Dear Java Developers: Told Ya So!

by Jon Davis 13. August 2010 02:59

Well, I suppose I didn’t tell you so, I didn’t knock on every Java developer’s door and say it. But I did say it. To myself. In a soft mumble. LOL.

What I said is that Java is not any more “Open Source” than .NET is. Granted, a huge majority of the open source community such as the gobs and gobs of projects that have been hosted for like ever at are Java-focused. But Java as a platform itself has always been far from open source.

I couldn’t get that Java vs .NET fake movie trailer video. It would have made more sense if it was .NET vs. PHP, Python, or Ruby, but Java?

I could never understand where Java developers got the idea that Microsoft was on this dominating consumption spree to gobble up everything that’s innovative and sue everyone who used their platform, but yet Java was somehow free from all of this. No programming language has set a monetary-loss/gain precedent like Sun set against Microsoft with suing and winning over the language’s platform like Java has. It was this very behavior from Sun that had me rushing away from Java and into the arms of C# as soon as C# was announced.

It should come as no surprise, then, that Java’s owner would now sue again, once again over the use of the platform in a free, open source distribution platform (Android). You’re surprised? Really?

Truth be told, I was surprised, too, at first. I shed a tear for the Java community. (Almost literally.) I genuinely hate this sort of behavior, companies suing companies because what was thought of as an open and free platform was treated as open and free, and meanwhile the company suing has no interest in the “open and free” part and wants to make a buck off every use of the platform. I realize that on the surface it’s naturally every company’s best interest to let every activity be a profitable one. Microsoft giving IronRuby the cold shoulder (they no longer have any full-time maintainers of the project) is another example of this. But I hate all that, I really do. These companies—Microsoft, Oracle, Apple, and Google—really need to maintain strong rapport with their user base if they want to maintain long-term loyalty.

I sold my iPad and set down my iPhone to switch to Android as soon as Apple killed off support for cross-compiled applications. They lost my loyalty for that. I wonder how many other people are in the same boat as me. As for Oracle, bleh! I could never see “Oracle MySQL” or “Oracle Java” or “Oracle Solaris” being word phrases that really went together, they just didn’t work for me, like taking an orange square lego and forcing it on a play-dough ball, just squishy squishy, it doesn’t fit.

I’m sorry, Java, that you must suffer a rude, foul owner and maintainer. Perhaps another, truly open-sourced and open-licensed platform will come about that we can all agree on as being “good”. Perhaps Google’s Go running on Linux is a start. For once, I am seeing great value in the true meaning of “open source” and in the benefits of GPL and other open-source licenses. It’s really a shame that the Java platform didn’t enjoy such licenses up front, but the world will keep turning, life must go on, and we must keep coding, ideally without getting sued!

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About the author

Jon Davis (aka "stimpy77") has been a programmer, developer, and consultant for web and Windows software solutions professionally since 1997, with experience ranging from OS and hardware support to DHTML programming to IIS/ASP web apps to Java network programming to Visual Basic applications to C# desktop apps.
Software in all forms is also his sole hobby, whether playing PC games or tinkering with programming them. "I was playing Defender on the Commodore 64," he reminisces, "when I decided at the age of 12 or so that I want to be a computer programmer when I grow up."

Jon was previously employed as a senior .NET developer at a very well-known Internet services company whom you're more likely than not to have directly done business with. However, this blog and all of have no affiliation with, and are not representative of, his former employer in any way.

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