Rumors of Java’s Death…

…have been greatly exaggerated.  Well, maybe.  Last November Mike Gualtieri of Forrester Research claimed that Java Is A Dead-End For Enterprise App Development.  Is he right?  What about outside the enterprise space?

This theme has been recurring for years.  Consider just a few:

2009Why Does Everyone Think Java Is Dead?, Nathan Crause
 Is Java dead?, Stephen Schmidt
2010Java is Not Dead – Apache is Not Dead, Sebastian Meyen
 Java – It’s not Dead, Folks – It’s Doing Just Fine, Alex Williams

Not Dead Yet: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Java, Stephen O’Grady

 Reports of Java’s Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated, David R. Heffelfinger
 see Usage Chart in Programming Language Adoption, Stephen O’Grady

And from the Way-Way-Back Machine, ZDNET wrote that Java EE ‘not dead yet’ (July, 2006). In this post, Bill Roth (VP BEA at the time) said, "J2EE is like the Mark Twain of enterprise software. Reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated."

So what’s the deal?  Is Java dead?  Well, it depends a lot on the definition of ‘dead.’  If dead means ‘nobody writes code with it anymore,’ then not even COBOL is dead. Some think that Java is “old-school,” “old tech,” etc.  But in comparison to what?  Many businesses still use AS/400, RPG, JCL, etc. productively.  Relative to those, Java is just a new born.

Frankly, I don’t think the problem has anything to do with technology, age, etc.  Java’s real problem is public relations. So many people defensively protest that “Java is NOT dead!”  Why is that necessary?  Isn’t it a lot like the proverbial politician having to answer the reporter who asks, “Do you still beat your wife?”  Immediate defensive position; only some will believe the answer.

So, the problem is that people’s confidence in Java erodes every time this topic arises.  Other contributors include:

  • Sun’s history of on-again, off-again enthusiasm for Java
  • Bickering between Sun and open source community
  • Questions of whether Java a standard or not?
  • How much damage will Java suffer under Oracle’s “closed source” approach?

All of these leave Java in a somewhat precarious position.  CIOs, IT Directors and others are naturally skeptical of a technology surrounded by cacophony of “NO! It’s not dead yet!”

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