “you have to work for a company with the budget of a small country for Web development on this platform to make sense” problem. After learning Java I found it difficult to transfer my knowledge into practical, cost effective (read cheap) web development.

    I am looking forward to this blog pointing out the error of my ways

  • Stephen Wolff

    Yep – Good stuff. I’m working on a project in Java on my own, and just getting back into JSP. The JSTL and the new Expression Language makes various tasks much easier than before, but I had various nightmares with IDEs and eventually settled on the free Netbeans (after trying Eclipse, IntelliJ, and JBuilder.

  • Sam

    I’ve had the ‘privilege’ of using PHP, Java/J2EE and .NET extensively. The introduction is so spot on, the Java market is extremely hard to pin down, and mis-understanding is rife.

    I’m looking forward to finding out how Java/J2EE has come on in the past 6-9 months, because unless it has changed dramatically, I’m going to be hard to convince to go back…

  • Excellent. I’ve been wanting to start programming Java again for a while now. This blog should make great reading.

  • Daniel O. Oritsejafor

    Can’t wait to see it

  • Benny

    I hope developing application in Java is not cheaper. Also finding good developers in Java is also hard.
    For small to medium web development firms Is it possible to be cost effective and get ahead of the competitiors using Java and related techonlogy for development?

  • Alex

    No need for a $$$$ IDE. The Eclipse Project has a great Java IDE available as a free download. It’s missing some of the full functionality of WebSphere, but it is a great tool with which to start.

    Looking forward to the discussion.

  • ben332211

    Cool, Would love some sort of explanation of what all the different layers and acronyms and big words actually mean, to Joe Programmer ;)

  • RRoYY

    I am new to java too.. and having great fun with EJB right now! waiting to see ur articles.

  • hdsol

    Without a major programing background it is nice that the rest of have not been forgoten about

  • ggg

    >Is there any other reason for me to switch to >Java if I do not have a $$$ Java IDE?

    Try Eclipse…

  • Justin

    I’ve been using JSP for years and more recently started using php for smaller projects.

    I must say Java for web development is hands down the best platform. Although PHP certainly has it’s place…

  • I’d like to see articles on writing JavaServer Faces (JSF) and JSF Components.

    Looking forward to your entries, Kevin!


  • I learned Java in 2000 working for a _large_ company. They relocated the IT department to another state so I took a layoff. Since then I’ve been working with PHP as a subcontractor. 2 months ago a company contacted me about doing work with them in JAVA. I decided to take the gig but was very worried about how rusty I’d be with Java. Well, I ended up being very rusty but it is slowly coming back to me. The most frustrating thing thus far is having become familiar with so many of the neat built-in features/functions of PHP and wishing Java had something like them. Still, I’m having fun again with Java myself so I’ll be watching this blog closely.

  • Another Feed to add to my SharpReader. *grumbles* ;)

    But I’m happy!! Its another great reason to be at SitePoint. Another great blog by a cool-dude!! :D

  • Tom

    You are quite right with that Java can be complex. As you point out, all these technologies have a reason for existing, but at some point you can’t see the forest through the trees anymore. This is something that is recognized by many people and simplification in THE theme in Java lately. EJB3.0 is buzzing with it and Swing is supposed to get a work over also.

    I found that simplification is something many developers have been doing for years, for example the “SwingEventDispatcher” which allows to just write a “download_click()” method (download being the button’s name) instead of an obscure anonymous inner class. And ofcourse DD2, a webframe work where you don’t need to code a page, pageBean and actionHandler just for one page.

    So if I may suggest, maybe you could theme your blog “how to make Java simpler”, because “howto” are enough around.

  • Ken

    I am looking forward to the java blog. I am especially curious about java versus .Net. Do you think .Net will make java technology a nevermind?

  • Daniel

    Great! Don’t forget Springframework when you get into the simplicty discussion. I’d especially recommend SpringMVC over Struts when you cover MVC–it’s much more coherent. I started with Struts and switched to Spring (as lightweight container) with SpringMVC and have never looked back.

  • tong

    Great….this is just the time as I am currently working on JSP and servlet. Thanks dude

  • Sravan

    I am an SAP Consultant and with SAP new “NetWeaver” platform released which has the flexibility to code in Java, which is all together a new topic for me(and for certain other Consulatnts), would be glad to go thru ur upcomming articles and learn from it.
    Thanks Kevin,
    – Sravan

  • Walt

    This is great. My company will be delivering a product using JSP. I’ve installed Tomcat on my PC and started looking into learning JAVA. Wow! There is a lot out there and now I have a place to start. I’m certain this is going to be great judging on your PHP expertise and what I’ve learned from SitePoint!

  • Jim Harris

    Sounds good to me too. I hope you allow discussion of “closely related” things like Jython, JPython, jRuby, and NetRexx, and Groovy, especially the FREE implementations available to “the rest of us” who want to learn with investment of our time, not our dollars.

  • eyvind

    I have read a book on JSP, but it was’n very clear. I will, like everyone else it seems, look forward to your posts.

    Thanks a lot.

  • jen

    This is so cool!! I’ll wait for it!

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