Where is the content?
- By Dwight Deugo
How do you find and generate content and how does Java help you do it? One approach is to use Java Server Pages (JSP) technology to get the job done. Just in case you hadn't heard, JSP technology, which is an extension of the Servlet technology, uses XML-like tags and scriptlets written in the Java to encapsulate the logic that generates the content for the page. In theory, JSP should enable the fast development of Web-based applications. I guess the validity of that statement really depends on whom you talk with. However, if the following numbers are any indication, there must be more fact than fiction to it. I counted more than 30 companies that provide software to turn a Web server into a Servlet- and JSP-capable environment, and many others that provide tool support. While industrial support is not a sufficient condition to prove a technology really does make your life better, I would strongly argue that it is a necessary one. As a counter example, a few of you might state that Scheme is a great language. Although I agree, it just doesn't have enough support from industry to help me get my job done quicker and with fewer bugs.
On the other hand, the JSP specification is an industry-wide collaboration.
Sure the specification is led by Sun, but others can and have made a difference in it, while even more have helped to make it work.
Another approach to providing content that is growing in popularity is use of a peer-to-peer (P2P) infrastructure and related applications. Sun is ready to provide us with something in this space. Back in February, Bill Joy, chief scientist at Sun, announced JXTA, Sun's P2P initiative. The idea is that a combined Java, Jini, JXTA architecture can provide a complete approach to distributed computing. Just imagine that rather than retrieving content from a single server, you have the potential of getting information from every connected peer in the network. File sharing tools, such as Napster, helped to promote this idea. However, as a peer, your machine also acts like a server, providing content to others. How many people want other machines connecting and possibly executing code on their machines? Sound familiar? It's the same security problem that Java set out to solve in the first place. If one can securely enable peers to communicate with other peers, half the battle is won. So put on your thinking caps and develop a solution. I am sure Sun would be interested in talking with you-or buying your solution.
Although I am writing this before JavaOne, my bet is that JXTA will sit center stage. And I am sure we will hear more about JSP and related success stories. I am also looking for content at JavaOne. I'll let you know what I find!
Dwight Deugo is a professor of computer science at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario. Dwight has been an editor for SIGS and 101communications publications, and serves as chair of the Java Programming track at the SIGS Conference for Java Development. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.