From the Editor: Java vs. Microsoft, act II
The Java revolution brought some very good times to IT organizations looking
to build applications that can run on multiple platforms -- long an unfulfilled
dream despite long-ago promises of technologies like CORBA and messaging.
In the mid-1990s, the Java programming language became the hot technology for
the world's top programmers and the Java 2 Extended Edition (J2EE) promised
to let corporate developers build even the most complex applications to gain
their companies a competitive edge. At first, top suppliers like Sun and IBM
looked at Java and J2EE as ammunition to take on and perhaps beat Microsoft
in the battle for everyman developers.
But while J2EE did work very well in certain high-technology-savvy organizations,
it could never appeal to the programming masses because of its complexity. The
low end belonged to Microsoft Visual Studio and would continue to belong to
Microsoft, or so expert observers thought.
Over the past few months, a new breed of Java tools has seeped into the marketplace
as toolmakers like Sun and BEA seek to capture some of that traditionally Microsoft
developer community. At the same time, Microsoft is touting the .NET version
of its Visual Studio toolset, an implementation that observers note has added
significant complexity to the technology.
In our Cover Story this month ("In search of a gentler Java") contributor
Colleen Frye takes a look at some of these tools and whether IT development
organizations are ready to start building simpler, low-end Java applications
for multiple platforms rather than using the Microsoft tools for just Windows.
Will the Microsoft vs. Java battles ever end?
And, of course, our year-end issue also features a look back at several of
the key happenings of 2003, some good and some not-so-good. The economy may
have been sour, the IT development zone saw some jobs travel overseas, and hackers
caused some significant problems, but we still saw the emergence of some interesting
technologies, as well as some encouraging signs for the future.
But Nicholas Carr's critique, "IT Doesn't Matter," in the May issue
of the Harvard Business Review was perhaps the most talked about happening in
2003. More important than the criticism from the corporate IT and IT supplier
world, the most important result was the debate Carr started. You and your suppliers
have been forced to explain what you do, why you do it and why it's vital to
your organizations. And that's a good thing.
Mike Bucken is former Editor-in-Chief of Application Development Trends magazine.