I'm currently having a blast playing with Smalltalk. I should have taken the time to learn it long ago. I'm sure Smalltalk will help me when it's time to tackle Obj C and Ruby and it is already improving the Java code that I write. Despite those benefits, the real reason I'm finally seriously looking at Smalltalk is because I want to teach my eldest daughter to program with Squeak, Croquet, and Scratch. These are some killer environments - there is a lot of "cool" left in this aging programming language.
It's not just the Ruby guys who have been picking on Java as not being a cool language - it's all those Perl guys. There are a lot of things wrong with Java, but having the Perl guys lecture us on what's cool would be like me telling my wife which shoes to wear with some outfit.
In any case, I think I'm hypersensitive about this right now because I'm trying to recruit cool Java talks for this year's OSCON in Portland. Now that Java is so commonly seen as an important part of many enterprise applications, that is all that folks see it as. I had breakfast last week with Head First Java authors Kathy Sierra and Bert Bates. They are working on a Java Champions project with Sun and Kathy is also on the program committee for OSCON. The three of us ran through a number of open source cool Java projects we'd like to see present at OSCON.
Sure, we're going to also look at the Harmony and Eclipse proposals - but give us something to show these Ruby and Perl folks. Give us something to show them that Java is still a compelling language and programming environment. Submit your cool Open Source Java proposals to OSCON today.
Daniel H. Steinberg is the editor for the new series of Mac Developer titles for the Pragmatic Programmers. He writes feature articles for Apple's ADC web site and is a regular contributor to Mac Devcenter. He has presented at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference, MacWorld, MacHack and other Mac developer conferences.
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