Java to Support More Languages ?

This is the headline in Darryl Tafts eWeek article about the latest trends in Java on page D6 of the August 14 , 2006 issue. Lets be clear – Java already supports a huge array of languages. There are three principle interfaces into Java:
1)the JNI API provides for low level hand off between Java and any other language that supports appropriate calling onventions. Despite the cost of less portability, a number of notable Java apps use this interface;
2)Java supports XML and Web Services through a number of APIs allowing not only local and remote calls on other routines developed in programming languages which support Web Services; but also allows for the ready exchange of data between such systems;
3)JDBC-Java DataBase Connections have 4 types of methods to pass database data and objects very efficiently between systems.
In addition, there are a huge number of programming languages that use the JVM – they emit code and many support the full array of J2SE APIs. Go to this Frankfurt Germany website to see the list, description and links of the dozens of languages that support the JVM.

In addition, In Java 6, the next or Mustang edition of Java, Sun has added direct API support for JavaScript. So the question of whether Java supports enough languages is a bit of a red herring.

A More Basic Storyline

What was more interesting was the fact that Sun planned in the following edition, Java 7 named Dolphin, to add suport for a number of other scripting languages like Ruby, Python and Basic. Oops …. Basic ? read what Sun VP Graham Hamilton had to say: “The Java language is a great language. There are other language styles out there. Some people like using scripting languages such as JavaScript, some people like using dynamic languages and some people like Visual Basic. [paraphrased by Darryl] What the company is not trying to do is is clone any specific version of Visual basic. Sun is attempting to support common VB.NET features on the Java platform.[end of paraphrasing] If you are familiar with VB.NET, this will be a very easy-t0-learn language for you”. Darryl then called the whole project a Basic implementation that Sun is working on.

So the next version of Java will be Basic.

Okay, okay – so I exaggerate – the version after next of Java will include a Basic language derivative that sort of looks like VB.NET but not completely, well sort of. Holy Bill Gates – Steve Ballmer – Scott McNealy – Jonathan Schwartz and the Sun/Microsoft Alliance !!! What hath the software gods/gogs wrought ?

Lets see – isnt Java Studio Creator supposed to be Javas Visual Basic “killer”? What does Sun think of REAL Softwares REALbasic which runs on Windows, Mac and Linux right now? Apparently, not much – perhaps if it ran on Solaris, Sun might change its tune. What about MainSofts Visual MainWin which translates .NET C# and VB into JVM and J2EE compliant code ? What about …

Okay, I concede that the Microsoft Visual Fred community, a not insubstantial part of the Visual Basic fold including some Microsoft MVPs and former Redmond VB implementors – they are mad as hell and not taking it anymore. These defectors do not like the way that Visual Basic has been short-changed in the 2 most recent Visual Studios and the .NET world in general. And there is no doubt that VB.NET does requires VB6 and earlier developers to do major, painful conversions and relinquish a lot of VB convenience for the sake of OO-Object Oriented purity. So there is large disaffection in the Visual Basic ranks and files.

But does Sun want to walk into that minefield ? Is the opportunity to capture disaffected VB coders over to the Java/Vb side that obvious and clear ? Will the wait for at least two more years before Java/VB 7 appears lose the disaffected ? Is the VB model that much better for ease of development/coding ? And will Sun be able to pull the sublime – making difficult and rigorous OO simple ? Many have tried and gone Delphi. Is this prudent use of Suns limited software development cpital dollars ?

Stayed tuned because this is Basically Reality-on-the-Loose, a not dull story.

(c) JBSurveyer 2006