5-min read

Java creator, James Gosling does his part of Flash Bashing

I thought Flash Bashing, these days, are done only by the Internet’s semi-literates! Coming from a respectable person like James Gosling, the creator of Java is rather uncalled for. Nonetheless, it is understandable since his works somewhat relates him to JavaFX (supposedly, a competitor to the client side apps of the Flash Platform). He has all the rights to be on the defensive (rather abusive) perspective towards their extremely successful competitor - Flash.

Redmond Developer News published an interview with Sun Microsystems’ James Gosling, in which they discussed JavaFX and its competition in the RIA space. Gosling shared some pointed thoughts on how he believes JavaFX compares to the Flash / Flex platform.

James said, “If you look at something like Flash, when you get to the much more advanced stuff – richer interfaces, more complex network protocols, more complex APIs – it really falls short.”

Well, I’m more amused particularly with John Dowdell’s response to this particular statement (JD’s response indeed made me chuckle). JD responded in a short blog post and right to the point at James Gosling’s statement;

If there’s a particular network protocol you need, then please let the Player team know. If you think you can do something better, then please ship it.

A followup question, “How will JavaFX be positioned with regard to Microsoft Silverlight and Adobe AIR?”, fails to distinguish between in-the-browser and beyond-the-browser runtimes.

Well, we’ve heard Gosling say this before and I learnt that this was also the common hype at JavaOne last year when JavaFX launched. And any moderate to advanced Flash developers will know that most of these are based on the common misconceptions developers have about what the Flash Player can do.

Kevin Hoyt added that while Java and Flash have been around roughly the same amount of time, Flash has only recently provided a recent networking API. By contrast, Java was created with networking in mind. While there are countless libraries for various networking protocols in Java, there’s really almost nothing in Flash. Even the common protocols such as IRC, NNTP, SMTP/POP, etc. There really needs to be a way in Flash to protect your intellectual property should you decide to commit the time to build and monetize on these opportunities. This would also afford developers the ability to monetize with component libraries, image processing libraries, etc.

On another note, with regards to the UI development, most veteran Java developers admits that building user interfaces in Java too difficult. And with the current look of JavaFX, things aren’t that optimistic when it comes to simplification of Java UI development. Over the years, Sun has introduced a number of frameworks, api’s that promised to improve UI development, but have never made much headway in simplifying things.

James Gosling

James Gosling was honored as an officer of the Order of Canada last February, the second-highest honor for civilians in his homeland. Gosling did his Ph.D. in computer science at Carnegie Mellon University, where he received his degree in 1983. He joined Sun Microsystems Inc. in 1984 and is still there today as a vice president and Sun fellow.

James Gosling is best known as the creator of the Java programming language, its original compiler and virtual machine. A bona fide rock star to Java developers, Gosling still travels the world as the ultimate Java road warrior. He took time out of his busy schedule to talk about his past, the software industry’s future and Sun’s JavaFX initiatives.

Few note worthy excerpts from the Interview;

Q. How did you get interested in computers and programming early on?

A. I always liked to build stuff, and when I was 14 my dad took me on a tour of the University of Calgary. I went to the computer department and it was like love at first sight. And it also had the advantage of – this is going to sound kind of weird – but at the time I was also trying to learn electronics. We didn’t have any money, so finding parts and being able to build stuff was always dumpster diving and was really frustrating. I discovered that I could break into the university and write computer programs really easily, didn’t cost any money. It was kind of a path of least resistance.

Q. How will JavaFX be positioned with regard to Microsoft Silverlight and Adobe AIR?

A. It certainly competes with both of those. I think we have a much broader and more capable API set. We’ve got a much stronger security story and cross-platform story and a really strong performance story. And I think our deliverable will be really nice.

Q. Years ago you commented on C# and the .NET Framework. Do you still feel those technologies are definitely modeled after Java?

A. Oh yeah. You just compare the languages side by side, it’s pretty much a clone. Is an open source strategy something that you think would benefit Microsoft as well? It’s conceivable that it would benefit them. But I have a hard time believing that they’d ever actually get there in any sort of legitimate sense.

Q. It appears that computer science enrollments are down in colleges, with outsourcing and the dotcom problems leading top students to look elsewhere.

A. The high-tech industry today is bigger than it ever was during the dotcom bubble. There are more people on the Internet than there ever were at the top of the dotcom bubble. If you look at the number of people on the Internet, you look at those curves through the bubble years, boy, there was no crash. All that the crash was, was companies with stupid ideas going out of business. Similarly, the whole outsourcing thing has been really blown out of proportion in the press. A lot of the foreign countries that people outsource to have become much less attractive because the dollar had been rising significantly, and we’re getting to a situation where the No. 1 thing driving outsourcing is just lack of talent.

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