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By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2002-11-22
 
 
 

Father of Java Sounds Off


James Gosling, the father of Java and a fellow at Sun Microsystems Inc., graced the Software Development Conference and Expo East 2002 with his presence this week, addressing a wide range of issues from Suns software strategy to Web services to embedded Java to open-source software.

Gosling delivered an evening keynote address Wednesday at the show in Boston, but also spent a session with the press answering questions about everything under the sun.

With Web services a hot topic, Gosling addressed the issue and, in the process, gave credit to Sun rival Microsoft Corp. for its stewardship of Web services standards.

"Microsoft is in front of the game right now in that theyve made commitments to standards, and if they honor those commitments it will be good for the industry and for interoperability," Gosling said. "But if you read any of the e-mails from the court cases, its obvious that Microsoft hates interoperability."

Meanwhile, in response to questions from the press corps, Gosling defended Suns software efforts. He said Sun has basically received a bad rap for its support of XML in the Java 2 Enterprise Edition platform. Gosling said that the fact Sun got criticized for lacking XML support was based on a misunderstanding. J2EE 1.3 is out in the market, and "it runs on top of JDK [Java Devlopers Kit] 1.4 that has all the XML APIs in it. So its more a matter of naming," Gosling said.

He said "the Java system is architected to be very modular so you can drop things in."

Gosling later spoke of Microsofts .Net strategy and its Java-like C# language, saying C# and Microsofts memory model around C and C++ is unsafe.

"C# has this unsafe access facility," he said. "The C and C++ memory model strikes a bullet through the heart of Microsofts CLR [Common Language Runtime] strategy."

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C and C++ enable developers to exploit system weaknesses, he said. "You can get around any interface that is intrinsic in C and C++." However, "in Java I took the position that the integrity of interfaces had to be respected," Gosling said. "And that translated to be a big deal in security and reliability."

Gosling said Microsoft has three main things going for it: "easy-to-use tools, an unbelievable marketing budget and a desktop monopoly to exploit."

Gosling knocked todays development tools. Although he said a lot of ease-of-use in the development arena is around tools, "tools is kind of a broad market because the price points have been driven to where its very difficult to drive a profit."

Yet Gosling said very few tools actually help really adept programmers develop software. "If you look behind the back of a developer at work, youll probably notice hes not using some fancy new tool or IDE [integrated development environment], but a text editor," he said. And often that text editor is Emacs, the Unix version of which Gosling created some 20 years ago. He said he is amazed that Emacs has not evolved very much in all these years.

Following his stint with the press, Gosling delivered his keynote on "The Future of Open, End-to-End Software Systems, where he highlighted a few of his favorite Java systems. One was for the Brazilian National Health system, which Gosling said contained "a big pile of Enterprise JavaBeans." He said the system runs on five national server farms that look at 12 million people in 44 cities, he said.

The Brazilian National Healthcare system has about 10 million lines of code, Gosling said, and the organization plans to turn its software over to the open-source movement.

"Its like 10 million lines of code," he said. "I dont know what SourceForge would do with this," he quipped. SourceForge.net is an open-source software repository maintained by VA Software Inc.

(Editors Note: This story has been updated since its original posting to clarify Goslings role in creating Emacs.)

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