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This month, Javva The Hutt trashes the idea that there is any serious competition to Java (the language) at the moment. Coincidentally, I was reading Michael Schwern's "Perl is unDead" talk, which was jolly interesting in it's own right. But what I found most interesting were the lessons the talk holds for Java's future (and probably that of any other popular language). Schwern's basic premise is that Perl has a perception problem, that it is seen to be in decline, even though it is not in decline by any measure other than "perception". And that perception of it's decline could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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The facts he lays out are most compelling. When Perl started, it filled a niche with no competition. It became hot, then successful, then mainstream. Then it got competition (Ruby, PHP, Python). And then Perl failed to evolve fast enough to handle the changing environment (Javascript on the client integrating simply with server code). The current environment is that Perl has competition (from Ruby, PHP, Python) in the areas where it works well, and fails to work nicely with the latest hot trends (AJAX, Web 2.0).

So what lesson does this hold for Java? Look back at the beginning of the last paragraph. You can replace "Perl" with "Java", and the first part holds identically: When Java started, it filled a niche with no competition. It became hot, then successful, then mainstream. Then it got competition (the other RIA browser client options, and potentially C# if that ever gets some real momentum). But the next part of that paragraph doesn't yet apply to Java. Java has continued evolving, to handle the changing environment we are in now, and there is no let up in sight for that. Which suggests, at least to me, that there is no hint of weakness in the Java story just yet. True, sooner or later, Java will flag. Talks like Schwern's helps us identify when that might be. But for now, I have no problem in telling you that if you want to optimise your I.T. career, Java is still the best language to know well.

(For a different but also interesting view, you might like to read Daniel Pietraru's "13 reasons why Ruby, Python and the gang will push Java to die? of old age"

Now on with the newsletter. We have our usual lists of Java performance tools, news, and articles. At fasterj we have a new cartoon, and as I mentioned earlier, Javva The Hutt finds that Java has no competition after trawling the JavaOne blogs. And finally, as usual, we have extracted tips from all of this month's referenced articles. Of particular note is the IBM developerworks article "A systematic approach to problem solving" which is a nice reminder, for all you troubleshooters, of just what the title says.

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