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It Is A Victory But Does It Really Matter

People have been celebrating the release of Java under the GPL which is understandable since Sun seemed really resistant to the idea for a really long time. The question that has finally bubbled up through my subconscious is whether this really matters to most Java developers or people who've avoided the language before for whatever reason. Java isn't the sexy new resume fodder that it once was. As someone who routinely trawls IT job listings I've seen the number of positions that have Java in the title remain pretty steady for the last year or so without any real increase or decrease on par with the patterns I've seen with .NET developer listings. It seems 'stable' which you can extrapolate to mean either 'stagnant' or, uh, 'stable' dependent on which way your antennae is bent. Mine points away from Java because although I've tinkered with it when required I've never really been terribly interested. I bought a couple of books of varying usefulness and ran through an asston of tutorials but didn't pursue it further mainly out of lack of interest.

For me, Java will be more interesting when people who formerly railed helplessly against its shortcomings and missing features begin pounding on it. I'm hoping that the standard libraries will be more efficient and useful (ie. works with you instead of forcing you to change to fit the tool you're using) and that a 'diet' version of the language will eventually evolve for people who like aspects of the language but can't deal with the bulk of the current setup. It's nearly impossible to predict what direction Java will really take post-announcement because it is, after all, an announcement for the present.

I do hope that opening development will result in a more useful language but it may just piddle out with a bunch of people who love to tinker spending time tinkering with the innards until something more interesting to fiddle with comes along. Is the re-license too late? I dunno but I wasn't an adherent of Java anyhow once it became obvious that it wasn't the panacea for all programming problems that it was hyped as. If nothing else it will serve as an interesting sociological study to give us a glimpse into what happens when the code that people clamored after for so long is finally opened up. I'll admit that it has bolstered my interest in Java in a way that simple design decisions or library additions never could have. Is that worth anything? Probably not to Sun.

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