Friday, April 18, 2008

RIA: is Java out ?

I've just read Hybridizing Java from Bruce Eckel, the author of Thinking in Java. Bruce was an early adopter of Java and now he opens fire on the language. How could he change his mind so radically ?

Thinking in Java was my primary book to learn Java, 10 years ago.
I still recommend it to my students or colleagues as it is ideal for developers with already a good knowledge of computer languages. And it's online, and free (all but the last edition, though).

Hybridizing Java is puzzling me. Some statements are obviously wrong or inflated (e.g. more and more sites are not compatible with Firefox, Flex is the only plugin that solves nicely the UI question on the browser side and without installation hiccups). Being a Flex evangelist (and Adobe consultant) shouldn't allow to be so rude with what made him so famous before.

Besides that, some thinkings are right. If a language didn't address correctly some issues in ten years, it's normal users are getting less confident and look elsewhere. This is what happens with RIA (Rich Internet Application). Java applets should dominate the domain, but hasn't. Flex takes it over. Even if Flex is not as powerful as Java today, it may become in the future. At least it allows to create attractive RIA. Flex is good enough, and the quantity of sites that use flex is definitely a proof.

"make simple things easy, and difficult things possible" is a fundamental Java design guideline. Flex simply did it better than Java for RIA.

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