Saturday, June 05, 2010

Java Hatred Is A Disease

When it comes to critising programming languages, Java seems to take the top spot for being the baddest. This is widely seen on the InterTubes, like here, and here.

But does a 'bad' language mean that it'll die a relatively quick death?

To find out, let's take a look at the etymology of an older computer language, C. C has been a systems programming language that has been around the last 40 years. The last revision to the C standard was 10 years ago, and even without moving with the times, the language is still going strong - last I heard, it is still the language of choice for 40% of Open Source developers.

Does that mean that people have stopped complaining about pointers, easy-to-write buffer overflow errors, memory leaks, having to declare all variables up front before code, etc, etc, and other quirks about the language?

I suspect not. So why still C?

Simple - it works. And I suspect the same can be said with Java.

Furthermore, it's silly to argue about Java's merits and drawbacks, because that's really missing the forest for the trees. While the most visible part about Java is the undoubtedly the language, but the true technology of Java is not in the language, but the virtual machine itself. The JVM as it stands today, is a fast, abstract machine that you can plug any languages into, and is able to operate at speeds comparable to natively compiled binaries.

Like most programmers, we do enjoy bitching about peculiarities of a language once in a while, but for people who hate Java with a passion, maybe you need to get your head checked. A language is merely a medium of expression; and a computer language is one specifically used to express program behaviour. Normally, the choices are either to learn it well and avoid the pitfalls, or find a better medium of expression.

So seriously, if you don't like Java, there is a cure. Stop. Using. It.

I'll let you in on a secret to programming languages; there are only two types of languages in this world - languages that people complain about, and languages that nobody uses (Stroustrup said so). So in an obtuse manner, the vast majority of people who criticises about Java are only reaffirming its popularity.

Which is precisely why I can't see Java going the way of dinosaurs. Raving incessantly against it, ironically only helps boost its reputation, albeit in a weird, backhanded-kind of way.


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Unknown said...

That's the spirit!

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