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What Is So Hot About Java?

A Brief Introduction To E-Commerce Table of Contents License Management: How Developers Control Software Licensing
By Ira Smith

Editor's Note: This customer perspective on Java appeared on our BBx® e-mail list, a BASIS-sponsored public forum for discussion of BBx issues. It followed some heated questioning as to why anyone would choose to develop in Java, which began to stream in shortly after we announced our BBj™ strategy on the list. Ira Smith's comments are purely his own and were intended to educate, not to sell or endorse BASIS products. But he outlined so many of the benefits of Java so eloquently, we decided to reprint his comments for those readers who may not subscribe to the list. What follows is Ira's message, edited for punctuation, grammar and format considerations. Editor's insertions and deletions are indicated with brackets.

Subject: Re: Why Java?

Well, I'll try to shed some light on what I have been researching and studying.

BASIS is not the first compiler/interpreter company to do this move to
Java. know of one company that has written a compiler/interpreter
that lets a programmer write in Visual Basic, and it takes your Visual
Basic code and compiles it to both Java source [code] and Java
bytecode. I'm sure there are other compiler companies that have done
the same thing or are thinking about it. I'd say one more name
specifically but can't spill the details of that just yet. But I know
it's been done for a fact. While I don't know the specifics of what
BASIS intends, I'd imagine that it would have something where you
write standard BBx code and the new interpreter/compiler would convert
that code to Java source [code] that would then be compiled to Java

Why would someone want to do this? Well, here is what I've found thus far.

 1. Java allows you to do Windows programming for any operating system
    that a Java Virtual Machine (interpreter) is available. Yes, you
    can do Windows applications for all flavors of UNIX, including
    Linux, Novell, Microsoft Windows, and even the AS400.

 2. Going with applications written in Java aids in getting away from
    the quite troublesome DLL conflicts you find in the Windows world.

 3. Java is growing in popularity and more programmers are converting
    to it. So in the future, it will be harder to find programmers who
    specialize exclusively in a language like BBx. One of the issues I
    hear a lot is that there are not many books on the BBx language,
    and the ones that are out there are considerably costly. Take a
    look at sometime when doing a search on Java; tons
    of books and reference material.

 4. For developers who want true cross-platform ability, Java does
    this for you. You write it once and run it on any operating system
    that you wish. If you are a software developer, this is important
    because the market for your software is now wide open, not
    limiting you to a segment of your market.

 5. If I am understanding what I am studying of Java, you can have one
    code base serve both as standalone applications and as "applets"
    that can be run inside of Web pages.

 6. All operating system vendors I'm aware of are including a Java
    Virtual Machine with their operating system now. So new operating
    systems are Java-ready right out of the box.

 7. Java is gearing to make headway in the smaller devices market such
    as hand-helds, laptops, palm devices and other embedded
    devices. Further, it has an optional new networking technology
    that is supposed to make networking easier. I've not dealt with
    this part, so I can't speak from personal experience.

 8. The importance in the shift of the computing market to smaller
    devices should not be taken lightly. Heavyweights such as IBM are
    publicly announcing that the PC is dead. There is a growing wave
    in the market to shift to "thin client computing," which means
    having either a scaled-down PC on the desktop or a network-type
    computer that is really a graphics terminal with a keyboard and
    mouse. Java is set to handle thin client computing by allowing the
    programmer to develop full-scale, reliable, fast, server-sided
    applications that the client interacts with by nothing more than a
    Web browser.

 9. The Internet is becoming a larger factor in corporate
    America. Java was written with the intent of being run on the
    Internet. That is where it started and then grew into the language
    that it is today.

10. Companies are growing tired of the high maintenance, high support,
    and high overhead of the typical "fat client" PC where users
    install applications that conflict with and break applications
    they should be using for work. If they are given a machine with
    scaled-down abilities or a machine that is merely a Web client,
    then these issues go away. The move to thin client computing also
    lowers the companies' investment in hardware/support costs per
    employee to provide them with computing power.

11. Companies are setting up their own intranets rather than the
    typical client/server environment. These intranets are being
    extended to set up extranets, small internets that are used inside
    the company along with customers of the company who have been
    granted access privileges to the internal network. The backbone of
    these networks is becoming the Java language.

12. Large companies, such as NationsBank, who through merger and
    acquisition have inherited all kinds of hardware, are using Java
    to develop and distribute their applications so that the issue of
    what hardware and operating system is not the critical factor

13. Other developer companies, such as Oracle, are developing database
    technology with Java that uses only a small portion of the
    standard operating system. So companies such as BASIS can't always
    rely on a full-fledged version of the operating system being there
    to run its interpreter. In this particular case, a small portion
    of the Sun UNIX kernel is supposed to be used. Other database
    vendors are creating SQL databases written entirely in Java.

These are just some of the things I have found out about the language as
I have researched and studied it. I must say that when reading the
details of the trial currently going on between Sun and Microsoft, you
get the feeling you are on the right track by going with Java. After
all, Microsoft appears to be plenty scared of it. [The author's personal
opinion about Microsoft was deleted.-Ed.] The other thing to think about
is, if you are someone who likes the Windows look and feel but does not
like Microsoft or the problems with its products, here is your chance to
create Windows applications and not use a single Microsoft product in
the process.

I'm just listing the things that I see as a plus for going with Java
and that might be some of the same things that BASIS saw when it looked
at it.

A Brief Introduction To E-Commerce Table of Contents License Management: How Developers Control Software Licensing

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