Fly me to the moon...let me walk among the stars" or at least America. I am at present sitting in a Continental plane flying over the beautiful Scottish islands, sun beaming in through the window, contemplating the week ahead of me. My destination is Toronto where I will be attending the CFML conference, CFNORTH.
It has been very interesting to watch how the CFML community is reacting to the Java releases. Their responses serve to illustrate the point I have been banging on about for the last few months: outside of the Java community, we still have a long way to go in the education and perception of our beautiful language. Allow me to give you another example of ignorance. As luck would have it, the May issue of the in-flight magazine has an article on Web technologies. This article is, of course, aimed at the masses, but let me give you its paragraph on what JSP is:
Like ASP, a specification that allows a browser to ask the database for information. For example, people play games against each other on the Internet on JSP pages. Advantages: works well behind the scenes. Disadvantages: whereas ASP pages are programmed with PERL, JSP pages are programmed with a very specific set of tools - one for which it may be harder to find expert maintenance.
-Continental, May 2002
Read it? Do me a favor, read it again. What do you think? Not really selling JSP is it? In fact, you would probably get a bad feeling about JSP. As we know, the author is wrong; if anything JSP is the easiest way to get your hands on Java - no compiling, just save and surf! How difficult is that I ask you?
Keep your eyes open. Look outside your Java circle and ask those who haven't the in-depth knowledge you have what their perception of Java is. I think you'll be surprised by the responses.
The CFML language has enjoyed years of success as a server-side application implemented in C/C++. Therefore, the move to the Java platform is a controversial one, raising an eyebrow or two within CFML's loyal user base. The posts by respected CFML people regarding the move to Java are startling; I urge you to check out the official CFML mailing list archives for examples of posts that will send your blood racing.
We have a barrage of posts from people berating Java, claiming it could never be as fast as a native implementation, and it's no wonder CFMX is running slow. I'm assuming these people haven't given CFMX a chance. In our tests, CFMX outperforms the CF5 version running on the same hardware. So where these people are getting their facts from is beyond me.
What has happened is that the old Chinese whispers network has begun. The focus of conversation has moved from CFML to whether or not Java is up to the task. We all know that Java is more than up for the job of serving dynamic content; this was its calling and this is where Java is making serious headway, at the server side.
Although it appears as if we, the Java community, are the only people who really know this for sure. Our message doesn't seem to be getting out there.
There's a huge movement within the CFML community to come to Java and sit at our table to share in the delights we offer. This is wonderful and we welcome and encourage our new developers.
More power to you.
Alan Williamson is editor-in-chief of Java Developer's Journal. During the day he holds the post of chief technical officer at n-ary
(consulting) Ltd, one of the first companies in the UK to specialize in Java at the server side. Rumor has it he welcomes all suggestions and comments.