Forum OpenACS Q&A: Response to A Technical Paper on Java

Posted by Michael Feldstein on
Regarding the issue of the comparison to .NET, I don't think I
expressed myself clearly. I didn't mean to suggest that you write
anything other than a paper on the technical merits. In fact, I
didn't mean to suggest that you change the substance of your
arguments in any significant way. Rather, I was trying to suggest
that the technical arguments--the meat of the paper--could be
framed in a slightly different way.

You're not really arguing that Java (the language) sucks here;
you're just arguing that it sucks at certain tasks that are critical to
the web. Unfortunately, while you do acknowledge the value of
Java when it is used appropriately (i.e., the way that OpenACS
uses it), that message is somewhat lost in this draft.

I'm simply suggesting that you could shift the emphasis from
"this is why we decided not to port to Java" to "this is why we
decided to keep Tcl and add Java in some very specific ways."
The substance of your arguments would not need to change one
bit; only the organization would shift.

I'm also not suggesting that you make the comparison to the
VB/C# thing be the central organizing principle of the paper. You
can leave that reference at the end, right where it is. But if you
focus on highlighting the benefits of judiciously using both Tcl
and Java within the AOLServer environment (rather than simply
taking a defensive stance against 100% Java), then when
readers get to the end of the paper and see the comparison to
.NET, it will have more impact because it will thoroughly reinforce
your main message. It is my (limited) understanding that Tcl was
conceived as a "glue" language in the first place, and that there
was some thought fairly far back (at Sun? Scriptics?) that Java
and Tcl might be a great combination. There's a heritage here
that you can draw on more. By doing so, your comparison should
have more of the impact you are going for, which is (I think),
"We're not the only ones who think that intelligently integrating a
scripting language with a more strongly typed language can offer
web developers the best of both worlds. Microsoft is promoting a
similar strategy as their own answer to pure Java."

Overall, what I'm trying to say is that the current draft comes
across as a defense of Tcl rather than a confident embrace of
both Tcl AND Java in an environment that leverages the
strengths of each. I think you can convey a much more positive
(and more marketable) message without compromising your
focus on the technical merits.

Now, perhaps I'm overestimating your enthusiasm for being able
to draw on Java libraries. If this feature is just a bone you can
throw to those who really love Java, then the approach I'm
suggesting doesn't make sense. But if you really believe that
there is substantial value in having access to Java (and C, or
whatever) in the ways that the OpenACS community has chosen
to do it, then I see no reason not highlight a genuinely balanced