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Why Java

Posted 2005 Feb 26

Some recent discussion about Java, .NET and Ruby gave me pause to think about why - even whilst completely enamored with Ruby - I’m fine with being (primarily) a Java developer. I’ll repeat it, because it’s worth repeating: I prefer Ruby or Python (or, heck, even Perl) to Java. I find Java cumbersome and, frankly, generally pretty boring. But, I enjoy being a Java developer. And there’s a reason for that: with Java I can be effective; quickly and comprehensively, effective.

The main reason I find I can be so effective is because there is a lot of quality Java software out there and a lot of it is Open Source. Now, I know that is equally, if not more true for Ruby, Python, PHP, etc. But, in the generally accepted Enterprise Domain, OSS helps set Java apart. I couldn’t imagine developing Enterprise apps without access to the source and community that comes with OSS. Examining, patching, reusing and modifying code from Open Source Java projects is something that I do regularly—this isn’t just for the sake of argument.

If you consider the other big player in Enterprise software development, .NET, I couldn’t imagine developing in that world! It’s Microsoft’s Way or No Way. Last year, Microsoft took a group of developers - myself included - from the company I work for out to lunch. They tried to sell us on giving up Java for .NET. They presented an excellent case. C# is fantastic. Visual Studio is excellent. But it’s all pretty much equivalent to Java/J2EE. It’s a draw, a stalemate… more a matter of preference than anything else. Except for one thing: OSS.

So, why Java? Well, it’s a good mix between Open Source flexibility and Enterprise legitimacy… even if it’s not as cool as Ruby.
irb(main):001:0> ["Java",".NET"].each do |lang|
irb(main):002:1* puts lang > "Ruby" 
irb(main):003:1> end

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