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Back to newsletter 157 contents

James Governor (Industry Analyst at RedMonk) produced the quote of the year at JAX London, with "when web companies grow up they turn into Java shops" (referencing Linkedin, Google, Twitter, Yahoo, Facebook). Coincidentally, Andrew Binstock (Editor in Chief at Dr Dobbs) in a widely discussed thread about how vibrant Java still is, gave some of the reasons why this trend occurs: quality tools, vast array of libraries, remarkable portability, brilliant documentation, extensive resources; more features overall than any other language. See our news items below if you want to track into these threads.

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I've often said that it's more than these: there are probably a dozen languages that a large project might consider using because there is a sufficiently wide ecosystem, volume of resources and feature set to make the project succeed in the long term. Of these, Java stands out not only for having overall the most of these features, but critically for me as being the most maintainable language of them. It has the right combination of typing and contraints on the APIs so that when your codebase grows large and a large mix of programmer capabilities are involved in a project, it's still perfectly possible for a new joiner to identify and fix issues, add functionality, and be productive without breaking other parts of the project.

When you look at companies (and hence IT projects) "growing up", maintainability becomes the most critical issue. A young IT project can use pretty much anything, it's highest priority is to become a functioning usable product so that it can be successful; there's no point in worrying about maintainability at this stage since the majority of products won't need to be maintained, because they'll fail. So you'll often see three stages of a succesful project

  1. Startup - use whatever gets it working quickest;
  2. Scaling - it's success could overwhelm it, so use spit and glue to keep it creaking along until it's obviously soon going to fall over;
  3. Maintainable - rework more and more sections in something that is mainstream and maintainable - "grow up". Java isn't the only choice here, but it's easily the best for now.

This is probably even a reasonable route to follow for your IT project - as long as you aren't trapping yourself into some technology that will cost a fortune to rework. Now on to all our usual links to Java performance tools, news, articles and, as ever, all the extracted tips from all of this month's referenced articles.

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Back to newsletter 157 contents


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