Rediscovering Java

    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.

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