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by Rogers Cadenhead
This represents the end result of nearly 15 years of trying
to come up with a better programming language and environment
for building simpler and more reliable software.|
-Sun Microsystems cofounder Bill Joy|
A year ago, Java was just an island and one of the cooler synonyms
for coffee (along with joe and demitasse).
But anyone who has come within five feet of a Web page, computer
magazine, or business newspaper in 1996 has heard of Java, the
programming language from Sun Microsystems.
If you haven't been initiated into the Secret Personhood of Java
yet, you might be wondering what all the fuss is about. It's just
a programming language, for cryin' out loud! It's not some kind
of cross-dressing basketball player, Latino dance craze, or teeth
Figure 1.1 shows a Java program being used to test students on
Figure 1.1: A Java program to administer student testing (courtesy of David Benjamin and Auburn University).
The test software itself isn't remarkable-numerous computer-based
education programs are being used in schools today. What is noteworthy
about the program are the following points:
- It runs on a World Wide Web page, making
the test instantly accessible to the entire planet.
- The types of computer and operating system
being used by the student don't matter-the student can use a Windows
95 PC clone, an Apple MacOS computer, or any other setup that
has a Java interpreter.
- No special installation was required.
The program loads itself when needed and unloads when it's done.
Java represents a fundamental shift in the way software can be
designed and experienced. This, more than anything else, is why
Sun's invention is the computer nerd's Macarena.
The Macarena is a Latino dance craze that involves lots of repetitive motion, arm gyration, and an occasional pelvic swivel. If you're unfamiliar with the term, insert your own annoying aerobic trend into the previous paragraph and repeat as desired.
Shortly after Sun introduced Java in late 1995, company cofounder
Bill Joy described the language as follows:
Java is just a small, simple, safe, object-oriented, interpreted
or dynamically optimized, byte-coded, architecture-neutral, garbage-collected,
multithreaded programming language with a strongly typed exception-handling
mechanism for writing distributed, dynamically extensible programs.
At this point, you probably are saying one of two things: "Duh!"
If you're in the "huh?" camp, this chapter is for you.
It discusses what Java is, where Java came from, and where Java
is going. The "duh!" camp canenefit from this overview
as well-and there's enough advanced material in Java Unleashed
for even the most grizzled Java veteran.
Java's first official beta release was in November 1995, two months after Netscape became the first company to license the language from Sun. You may be questioning whether someone can become a "grizzled veteran" after little more than a year. However, many of us in the computer programming community have rather-shall we say-unique approaches to wellness and diet which contribute to premature grizzling.
The first thing to discuss, before getting into what Bill Joy
meant in that Mother of All Sentences, is where Java came from.
The story of Java is a tale of two situations-the worst of times
followed by the best of times. It's a story about how a promising
language didn't amount to a hill of coffee beans in this crazy
world-until the crazy world got a little crazier and a new mass
medium was born: the World Wide Web.
One for the Toasters
Five years ago, James Gosling was part of Green, an isolated research
project at Sun that was studying how to put computers into everyday
household items. The researchers wanted to make smart appliances
like thoughtful toasters, lucid lamps, and sagacious Salad Shooters-the
Jetsons' vision of the future realized. The group also wanted
these devices to communicate with each other.
To get a hands-on look at the issue, the Greens built a prototype
device called Star7. This gadget was a handheld remote control
operated by touching animated objects on the screen. A Star7 user
could navigate by fingertip through a universe of rooms and objects.
The universe featured Duke-immortalized later as Java's mascot
(see Figure 1.2).
Figure 1.2: Duke, Java's mascot.
The most remarkable ability of the Star7 device was how it communicated
with other Star7 devices. An on-screen object could be passed
from one device to another. The prototype was a distributed operating
system in which each device was a part of the whole-exactly the
kind of thing that would be needed for the freezer to tell the
vacuum to tell the humans that the ice machine is on strike until
someone cleans it.
The original plan was for the Star7 operating system to be developed
in C++. However, as Gosling said in a speech at the JavaOne conference
in May 1996, "The tools kept breaking. It was at a fairly
early breaking point when I was so disgusted that I went to my
office and started typing." He wasn't writing hate mail to
Bjarne Stroustrup, the primary developer of C++. Instead, Gosling
holed up in his office and wrote a new language that was better
for the purposes of the Green project than C++. He called the
language Oak in honor of a tree that could be seen from his office
From the start, Gosling's language was created so that simple,
bug-free, network-capable programs could be written with it. Like
C++, Oak was object oriented-a powerful way of developing computer
programs that has many advantages over other methods but is difficult
to master. Oak was designed to be easier to learn and use than
other object-oriented languages.
Oak programs had to be platform independent because consumer appliance
manufacturers need the ability to replace a higher-priced CPU
with a cheaper one whenever possible to cut costs. Unlike computer
owners, an appliance consumer isn't looking for a math coprocessor
and 33MHz of added computational speed when buying a lawn edger.
The consumer also is less likely to tolerate a bug in the edger's
software or hardware, especially if said glitch causes unexpected
The Green project had an impressive demonstration device, operating
system, and programming language. Sun's higher-ups gave the go-ahead
and the project was incorporated as FirstPerson in November 1992.
The group focused its efforts on cable set-top boxes and the potentially
billion-dollar interactive television (ITV) industry. Don't laugh-this
was the early 1990s.
As the FirstPerson team was busy gunning to do Time-Warner's interactive
TV trial in Spring 1993, an event took place that would become
very important later to the FirstPerson people, long after they
struck out in the ITV business. The first visual World Wide Web
browser, Mosaic 1.0, was developed by Marc Andreesen, an undergraduate
student working at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications.
Caught in the Web
For the next 12 months, the FirstPerson project tried to sell
one of the ITV or consumer electronics companies on the use of
Oak and the Green operating system. The future of Java can trace
its roots back to the project's failure to attract a big client
in its chosen field. After Time-Warner chose SGI over FirstPerson,
and a deal with 3DO for the FirstPerson OS did not materialize,
the project was cut in half and it started scrambling for a new
In mid-1994, the folks who stuck with Oak found their reason for
being: the World Wide Web. When Oak was created, the Web was a
little-known service bouncing around the high-energy physics community.
However, Andreesen's graphical Web browser had sparked an international
phenomenon, and the Web was rapidly becoming a mass medium. The
Oak technology was well-suited for this medium, especially because
of its ability to run on multiple platforms. More importantly,
it introduced something that wasn't available anywhere else-programs
that could be run on user's computers safely from a Web page.
Patrick Naughton and Jonathan Payne finished WebRunner, a Web
browser that brought back the star of the Star7, Duke. Sun realized
it had something promising on its hands, but soon found that Oak
could not be trademarked because of a product already using the
When Sun needed to rename Oak, no one used Gosling's "look out
the office window" method of naming. This is perhaps fortunate.
Ask yourself if Java would have been as successful under any of the
After brainstorming sessions in January 1995 to supplant the Oak
name, Java won for the language and HotJava replaced
WebRunner as the browser's name. Java does not stand for
Just Another Vague Acronym, or any other acronym or meaningful
term. Like rock bands (Deep Blue Something, Smashing Pumpkins)
and celebrity offspring (Moon Unit Zappa, Chastity Bono), Java
was the name chosen because it sounded the coolest. It won out
over DNA, Silk, Ruby, and WRL (WebRunner Language).
The project now had a cool name, a cool new purpose, and a HotJava
browser to show it off. On March 23, 1995, it attracted a cool
new admirer: that Andreesen kid. In a front-page story, the San
Jose Mercury News reported that Sun was working on a project
to make Web pages "as lively as a CD-ROM." The story
included the following quote from Andreesen, who had become a
vice president at Netscape (and a Bill Gates starter kit): "What
these guys are doing is undeniably, absolutely new," Andreesen
told the Mercury News. "It's great stuff. There's
so much stuff people want to do over the network that they haven't
had the software to do. These guys are really pushing the envelope."
The phenomenon was on. Netscape licensed the Java language for
use in its browser a few months after the article ran, putting
the language in front of millions of Netscape users. The first
beta release of Java was made available for download in November
1995. Sun made a developer's kit and the source code for its product
freely available to anyone who wanted it-and by that time, thousands
of people and companies did.
Toasters are no smarter today than they were in 1991, so in that
regard, Sun's research project has been a total failure. However,
a new object-oriented, made-for-the-Internet programming language
was created instead.
Now that you know about Java's ancestors, it's time to be introduced
to the language.
The basics: Java is an object-oriented programming language developed
by Sun Microsystems that plays to the strengths of the Internet.
Object-oriented programming (OOP) is an unusual but powerful
way to develop software. In OOP, a computer program is considered
to be a group of objects that interact with each other. Consider
an embezzlement program implemented with Java: A Worker object
skims some Money objects from the CompanyFunds object and puts
them in its own BankAccount object. If another Worker object uses
the DoublecheckFunds object, a Police object will be called.
The feature that is best known about Java is that it can be used
to create programs that execute from World Wide Web pages. These
programs are called applets. A check of the AltaVista search
engine at http://www.altavista.digital.com
finds more than 4,800 Web pages running applets as of this writing.
Java programs made such a big splash on the Web because they offered
interactivity in a medium that was largely one way. The Web distributes
almost all information in a passive manner. Someone using a browser
asks for a page, looks it over, asks for another, looks it over,
and so on. Lather, rinse, repeat.
A Java applet running on a Web page provides a much richer experience-both
in terms of information and user interaction. Information can
change in response to user input or be updated dynamically as
a Web page is viewed. Figure 1.3 shows an example of a Java applet
that dynamically updates itself. The applet, offered by JavaWorld
magazine (at the URL http://www.javaworld.com)
in conjunction with Quote.Com, updates a stock portfolio dynamically
with quotes updated in real time.
Figure 1.3: A Java applet that updates a stock portfolio in real time (courtesy of Java World magazine).
Although Web-based programs are a strength of the language, Java
is a general-purpose language that can be used to develop all
kinds of programs.
A Java program is created as a text file with the file extension
.java. It is compiled into
one or more files of bytecodes with the extension .class.
Bytecodes are sets of instructions similar to the machine
code instructions created when a computer program is compiled.
The difference is that machine code must run on the computer system
it was compiled for, and bytecodes can run on any computer system
equipped to handle Java programs.
The next section describes why Java is being used and takes a
closer look at Bill Joy's adjective-stuffed description of the
Although "internationally beloved" might be pushing
it a bit, Java has quickly become a popular choice for computer
programming-both on and off the Internet. A lot of the initial
interest undoubtedly came from people who wanted to know whether
Java lived up to the hype. In a short time, the language has become
one of the biggest buzzwords of the Internet, spawning magazines,
Web sites, training courses, conferences, and more than 120 books.
Even if Java was as underpublicized as Tonya Harding's singing
career, the programming language has some advantages over other
languages such as C++ and Visual Basic. These can be found in
Bill Joy's description of the language.
As a reminder, Joy sang its praises as follows:
Java is just a small, simple, safe, object-oriented, interpreted
or dynamically optimized, byte-coded, architecture-neutral, garbage-collected,
multithreaded programming language with a strongly typed exception-handling
mechanism for writing distributed, dynamically extensible programs.
These adjectives can be tackled by dividing them into more manageable
Java Is Small and Simple
When James Gosling retreated to his office to write the language
that became Java, it was modeled after C and C++. The object-oriented
approach, and most of Java's syntax, is adapted from C++. Programmers
who are familiar with that language (or with C) will have a much
easier time learning Java because of the common features.
However, Java has been described as "C++ minus" because
of elements of C++ that were omitted. Gosling wanted to avoid
the problems that the Green project had encountered when using
C++ as it developed the Star7 prototype. The most complex parts
of C++ were excluded from Java, such as pointers and memory management.
These elements are complicated to use, and are thus easier to
use incorrectly. Finding a pointer error in a large program is
an experience not unlike searching for the one-armed man who framed
you for murder. Memory management occurs automatically in Java-programmers
do not have to write their own garbage-collection routines to
free up memory.
Another design decision to make Java simpler is its elementary
data types and objects. The language enforces very strict rules
regarding variables-in almost all cases, you have to use variables
as the data type they were declared to be, or use explicit casts
to manipulate them. This arrangement permits mistakes in variable
use to be caught when the program is compiled, rather than letting
them creep into a running program where they're harder to find.
As a result, programs behave in a more predictable manner.
Experienced programmers may have trouble adjusting to some of
the changes and reductions from C++. However, Java's developers
were trying to make the language easier to write, debug, and learn.
Java Is Object Oriented
Object-oriented programming (OOP) is a powerful way of organizing
and developing software. The short-form description of OOP is
that it organizes a program as a set of components called objects.
These objects exist independently of each other, and they have
rules for communicating with other objects and for telling those
objects to do things. Think back to how Star7 devices were developed
as a group of independent devices with methods for communicating
with each other. Object-oriented programming is highly compatible
with what the Green project was created to do and, by extension,
for Java as well.
Java inherits its object-oriented concepts from C++ and other
languages such as Smalltalk. The fact that a programming language
is object oriented may not seem like a benefit to some. Object-oriented
programming can be an intimidating subject to tackle, even if
you have some experience programming with other languages. However,
object-oriented programs are more adaptable for use in other projects,
easier to understand, and more bugproof.
The language includes a set of class libraries that provide basic
variable types, system input and output capabilities, and other
functions. It also includes classes to support networking, Internet
protocols, and graphical user interface functions.
There's a lot of excitement in the programming community because
Java provides a new opportunity to use object-oriented techniques
on the jobs. Smalltalk, the language that pioneered object-oriented
programming in the 1970s, is well-respected but has never been
widely adopted as a software-development choice. As a result,
getting the go-ahead to develop a project using Smalltalk can
be an uphill struggle. C++ is object oriented, but concerns about
its use have already been described. Java is overcoming the hurdle
in terms of usage, especially in regard to Internet programming
and the development of distributed applications.
Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, told the
attendees at the JavaOne conference one big reason he's excited
about the language: "We now have an excuse to really use
Java Is Safe
Another thing essential to Java's success is that it be safe.
The original reason for Java to execute reliably was that people
expect their waffle irons not to kill them or to exhibit any other
unreliable behavior. This emphasis on security was well-suited
for Java's adaptation to the World Wide Web.
A Java program that executes from a Web page is called an applet.
All other Java programs are called applications. When an
applet is encountered on a Web page (if the user's browser can
handle Java), the browser downloads the applet along with the
text and images on the page. The applet then runs on the user's
computer. This act should raise a red flag-danger! danger!-because
a lot of harmful things can occur when programs are executed:
viruses, Trojan horses, the Microsoft Network, and so on.
Java provides security on several different levels. First, the
language was designed to make it extremely difficult to execute
damaging code. The elimination of pointers is a big step in this
regard. Pointers are a powerful feature, as the programmers of
C-like languages can attest, but pointers can be used to forge
access to parts of a program where access is not allowed, and
to access areas in memory that are supposed to be unalterable.
By eliminating all pointers except for a limited form of references
to objects, Java is a much more secure language.
Another level of security is the bytecode verifier. As described
earlier, Java programs are compiled into sets of instructions
called bytecodes. Before a Java program is run, a verifier checks
each bytecode to make sure that nothing suspicious is going on.
In addition to these measures, Java has several safeguards that
apply to applets. To prevent a program from committing random
acts of violence against a user's disk drives, an applet cannot
open, read, or write files on the user's system. Also, because
Java applets can open new windows, these windows have a Java logo
and text that identifies their identity. This prevents one of
these pop-up windows from pretending to be something such as a
user name and password dialog box.
There is no system of security that is completely foolproof, and
there were several instances in the first year after Java's release
where security bugs were brought to Sun's attention by programmers
such as David Hopwood. The following Web site describes some of
these incidents and outlines the issues regarding safe Internet
Because of the multiple levels of security, and the continued
efforts to improve these measures, Java is generally regarded
as a secure means to execute code over the World Wide Web.
These safeguards are not an absolute guarantee against malicious programming. Several security experts have found ways to circumvent Java applet security during the first year of the language's availability, and the details were sent to JavaSoft and browser developers. There will undoubtedly be new security holes found in the future with Java, as there are with any system. If you are concerned about running Java applets on your computer, you should run only applets that have been approved by a Java directory such as Gamelan or another trusted source. Gamelan, which can be found at the URL http://www.gamelan.com, tests applets before offering them. You also should back up any essential data on your computer regularly-which is good practice in any case.
Java Is Platform Independent
Platform independence is another way of saying that Java is architecture
neutral. If both terms leave you saying "huh?", they
basically mean that Java programs don't care what system they're
Most computer software is developed for a specific operating system.
If Sid Software wanted its two-fisted 17th-century shoot-'em-up
Quaker to run on Windows and Mac systems, it had to develop
two versions of the software at a significant effort and expense.
Platform independence is the ability of the same program
to work on different operating systems; Java is completely platform
Java's variable types have the same size across all Java development
platforms-so an integer is always the same size, no matter which
system a Java program was written and compiled on. Also, as shown
by the use of applets on the Web, a Java .class
file of bytecode instructions can execute on any platform without
Sun Microsystems has been aggressive in making Java available
on different systems. As JavaSoft President Alan Baratz says,
"Anything that feels, smells, walks, or talks like it has
a processor-we'd like the Java platform to live on it." There
are Java interpreters that can run programs for Microsoft Windows
95 and NT, Apple Macintosh 7.5, SPARC Solaris 2.3 or higher, and
Intel x86 Solaris; other systems have Java versions under development.
Java's declaration of platform independence is often trumpeted
by Java advocates as a major accomplishment because it opens up
a much larger audience for programs than has been readily available
in the past. Although no major commercial releases of Java-based
software have been introduced as of this writing (other than JavaSoft
products such as HotJava and the Java WorkShop programming environment),
several have been announced.
Java Is That Other Stuff, Too
One adjective that has been left out thus far is that Java is
multithreaded. Threads represent a way for a computer program
to do more than one task at the same time. Many operating systems
are multitasking. Windows 95, for example, enables a person to
write a book chapter with Word in one window while using Netscape
Navigator to download every known picture of E! host Eleanor Mondale
in the other. (Speaking hypothetically, of course.)
A multithreaded language extends this schizophrenic behavior to
programs so that more than one set of instructions can be executed
concurrently. Java provides the tools to write multithreaded programs
and to make these programs reliable in execution.
Another thing that should be highlighted is Java's network-centric
nature. Sun, the company that trademarked the phrase, "the
network is the computer," has created a language that backs
it up. Star7 was able to pass an object from one device to another
using radio signals, and Java makes it possible to create applications
that communicate across the Internet in the same way.
Its networkability may be the area in which Java truly separates
itself from other languages that can be used for development.
As language creator James Gosling has remarked, "The thing
that distinguishes Java is its approach to distributed programming."
Most of Bill Joy's accolades should make more sense to you at
this point, although it may take a complete reading of Java
Unleashed before you're ready to string together technical
jargon like his with the proficiency of a Dilbert character.
Now that you have an idea about what Java is and why you should
use it, forsaking all others (or maybe not), you're ready to get
started. To understand the status of Java development today, you
should learn more about the Java Developer's Kit, the language
Application Programming Interface (API), future APIs, and some
examples of Java in action.
The Java Developers Kit
The Java Developers Kit (JDK) is a set of command-line tools that
can be used to create Java programs. As of this writing, version
1.0.2 is the current release of the JDK, and it can be downloaded
from the following Web address:
Sun supports the following platforms: Microsoft Windows 95 and
NT, Solaris 2.x for SPARC and x86 systems, and Apple MacOS. The
JDK includes the following tools: a compiler, an interpreter to
run compiled Java standalone applications, an applet viewer to
run Java applets, and other utilities.
There are numerous alternatives to JDK 1.0.2 that offer graphical
user interfaces, tools to speed up debugging and program development,
and other niceties. Some of these alternatives use the JDK transparently
during use, while others replace the JDK's tools.
JavaSoft, the division of Sun Microsystems responsible for Java
development, plans to release a new, expanded version of the JDK
that may be available as you read this. The successor to JDK 1.0.2
will be version 1.1, and it is expected to include improved security,
new windowing design classes, a way to group files into archives,
and other enhancements.
The Java API
The Java Application Programming Interface (API) is a set of classes
used to develop Java programs. These classes are organized into
groups called packages. There are packages for the following
- Numeric variable and string manipulation
- Image creation and manipulation
- File input and output
- Windowing and graphical user interface
- Applet programming
- Error handling
The API includes enough functionality to create sophisticated
applets and applications. The Java API must be supported by all
operating systems and Web software equipped to execute Java programs,
so you can count on the existence of Java API class files when
The Java API is at version 1.0.2 at this time; Sun will make no
changes in future versions that would require changes to source
code. Although enhancements are planned for future releases of
the API, there will be no removals or changes to class behavior.
In addition to the basic API that must be present with all Java
implementations, Sun is developing extended APIs that extend the
features of the language.
All but one of the following classes are in various stages of
development at Sun:
- Commerce API, for secure commercial transactions
- Security API, which adds advanced security
features, an improved bytecode verifier, encryption, and other
- Three Enterprise APIs, to connect programs
with enterprise database and legacy applications
- Media API, which adds multimedia classes
for graphics, sound, video, 3D, VRML, and telephony
- Java Beans component APIs, to connect
Java to reusable software component schemes such as Microsoft
ActiveX, Netscape LiveConnect, and OpenDoc
- Servlet API, which creates applet-like
Java programs that can run on a Web server
- Management API, to integrate with network
management systems, which will be offered as part of the Solstice
WorkShop development tool
- Additional Abstract Windowing Toolkit
classes, to extend the capabilities of Java's graphical user interface
- An object serialization API, which enables
objects to be stored on and loaded from disks
- A Socratic API, which answers the questions
that have befuddled mankind for centuries, including the chicken-or-egg
dilemma, the doctrine of original sin, the noise caused by trees
falling in uninhabited forests, and actress Susan Lucci's lack
of success at the Daytime Emmy awards
Java Beans is the most likely of the extended APIs to appear first,
although the enhanced security APIs are close to completion. If
you guessed that the Socratic API was the false one, move forward
two spaces-you're right. However, Microsoft could not take the
risk that another company would be first to implement it-the Socratic
API will begin development with ActiveX later this year.
In May 1996, JavaSoft announced plans to develop JavaOS, a compact
operating system intended to run Java programs. The stated goal
is to be the fastest and smallest platform that can handle Java.
In addition to being a competitor to operating systems such as
Microsoft Windows 95, JavaOS will put the language where it was
originally intended to be: in appliances.
The operating system will be embedded on processor chips being
developed by Sun. At the JavaOne conference, Mitsubishi demonstrated
its own Java chip, which was being used to run a mobile Java terminal
called the MonAMI.
The JavaOS and similar efforts are in a much earlier stage of
development than other Java-related projects from Sun. However,
JavaOS or some other hardware-based Java solutions should be available
by early 1997.
One of the advantages of a Web-based phenomenon like Java is that
it generates megabytes of information on the World Wide Web. Documentation,
news, source code, and other material about Java is offered at
thousands of sites. The following should get you started:
- http://java.sun.com is
the official JavaSoft site. It offers online documentation, news
on the latest developments, Java software to download or purchase,
and links to other pertinent sites. The Java Developers Kit is
available from this site, and a trial version of the Java WorkShop
integrated development environment can be downloaded also.
is the largest directory of Java applets and Java-related Web
sites. It also offers links to the winners of the Java Cup applet
programming contest, and a chat applet that uses Java to offer
America Online-style discussions.
- http://www.jars.com is
the Java Applet Rating Service, a group that reviews Java applets.
If you see an apple logo accompanying a Java program on the Web,
it has been reviewed by JARS.
is another directory of Java applets that is smaller than Gamelan's
collection. However, a nice collection of Java programs has been
is Apple-flavored Java, a site devoted to Macintosh implementations
of Java development software and Java programs.
is a list of frequently asked questions about Java programming
answered by participants in the Java-related Usenet newsgroups.
is another list of questions about Java. Called the "Unofficial
Obscure Java FAQ," it was established for some answers to
infrequently asked questions about the language.
is the home page of JavaWorld magazine, which puts a lot
of articles, sample source code, and news stories online.
is a section of the Yahoo Directory devoted to Java, with more
than 300 links to Web sites.
Numerous messages are posted on Usenet newsgroups each day by
people who are interested in Java. Some are from developers with
experience in the language who can comment on advanced aspects
of the language. Many are from newcomers who need help in their
efforts to learn Java. In any case, Usenet is a great place to
get technical assistance. (Some other Usenet messages are from
America Online users who have become lost in their search for
pictures of Pamela Anderson Lee, but that's another story entirely.)
The following newsgroups currently are available on Usenet, which
can be accessed with an Internet account, a subscription to online
services such as CompuServe and America Online, and other means:
is a newsgroup for debate and diatribes about Java and other languages
that can be compared to it.
is a moderated newsgroup with announcements related to Java-often
used for company press releases, Web site launches, and similar
- comp.lang.java.api is
a newsgroup for discussion of the Java Application Programming
Interface, the full class library that comes with Java WorkShop,
and other development environments for the language.
is a newsgroup for questions, answers, and other talk related
to Java programming.
is a newsgroup where the security issues related to Java are discussed,
with an emphasis on the security of executing Java applets over
the World Wide Web.
is a newsgroup for the discussion of installation problems regarding
Java development tools and similar issues.
- comp.lang.java.tech is
an advanced newsgroup where technical issues of the Java language
- comp.lang.java.misc is
a newsgroup for everything else related to Java. It generally
is the most active of the newsgroups.
During its first year of release, Java has enjoyed the same advantages
bestowed on child prodigies. Most of the talk has been about its
great potential, and criticism is overshadowed by excited anticipation
about what it will do in the future.
As an example of this, consider the words of Marc Andreesen, himself
a child prodigy of sorts, after creating Mosaic while he was an
undergraduate. Andreesen's endorsement was one of the reasons
for Java's astonishing growth. He said the following at the JavaOne
Java is a huge opportunity for all of us, all the developers in
the industry, who are, all of a sudden, able to develop applications
in days or weeks, instead of months or years; who have new ways
of distributing those applications, making money from those applications
without having to fight for retail shelf space.
One of the applications that has been announced is the WordPerfect
Office Suite. Corel has stated that Office Suite will be redesigned
entirely using Java, making it available for a wide range of platforms.
IBM is redesigning its OS/2 Warp operating system to make it optimized
for Java programs.
The technology venture capital firm, Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield,
and Byers (KPCB), has offered $100 million to support companies
doing work with Java.
Year two is going to be a little tougher on the tyke. If Java
is to remain the object-oriented language of people's affections,
it has to start fulfilling some of its promises.
Growing up isn't always an easy process for those who have achieved
outlandish success early in life. Ask any former child star who
has traded in a Screen Actors Guild card for a life of crime or
a career in talk shows.
By picking up a book of this kind and learning about Java, you're
one of the people who is expected to do something remarkable with
it. The developers of Java, the nation's press, and those of us
who make our living writing Java books by the ton are depending
on you. Not to mention the folks at KPCB who gave up $100 million
of their allowances to fund Java-related programming.
It's one of the prices you pay for being in the right place at
the right time.
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