Gosling on Java

by Charles Miller on August 12, 2003

James Gosling recently weighed into a discussion on Apple's java-dev mailing-list. This is a link to the original emails, and here are a few choice quotes:

On being accused of "not having much to do with Java these days"

Almost everything I write is in Java these days. I mostly work on things other than the compiler or the JDK release.

On being accused of writing Java "so marginally capable developers could get a job:"

This is so damned false I don't know where to begin. I designed Java so I could write more code in less time and have it be way more reliable. In the past I've wasted huge numbers of hours chasing down memory smashes and all the other time wasters that are so typical of what happens when writing C code. I wanted to spend time writing code, not debugging. Life is too short for debugging. All of those little "limitations" turn out to be things that make coding faster and debugging vanish.


One of the design principles behind Java is that I don't care much about how long it takes to slap together something that kinda works. The real measure is how long it takes to write something solid. Lots have studies have been done on developer productivity, and Java beats C and C++ by a factor of 2.

On using a Mac.

I use the MAC because it's a great platform. One of the nice things about developing in Java on the MAC is that you get to develop on a lovely machine, but you don't cut yourself off from deploying on other platforms. It's a fast and easy platform to develop on. Rock solid. I never reboot my machine... Really! Opening and closing the lid on a Powerbook actually works. The machine is up and running instantly when you open it up. No viruses. Great UI. All the Java tools work here: NetBeans and JEdit are the ones I use most. I tend to think of OSX and [should be "as?" --ed.] Linux with QA and Taste.

On the much-maligned (at least by me) object/primitive distinction.

Depends on your performance goals. Uniform type systems are easy if your performance goals aren't real strict. In the java case, I wanted to be able to compile "a=b+c" into one instruction on almost all architectures with a reasonable compiler. The closest thing I've seen to accomplishing this is "Self" which gets close, except that the compiler is very complex and expensive, and it doesn't get nearly all the cases. I haven't read any of the squeak papers, so I can't comment on it.

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