Jul 13, 2004

Java is again a growing language...

Over at the Java Developer's Journal, there is an interesting article entitled “Growing the Language - Finally” by Karl Avedal. The article discusses how in 1998, Guy Steele presented his “Growing a Language” paper, which he discusses how a language's ability to grow makes it survive, and some potential areas for Java to keep on growing in.

Karl Avedal points out in this article that each version of Java up until 1.2 was a huge difference over the previous versions. Java 1.2, however, was when Java became popular, and people started really depending on it. When people start depending on something, it is harder to keep on making huge differences in each coming version, and since Java was already a general purpose language, Sun's development of Java started to slow down.

This is one area where competing technologies that are not tied to previous compatibility issues can try to work themselves into the market. Not to upset any of the stakeholders, the article argues that Sun seemed not to try to push Java development, but for Java 1.5, this is all changing. There's a lot of great new features, a lot of new speed enhancements, and I know there's a lot more coming after this. It definitely does warrant a name and the 5.0 version tag.

One “feature” that I had not really paid much attention to in Tiger (the codename for 1.5 or 5.0) was the static imports; I agree with Karl that this does not qualify as language feature, and should be implemented outside the language, perhaps using some aspect-oriented programming scheme. Other than this, I am really looking forward to the next version of Java, and the future growth of the language.

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