It's not often you get to write an end-of-the-millennium column (once every thousand years, last time I checked). I thought that a little reminiscing about the past few years might be in order, followed by a brief look in the crystal ball to see what we have in store for you in the next century.
The first time I saw Java, it was 1996. Back then, few could imagine the impact this small, object-oriented language would have on the world. I was working in several 4GLs at the time and didn't immediately see the value of write once, run anywhere. As you can see, I've come around.
Java grew, slowly at a rapid pace. Sounds goofy, but when you think about it, it's taken years to get to where we are today, even if it seems that a new API or specification is released each week. We're in our third release of Java, counting 1.0, 1.1 and 2.0. We've overcome an inefficient event model and an ineffective GUI toolkit. We can now write good-looking applications that will run anywhere.
We've also come to the realization that Java is a good language for writing distributed applications, particularly the server side of things. Java 2 Enterprise Edition, with EJB, JSP and HTML, have made it possible to build fairly complex apps that require no client resident code.
Some things haven't worked out, such as the JavaOS and some of the thin-client Java hardware. But even that has had productive results, pushing vendors toward a Web-based model while contributing to the market competition that eventually drove down the price of PCs to a level that the average household can afford.
Java Developer's Journal has also grown through the years. Last year we presented our first Editor's Choice Awards to the vendors we thought created the finest products for Java, whether development environments, application servers or end products. This year we expanded that with our Readers' Choice Awards, in which you, our readers, were able to select your favorite products. We even spawned a new magazine, XML-Journal. And we launched the JDJ Store, a place where Java developers can go to get the lowest prices on Java products (come visit us!).
And now it's time to look into the future. Java continues to improve and expand. I expect Jini to languish for the next year, then suddenly pick up steam as vendors begin to release products that support it. Ideally, Sun will make some arrangements with strategic hardware vendors to include this API as part of their support list.
I also expect to see Java make inroads onto portable devices. Some version of Java will have to appear on the PalmPilot. Phones and other tools will converge, and Java will be an important part of providing key services on these devices.
The rise of the Java Application Server will occur in the next year. Already we're seeing vertical products such as trading engines built on the Java 2 Enterprise Edition specification. This will continue, as vendors and ISPs have seen that the EJB approach is easier and more powerful than CORBA or DCOM.
Expect XML to play an increasing role in your Java future. This metalanguage is growing by leaps and bounds. Expect to see more parsers, new editors and perhaps even alternative serialization of classes via XML.
JDJ will also be busy in the future. Plans are underway to create a JDJ Laboratory to test various products and provide head-to-head comparisons. We expect to have the lab operational early in 2000, and are planning to showcase its power with an application server showdown featuring some of the best app server products on the market. We'll also be doing other types of product reviews in a comparative manner.
I expect that the Y2K lockdown that's been in place for the past few months will be removed after we go through January. Most companies are prepared; few will have disruptions. And all of that energy that's currently on hold will be spent addressing Web-based development. It will be a great time to be in the industry.
So as the year, the decade, the century and the millennium all draw to a close, we here at Java Developer's Journal wish you and your loved ones a happy, healthy and productive New Year. As always, thank you for making JDJ the number one Java magazine.
Sean Rhody is the editor-in-chief of Java Developer's Journal. He is also a principal consultant with Computer Sciences Corporation, where he specializes in application architecture - particularly distributed systems.
He can be reached at: [email protected].