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Java forever! 12 keys to Java's enduring dominance

Peter Wayner | Oct. 22, 2013
Haters and hipsters beware: This cross-platform curly-bracket relic never lost its app-dev mojo

It's easy to forget the value of any given technology once its buzz has arced across our collective consciousness and died a fiery death beyond the hype horizon. Take Cobol, that "Mad Men"-era relic — just like fish past its prime, as the hipster tech pundits say: worthless, smelly, out of date, bad for you. Java may be the next enterprise mainstay to find itself on the ropes of "relevance."

The book sales are a distant memory. And Java's middle-age utility is no longer sexy enough for the magazine cover spreads. Nearly 19 years since Java's launch, the application development cognoscenti are wandering around the luring bazaar of Node.js, Objective-C, Dart, Go, and the like, wondering, "Java? Is that Web 1.0 era artifact still here?"

A quick search of job listings says you bet — in a big way. Whereas listings for iOS-related jobs top out around 2,500, Java pulls up more than 17,000 listings. The Dice numbers are far from a perfect measure, but anything suggesting the Java job market may be some seven times larger than that of the unstoppable force of hype in the developer world is not bad for a relic.

Maybe that's because Java offers a better business plan than giving 30 percent of your revenue to Apple off the top and crossing your fingers in hopes that your app makes the top-25 list. Truth is, Java has always tackled a grander problem than helping angry birds get back at some pigs. It's a foundation of a number of platforms, designed to deliver a smooth way for software to run efficiently on more than one chip architecture. That solved problems for the server programmers, client programmers, and embedded programmers all at once.

Before we forget Java's many vital contributions to computing and its role today, here are 12 definitive reasons why Java is not only surviving but actively thriving in its post-buzz existence.

In other words: Don't call it a comeback; Java's been here, dominating, all along.

Key to continued Java dominance No. 1: Resiliency in the face of (often dirty) politics
The tech world never gave Java a shot because its enemies were many and well-armed. Regardless, the language flourished. Many of those surprised to see Java still here have surely spent too much time listening to the haters and not enough time understanding its success.

Microsoft was Java's first big enemy because the company saw it as the most worthy successor to the unity MS-DOS offered. Redmond bad-mouthed Java from the beginning, fighting it tooth and nail. Java never found the traction it needed on the desktop, in part because the magic Java virtual machine took too much time to start up. Despite the tiny delay, Java applications run well enough on Windows to be functional.


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