Java… oh Java… (aka “High vs. Low level languages rant”)

I said here (and someone else said that too) that “Java is the new cobol”.
When saying so, I mentioned that En3pY hates Java, here it is another post by him written after I forwarded him this Joel Article (which I read from Scoble, in turn).

All in all, in this case, I tend to partially agree on some points but slightly disagree on others with Joel.

In fact, while I do acknowledge the need of “hardcore” developers to fix and build lower level things and mantain current code (and know WHAT they are doing), there are also many cases where coding in a high level language which abstracts complexity IS actually more efficient and cost effective, not having to reinvent the wheel every time.
So there are a lot of useful and nice programs written by people who DO KNOW what happens under the hood (as good in C as in Assembler), that for simplicity and flexibility run in sandboxes, high level languages, even interpreted ones! An example is Dave Aitel’s CANVAS, written in Python. But that’s just an example.

But I do agree with En3pY that I don’t like Java myself, and I consider it being too “heavy”, in general.
Solution on my side, tough, is that you don’t need C or assembler to get cleaner, smaller, more efficient code, you just need better languages. An example of this is a situation I have been involved in some time ago: in that case a colleague (that works with a very large customer who has a very large exchange deployment) needed to do some performance testing of this Exchange system. He had done the testing from some Windows IMAP clients, but the customer also wanted to see the same performance values measured from a Linux box accessing the same exchange via the very same IMAP protocol.
So I wrote a nice and sweet Ruby script – and at the same time another colleague developer a similar application (in Java).
Result: 45 kilobytes of .JAR to do the same things I did in 20 lines of Ruby (20 lines – including comments!).

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2 thoughts on “Java… oh Java… (aka “High vs. Low level languages rant”)

  • January 3, 2006 at 7:32 pm

    Hiya Daniele. I think mostly Joel’s article is – mostly – about the idea of the programmer itself. Nobody can say Java is not good on Solaris platforms. I am one of those. Java is powerful and technically easy to learn programming language. But the programmer is another story. How many Java programmers knows about and/or use with ease recursion? It is one of the most used topic by Joel. In effect recursion is hard to use, difficult to understand but extremely powerful programming technique. I used recursion myself in many cases, mostly to parse XML files and/or bulding dynamic trees (look at ITVC portal – v2). Recursion is easy for me, as concept, but not as easy as that to apply in a program. Actually I knew few programmers that goes deep in algorythms to understand and/or plan a good work flow. Programming Java is as easy as creating a website with frontpage-like programs. Extreme Programming (as well as Real Coding) is another story. Get used to it. There are programmers that writes killer applications, there are coders that, like sysadmins, drops down codes for system administration and – sorry guys – script kids, that uses objects and methods without having proof concepts about their meaning in the real world (instructions guys, how many of you all know how internal processory is organized?)

    That’s my 10 cents 🙂

    Enjoy – En3pY

  • January 6, 2006 at 6:27 pm

    Thanks for you comment mate 🙂

    I have had an issue with the mail notification so I did not notice your comment was waiting in the moderation queue.

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