Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Mac Java considered harmful

For the past two months, I've been doing daily Java development on a PowerBook G4. It sucks. Why?

First of all, it's slow. "Well, duh, Java is always slow," squawks the ill-informed peanut gallery. No, as a matter of fact, it's not; runtime performance has gotten to the point where it's comparable with native code on almost every server platform, and I'm not hacking 3D game engines here.

What I mean is that Apple's implementation doesn't compare favorably with Sun's or IBM's. The latest released version of the SDK from Apple is still stuck on 1.5.0_06, which is getting pretty long in the tooth, and the beta download pushes it all the way to 1.5.0_07. The latest from Sun is _11. Also, 1.6 final has been out for over a month now while the Apple beta of 1.6 is months old with no word on updates.

Finally, there's the widely-reported Steve Jobs quote from just after the iPhone presentation (which -- you heard it here first -- will be a huge bomb):

Java’s not worth building in. Nobody uses Java anymore. It’s this big heavyweight ball and chain.
Gee, thanks, Steve. I guess I'll just go shut down those servers running my company's websites.

I know several people are saying he was only talking about the iPhone, but this is a pretty blanket condemnation when he could have said something like "Java doesn't make sense on the iPhone for us". I may have even accepted that prima facie, since client-side Java (outside of J2ME) has been more or less a bust. But combined with the apparent neglect of their Java implementation after extravagant promises on its performance on OS X, this sounds ominous.

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