What does Sun know about how Java is used?

by Ulf on July 24th, 2008 (Permalink)

John O’Conner -a Sun employee until recently- blogged about his Java experiences outside of Sun. He lists three things in particular that were news to him:

  1. Companies don’t always use the latest JDK for their flagship products.
  2. Teams like the Eclipse IDE.
  3. Java isn’t always the preferred rich client.

Frankly, I’m shocked that this is news to anyone, much less to a Sun employee who’s actively using Java.

#1: Companies upgrade software because it supports their business goals, not because it’s new. (Witness the Vista adoption debacle.) There are a lot of companies out there still using Java 1.4, and Java 5 will be the standard bearer for years to come. (As an aside, it’s just been a few months that Apple released Java 6. Yes, that matters to quite a few developers.)

#2: The majority of developers who have a choice in the matter prefer Eclipse or IntelliJ to NetBeans. NetBeans has made great strides in recent years, but unless one needs the new features -a pretty rare case, I’d say- it won’t cause people to convert.

#3: Java is almost never the preferred rich client. I’ll grant that it’s easier to develop applets or Web Start applications than Flash or Flex -just a text editor and the JDK will suffice-, but having to support users over whose desktop one doesn’t have control is way harder with applets than Flash. People also dislike the long startup time of the JVM. (Yes, I know that Java 6 Update 10 will start to change that, but when will we able to assume that people have it installed – in 2011?)

If that’s the view from inside Sun, you just gotta wonder: who makes decisions about Java release plans at Sun, and who decides which APIs get included? Technologists? Marketers? Who from the outside world has input on this?

It sounds like the answer to this last question is: not nearly enough people.

One Response to “What does Sun know about how Java is used?”

  1. Uncontrolled Vocabularies » Blog Archive » The Pushing of NetBeans and the dumbing-down of Java Says:

    [...] al. have -and will continue to have- sizable slices of the market. (I was quite shocked when this came as news to a former Sun employee upon his leaving the company.) Making it hard to pick up pieces of the [...]

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