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How Much Is Java Really Being Used On The Web?

Patrick Jones
Greenhorn

Joined: May 26, 2009
Posts: 20
I am a beginning Java programmer learning the tool.

First off...I AM going to learn Java as I know that learning Java or another full language will help me learn all languages more easily. So the following question is just to satisfy my curiosity and possibly motivate me...

It seems that Java is waning in the face of JavaScript/Ajax/JQuery/PHP etc. In other words, it seems that Java may be getting squeezed off the planet by scripting languages that leverage the web.

Although JQuery and the like are minimal in comparison to Java now, capability wise, the sheer force of a metaphorical tsunami of JavaScript/Ajax/Etc. interest indicates to me that those tools will eventually get built out to a point where Java gets sidelined. It's pretty clear to me why this may well be the outcome: in spite of its best efforts, RELATIVELY SPEAKING, Java is still a total pain in the #$@# to implement into pages. As you can simply cut and paste to install JQuery elements into a web page more and more people are becoming introduced to programming via that route, and hence learn that route. The path in couldn't be easier.

Additionally, the Flash Player is everywhere, and I think that Adobe may eventually tweak it to run JavaScript to keep the rest of the Adobe platform in brisk sales. As it is, with YouTube and other massive sites running on ActionScript, I think Flex has a bright future.

All this has to do with sheer massive market forces, and nothing to do with the capabilities of Java. I'm sure many will explain the things Java can do that these tools can't, but I don't see a cohesive realistic effort on the part of Sun to compete against all this.

It seems that Java is still key to gaming...but what of the web?

I have to imagine that any savvy business owner in the know would request that his business tools be moved to the web, and hence JavaScript/Ajax/etc. Security is a tool, but hardware dongles and the like are growing exponentially to deal with this.

Trust me, this is not a criticism of Java. If anything, I'm looking for reassurance that learning Java is a good thing, when all my reason is telling me that Java, as it stands now, has a bleak future. This is affecting my motivation. I know that a lot of my late teens/early twenties friends, who are very active coders, react with surprise when they see me learning Java -- and ask why I'm bothering with that instead of all the other web languages.

In the past, I think that such views could have been dismissed with the internal observation that the serious business world is going to need something like Java. However, the serious business world around my parts are now asking for web served apps using JavaScript/Ajax/PHP etc. and I'm getting concerned. Games are not really my interest.

My question is whether this is the case. I have to say it is hard at times to stay focused on Java when all the 'cool' stuff is happening elsewhere -- and increasingly so is the 'serious' stuff.


Patrick Jones
Greenhorn

Joined: May 26, 2009
Posts: 20
PS - After I posted, I realized I left a few things out.

Part of my concern stems from the fact that I think iPhone apps absolutely rock...and I assumed for some reason they were written in some form of Java. I was amazed to find they were written in a form of C. My paranoid side is sort of hypothesizing that for fast compiled apps versions of C are going to be the tool of the future...and for everything else JavaScript/Ajax/PHP etc. That leaves Java more or less outta the picture...not as fast as C, and not as populist as the rest of the languages. To refine: in its efforts to be everything, it will end up be nothing.
Ernest Friedman-Hill
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Joined: Jul 08, 2003
Posts: 24187
    
  34

You realize that Java's usage on the client is just a drop in the bucket compared to its use on the server, right? Applets running in browsers, Java Web Start and the like are used a litle bit, but the enormous iceberg of Java is in servlets, JSPs, EJBS, etc -- things running on the server itself. Java is the dominant language for writing such things these days.


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Patrick Jones
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Joined: May 26, 2009
Posts: 20
Well, I started picking up an that from clues in the various books. It seems like it is a gaming tool and a server side tool. So are all the JavaScript/Ajax/PHP users out there sending their requests to Java tools? Java Web Start, Applets, and the like seem hardly used...and as far as I can tell it's because they really suck to get to work right in different browsers and different platforms, compared to, say, Flex. If Java is used to build the things the other languages interact with, it seems like the fun stuff is in the other languages. I mean, coding servers seems like wholesaling the gredients that make concrete, not building things with concrete (which is my preference). But some of my assumptions are probably off here...
Patrick Jones
Greenhorn

Joined: May 26, 2009
Posts: 20
Again, because all this sounds pretty negative, I want to re-emphasize I am going to be learning Java as it seems the best way to get the basic concepts down. I'm just curious if I'm actually going to be using it!

;)
Henry Wong
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Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 18997
    
  40

If Java is used to build the things the other languages interact with, it seems like the fun stuff is in the other languages. I mean, coding servers seems like wholesaling the gredients that make concrete, not building things with concrete (which is my preference). But some of my assumptions are probably off here...


Interesting analogy, but not accurate. Developers (of web apps) generally do both ends. For example, for PHP/Javascript, PHP is the backend and Javascript is the front end. With Java, Servlets/JSP is the backend, and Javascript may be the front end. You need both. Any Java web developer should know HTML, Javascript, etc.

Henry


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David Newton
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Joined: Sep 29, 2008
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Patrick Jones wrote:Java Web Start, Applets, and the like seem hardly used...and as far as I can tell it's because they really suck to get to work right in different browsers and different platforms, compared to, say, Flex.

I'm not sure what gave you that impression; AFAIK there aren't any real cross-platform issues with either. Applets are dead (broadly speaking) except in corporate environments, but they still show up from time to time during normal surfing.

Patrick Jones wrote:I mean, coding servers seems like wholesaling the gredients that make concrete, not building things with concrete (which is my preference). But some of my assumptions are probably off here...

Probably. Almost nobody "codes servers", if by that you mean write a Tomcat or JBoss. Lots of people write server-side code, and, as mentioned, a *lot* of people do both front- and back-end development. I don't get the analogy, either, but then I *like* infrastructural work: I find it more challenging and more rewarding.

All that said, if I was going to teach somebody a language that would enable them to pick up general programming concepts I would *not* teach them Java. Java is a relatively narrow subset of programming paradigms, and arguably gets some of those wrong as well. Java *will* be around for a considerable time, and the Java ecosystem even longer (the JVM in particular).

Patrick Jones wrote:However, the serious business world around my parts are now asking for web served apps using JavaScript/Ajax/PHP etc. and I'm getting concerned.

I'm not sure where you get that one, either: JavaScript and Ajax are front-end technologies and independent of the server side. And sure, some people use PHP--but, in general, not the "serious business world" (with the prerequisite notable exceptions).
Paul Clapham
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Joined: Oct 14, 2005
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    8

Patrick Jones wrote:If Java is used to build the things the other languages interact with, it seems like the fun stuff is in the other languages. But some of my assumptions are probably off here...

There are plenty of companies who need to do things like schedule unionized workers to unload ships, or keep track of bales of cardboard, or do the tax accounting for shipments of controlled substances, or take people's reservations for truck rentals, or any of the other thousands of things done daily by businesses around the world. Most of the work being done is like that.

All of that Flash/Ajax stuff you are talking about is just the front-end to the real business. It's like the paint on the outside of a company's headquarters: sure, the building needs to be painted, and sometimes it's important how nicely it's painted, but most of the work goes on inside the building. So if you're just targeting the "fun" job of painting buildings, you are greatly limiting yourself. A company doesn't need its headquarters painted very often, but it continually needs its business processes being maintained.

I haven't figured out yet why people think that writing Javascript is more fun than writing Java. Or any other programming language for that matter. It's pretty much the same process, really.
David Newton
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Paul Clapham wrote:I haven't figured out yet why people think that writing Javascript is more fun than writing Java. Or any other programming language for that matter. It's pretty much the same process, really.

IMO some languages are more fun to develop in. It's the same process to a degree (modulo different languages require different thought processes), but I'll always prefer languages that let me express myself in a natural way. Different people have different ways of expressing themselves--for some, Java might be more enjoyable than JavaScript, or all languages might be equally "fun", or whatever.

IMO languages are both qualitatively and quantitatively different and occupy a spectrum of expressiveness.
Jeanne Boyarsky
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Patrick Jones wrote: As you can simply cut and paste to install JQuery elements into a web page more and more people are becoming introduced to programming via that route, and hence learn that route. The path in couldn't be easier.

And yet, these people often never really understand what is going on. They may be using code, but they aren't developers in my opinion.


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Sudarshan Kadam
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Joined: Jun 05, 2009
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What about CMSs? Do anybody here thinks Java is as good as PHP for building a CMS? Please give your views.


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David Newton
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Sudarshan Kadam wrote:What about CMSs? Do anybody here thinks Java is as good as PHP for building a CMS? Please give your views.

IMO that's a non-sensical question (in the technical sense--nothing wrong with asking it

*I* think it's *better* than PHP, because I detest PHP. Whether or not Java is "better" than PHP for a task like this depends much, much more on your environment, your skillset, your anticipated deployment needs, the rest of the team that will be using it, and so on.
Sudarshan Kadam
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Posts: 6
David Newton wrote:....Whether or not Java is "better" than PHP for a task like this depends much, much more on your environment, your skillset, your anticipated deployment needs, the rest of the team that will be using it, and so on....


I didn't mean it this way. I am not comparing Java and PHP. I have not seen as many CMSs in Java as in PHP around the web but I have seen Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla etc. So is there any widely used CMS in Java technologies? (and how is it? better or similar or not good as PHP???)
David Newton
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There are several "enterprise-y" CMSs written in Java, and several open-source/content-managment-systems as well.

Sudarshan Kadam wrote: better or similar or not good as PHP???)

I still find the question meaningless: are you asking if a specific Java CMS is better or worse than a specific PHP CMS?
Patrick Jones
Greenhorn

Joined: May 26, 2009
Posts: 20
This is all really helpful. It's obvious to me why I think the scripting languages are more 'fun'...their product is the one your friends look at and go 'oooh...aaaah'...while the 'structural' stuff they can't even see. I can see, however, after the ooohing and aaahing goes on for a while I'll want to get into more serious stuff.

But why use Java over C family languages for the more serious stuff?

David Newton
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Patrick Jones wrote:This is all really helpful. It's obvious to me why I think the scripting languages are more 'fun'...their product is the one your friends look at and go 'oooh...aaaah'...while the 'structural' stuff they can't even see.

That's not why *I* like some other languages more than Java. The moniker "scripting language" has always puzzled me a bit, too.

But why use Java over C family languages for the more serious stuff?

Easier development? Most people put Java in the "C family", though, so I'm not sure of the distinction you're making.
Patrick Jones
Greenhorn

Joined: May 26, 2009
Posts: 20
Well, I guess scripting language means 'noncompiled' to me...

However, this thread is working to dispel a lot of myths I had, and false distinctions, as in 'Java vs. C', etc. I'm actually quite relieved they are are more related than I thought. It seems that JavaScript syntax is pretty similar to Java, and Actionscript 3.0 as well. So I'm not really going to worry about it all much more and just continue on with learning Java, knowing C++ etc. etc. are going to be different, but not totally foreign.

I don't feel like a total nimrod for bringing all this up, though, as I know these bogus distinctions on my part exist in the world at large, based on chats I've had with folks. Glad to get it sorted...

Sudarshan Kadam
Greenhorn

Joined: Jun 05, 2009
Posts: 6
David Newton wrote:I still find the question meaningless: are you asking if a specific Java CMS is better or worse than a specific PHP CMS?

Now now my friend, why are you picking up only few words here? I think I made it clear that I want to know if there is any *famous* or *well known as wordpress, drupal etc* CMS in Java? But you keep quoting other things. Am I asking very unintelligible question? And I am not comparing them.
Ulf Dittmer
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Joined: Mar 22, 2005
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  65
Sudarshan Kadam wrote:I think I made it clear that I want to know if there is any *famous* or *well known as wordpress, drupal etc* CMS in Java?

No, I don't think that was clear. I, too, interpreted the question to mean how Java CMSes in general compare to PHP CMSes in general (which would, indeed, be a silly question).

But now that you've clarified that, there are several well-known Java CMSes in the open source space, like OpenCMS, Magnolia, Alfresco and dotCMS, and numerous commercial offerings like Day Communique and Coremedia.


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Jesper de Jong
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  22

Patrick Jones wrote:But why use Java over C family languages for the more serious stuff?

One huge reason is that Java has automatic memory management (garbage collection). In C or C++ you have to manage memory yourself, and mistakes with pointers are one of the most common sources of errors. Java's automatic memory management saves the developer a lot of time.


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Patrick Jones
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Joined: May 26, 2009
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Now...more automated memory management sounds good to me! I do feel like Java is a good all around tool. In looking at the JavaOne after-conference material it does seem that Sun might be lagging a bit in the cool-and-current department, but as explained here the Sun tools are primarily 'infrastructure' related. I started getting the feeling Sun (and Java) are a a pretty 'top down' organization and wonder if that is hampering their growth. It seems like they should move a little of the money from the 'infrastructure' side to the web app side, strategically speaking. Especially as it seems that what were once dismissed as flaky web browser side tools (like Ajax and Flash) are now becoming the frontrunner tools for serious business apps. I'm new to this, of course, but it seems like more is being doing 'in browser'; these 'in browser tasks', it seems, often used to be done server side and then dished out in whole to the browser over the web...a slower process. I guess the Applet concept was Sun's attempt at this, but other technologies won out and Applets are more or less dead except in occasional corporate environments. I'm sure I might be off base on some of this...but I'm trying to get a feel for all of this. I apologize for my sketchy comprehension...but why is it so much easier to update the Flash Player than to stay current on the 'Java Player' (or whatever it's called for Java)? It seems like Sun should make a single Flash Player sized dealio...most users don't blink to update their Flash Player but I'm not sure it's the same with the Java side of things.

It seems like a little while back there was some debate over whether Apps are going entirely to the web. Some bet on one horse, some on the other. What's confusing me is that Sun seems to have been the visionary of write once/deliver anywhere web delivered and updated apps but has been clearly flattened by Ajax based tools and ActionScript 3.0.
Mark Vedder
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Posts: 624

Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:
Patrick Jones wrote: As you can simply cut and paste to install JQuery elements into a web page more and more people are becoming introduced to programming via that route, and hence learn that route. The path in couldn't be easier.

And yet, these people often never really understand what is going on. They may be using code, but they aren't developers in my opinion.

I agree 100% with your opinion Jeanne. I call these people CGI hackers where CGI = Copy from Google Inquiries.

Patrick Jones wrote:
I guess the Applet concept was Sun's attempt at this, but other technologies won out and Applets are more or less dead except in occasional corporate environments.
. . .
I apologize for my sketchy comprehension...but why is it so much easier to update the Flash Player than to stay current on the 'Java Player' (or whatever it's called for Java)? It seems like Sun should make a single Flash Player sized dealio...most users don't blink to update their Flash Player but I'm not sure it's the same with the Java side of things.

There are a lot of opinions in this subject as to why Applet's failed to gain the market share they were capably of. Some think Applet's were ahead of their time. The JVM confusion caused by the Microsoft VM not being Java compliant caused a lot of computability problems and gave Applets a bad reputation. And yes, Sun failed to have a good and easy install & upgrade path for the JRE (Java Runtime Environment, which is what you called the "Java Player"). They finally addressed this in Java 6 Update 10, and the install and upgrade of the JRE is much simpler, but it may well be closing the barn door after the horse has left. We'll see. But remember, the Applet concept came out in the mid 90's when browser technologies were much more basic; so that limited the ability for early JRE's to be easy to upgrade and installed.

Patrick Jones wrote:
It seems like [Sun] should move a little of the money from the 'infrastructure' side to the web app side, strategically speaking.


What you may not be realizing is that there is far far less money in the client side, but there is a ton of money in that infrastructure side. My current employer and my previous employers spend millions of dollars a year on server side technologies and licenses. I doubt we spend a dime on client side technologies even though we are using Applets, AJAX, GWT and Flex and good old DHTML (i.e. JavaScript, CSS and HTML). When you are supporting massive infrastructures of business critical applications, companies will spend that money. So to say that strategically Sun should look at the client side I think is an incorrect statement. Client side technologies change constantly. And the large majority of people using the fancy client side technologies -- AJAX, Flex -- and the more "basic" server side technologies do not want to pay for them. So there's little money in it. And if you look at all the client side technologies, the one's that typically do better in the market are the one's that have some type of Java server side support built in, like Flex. Why is that... because of how pervasive Java is as a server side technology. And as an FYI, Sun is trying to come up with more client side tools, such as JavaFX, but client side stuff has unfortunately been Sun's weaker area. But again, fancy client side technologies are only a tiny bit of what most companies do. I think Paul Clapham's analogy on the subject is excellent.

Finally, another area where Java is prevalent is in embedded systems. Like inside the Mars rover, cable boxes, and tons of other gadgets.

That's my take on the subject.
Patrick Jones
Greenhorn

Joined: May 26, 2009
Posts: 20
Mark,

That was really helpful...and makes a lot of sense. I'm still trucking ahead with my Java learnin' and loving it. One thing is for sure...I wouldn't want to be tackling the client side languages without some basic understanding of Java under my belt! So onward ho...and thanks all for participating in my thread!

PS - I should mention...there are a lot of artist tools (Processing, etc.) on the Java side...and I really, really, really hope Sun realizes that they can really compete in the about-to-be-huge world of multitouch user interfaces. By 'realizes' I mean heavily fund R&D and help third party developers with both cash and technical assistance. This would be a seriously strategic move for them; Microsoft is heavily funding their multitouch initiatives and Apple is already brought them to market.
 
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