Java and SUVs

By Deane Barker on September 22, 2003

Java is the SUV of programming tools: You may not be able to get to this link because Harvard is getting hammered by people trying to read this.

“After researching how to do bind variables in Java, which turns out to be much harder and more error-prone than in 20-year-old C interfaces to relational databases, I had an epiphany: Java is the SUV of programming tools.

A project done in Java will cost 5 times as much, take twice as long, and be harder to maintain than a project done in a scripting language such as PHP or Perl. People who are serious about getting the job done on time and under budget will use tools such as Visual Basic (controlled all the machines that decoded the human genome). But the programmers and managers using Java will feel good about themselves because they are using a tool that, in theory, has a lot of power for handling problems of tremendous complexity. Just like the suburbanite who drives his SUV to the 7-11 on a paved road but feels good because in theory he could climb a 45-degree dirt slope.”

One of the comments makes a great point:

“I agree wth Vadim. C#/.NET is very much like Java/JVM and, if it was Java itself that is an SUV, C#/NET would have many of the same SUV qualities.

The difference is tool support. MS did a great job designing and integrating ASP.NET, which is just a web application framework, into VS.NET. And since there is only one vendor, everyone knows about and uses that tool. Plus it’s really well polished and what not.”

Say what you want about Visual Basic or .Net or whatever Microsoft product irritates you the most — Microsoft’s IDEs have made their languages fantastically successful. Visual Basic is where it is today in large part because of the visual forms designer.

Another great point from the comments:

“You are confusing Java programming language and whole stack of java APIs SUN offers for enterpise web programming. Your subject should say ‘J2EE is SUV of programming tools.’”

I rather liked coding Java class files that ran from the command line. It was even fun. But once you threw all the Web infrastructure stuff into the mix — Tomcat and servlets and EJBs and everything else — I got very miserable very quickly.