Aug 102012

What if you could go back to the days of Windows 1.0 and influence Bill Gates to build Windows just the way you wanted it? I can’t actually help you change the past, but I can give you the chance to influence the future. If you have the time to send me a short E-mail, you can join with me to help shape the direction of the Java platform.

This ombud’s for you. Here’s how it works. I’m going to act as your ombudsman. You tell me what Java needs to grow into a robust, dependable, cost-effective enterprise platform (my “starter set” is listed below). I will deliver your consensus opinions to Scott McNealy (Sun Microsystems’ CEO), Eric Schmidt (chief technology officer) and Alan Baratz (president of the JavaSoft subsidiary). After I gather their responses, I’ll report back to you here.

Java is going to be part of our future. Rather than wait passively for it to arrive–and then complain about it–let’s be proactive this time.

The cup runneth over.

Along with the excitement about Java, there’s also a lot of confusion. Java has become a container into which the technical community pours all sorts of different definitions. First and foremost, Java is a language related to C++. However, the word also is used to refer to a “virtual machine,” a fictional processor that is emulated on different platforms (so that Java code will run identically on all of them).

Java also has many derivatives. There are “Just-in-Time” Java compilers, which compile portions of the Java code into native instructions on the fly. There is Java Beans, an object architecture. There’s also JavaOS, an operating system that executes Java instructions natively. In other words, Java is evolving into a complete platform. Let’s make sure it gets built right. Herewith, my starter set of five areas that need improvement:

1. Open says me. Remember when Scott McNealy toured the world, alternating snide remarks about Bill Gates with arguments that Windows should be in the public domain? Now he has a platform that (he hopes) can replace Windows. How can he do any less than what he demanded of Bill? JavaSoft should turn over the Java API to an open, neutral standards committee.

2. Cache as cache can. Why should we download the identical applet every time we need it? Java needs better methods for local applet caching and versioning.

3. Safety patrol. Better authentication and verification.

4. Put it to the test. An independent testing facility to verify that Java applets meet specifications and that they interoperate correctly with other applets, plus a logo that lets customers know which products have passed the test.

5. Tool time. Better tools. I have some ideas, but I know you’ll have much better ones.

What else do you want? Send an E-mail to the address below. For those of you who stack PC Week in a corner and go through a month’s worth at a time: no responses after Nov. 15, please. That’s when I’ll be gathering your opinions together and sending them on to the Java execs. You’ll hear back from me a few weeks after that.

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