Java fallout: 2.0 and the FOSS community

Sometimes I just feel the need to post a "me too" about an article I read with a feeling of "that's right, you say it, man!". And trust me, sometimes I just feel the pain which caused a certain journalist to write the stuff. In this case, it's about the best Open Source office-suite, OpenOffice.Org and a proprietary language that's used for a lot of the functionality in the suite, Java.

Now, I've programmed in Java myself and I must say, it's usually quite fast to make something in a working order. Not that you're building nice code or anything, the most crappy code will usually run under Java. Which is nice for new programmers. Indeed, I think that was the reason for my University of Applied Technology to replace their C courses with Java. Java is easy to learn and works almost everywhere.

Although it's nice to quickly build something in a language which has a lot of safeguards not there in a lower generation language like C. Think about the memory allocation and garbage collector. Nice features and especially nice because those little things allow you to quickly build working code. I don't think I can emphasize the quick coding part enough. I'm not a C programmer, mind, but I've tried it a bit and it's more difficult.

But you know, C has one great advantage: It's Open. And Java is not. Being an Open Source Consultant, I feel myself morally challenged when I have to advise someone to use Java. I mean, Java is neat and all, but it's not Open Source and it doesn't look like Sun will ever release it under a proper licence. And that's a problem. Does that make Java any less attractive? No, technically, it's a nice piece of work (whatever the C and Perl hackers say, I think Java is neat). Did I tell you already you can build something nice really fast? I used it as Servlets and it worked perfectly. We made a lot of nice programmes with Java and it helped a lot that we could focus on the functionality we wanted and leave the tidbits to the language interpreter.

But now I'm an Open Source Consultant, and I feel I should not promote an application that uses a proprietary protocol. But then again, I also promote Samba. Where to draw the line? Well, I don't draw lines. I advise about things I know and know well and will solve the problem of the customer. So I will promote as a very viable alternative to the world's de-facto office suite. But I don't have to like it.

In the meantime, I'll keep my eyes open for office suites that are more Open. When those are ready and work like the known office suites, I'll switch my advise.


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