Welcome!

iPhone Authors: Liz McMillan, Aria Blog, Elizabeth White, David H Deans, Christophe Primault

Related Topics: Java, Wireless, SOA & WOA, Open Source, AJAX & REA, Apache

Java: Article

Why Java Is More Relevant Than Ever in the Mobile Age

Java, for all its faults, still provides what most developers need to get ahead in the world of coding

I was programming in C++ for a living when I fell in love with Java.

It was an unintended affair. At the time, I was following a trend with the limited language of C++, which didn't even have operator overloading or templates, but boasted simplicity and the ability to write the code once and run it anywhere (otherwise known as WORA).

But Java came along and changed everything. In fact, despite what most people say about Java in the mobile age, I still find it relevant, useful and an important coding tool going forward.

Java's WORA was much maligned during its early years, but people tend to forget how difficult things were before Java came along. Java was designed as a language of minimalism: There are less ways to accomplish a certain task, but that also makes it easy to go back in and make changes or corrections. With free and open tools, it made tackling the issues of platform defragmentation easier than ever.

Today, we are again experiencing defragmentation - but this time in the mobile space, with every device family moving further and further away from commonality and toward its own family of code. Java, as the most capable language used to support multiple platforms, is the closest thing to universal that developers can rely on.

Historically, tools for cross-platform mobile development in Java were in the $30,000 price range and delivered poor results. This is no longer the case. Tools from several vendors bring Java 5 functionality and native UIs without compromising on quality and ease of use. Companies and organizations such as Oracle, Codename One and XMLVM are bringing out stacks for Java developers to target some of the mobile platforms where Java hasn't been represented, and some of these solutions offer compelling UI options.

The leaders of the current crop of Java-based tools work by translating the Java bytecode to native C/Objective-C code and thus deliver fast native performance on iOS without an interpreter overhead (thus circumventing the JIT restriction on iOS). Some of the tools provide cloud build environments similar to the one provided by PhoneGap, removing the need to own a Mac to build a native iOS application. This allows casual developers who would like to get their feet wet programming to iOS/Android to get on board and leverage their existing Java skills to create native applications.

There are, of course, drawbacks to Java. Unfortunately, there is still no true alternative to it - HTML 5, which is the closest competitor, provides a vastly different programming experience and requires quite different skill sets. Android serves as a heaven of sort to Java developers in which they can easily develop using their favorite language; however, because the Android API is very specific to Android, the WORA aspect for Android only applies to other Android devices. RIM has its own flavor of Java and is working on supporting Android API in future OSs, but iOS/Windows phones don't have a proper alternative to Java developers.

There are several concurrent open source attempts to rectify this situation and restore the WORA aspect for mobile Java. Most of these attempts face an uphill battle since the platforms involved differ to such a great extent it's very hard to create a common ground that doesn't fall into the lowest common denominator approach.

For those who use these tools, make sure to check out their support forums, try out the options, evaluate their results and look through the application galleries. When building a mobile application the most important feature is the support forum - when things don't work, you need help, and in mobile development things can get pretty complicated along the way.

Developers who want simplicity and WORA capabilities in the mobile age may not have a lot of options. But Java, for all its faults, still provides what most developers need to get ahead in the world of coding. As cross-functionality becomes a greater priority for the coders, this baseline language will become the standard bearer yet again.

More Stories By Shai Almog

Shai Almog is CEO and Co-Founder of Codename One. He has been developing software professionally for over 20 years. He started specializing in Java in 1996 and most recently joined fellow veteran software developer, Chen Fishbein, to form Codename One, which allows Java developers to write mobile applications to all devices. Prior to this, Shai formed a consulting firm focused around Java development. Within this company Shai & his employees worked extensively with Sun Microsystems, IBM, Oracle, NTT DoCoMo, Sprint, Verizon, Vodafone, Nokia, Samsung, Major banks, government, institutions, startups and more.

Shai has vast experience in VM internals, UI, enterprise backend and almost every aspect of Java. He has worked on specifying and implementing Java VMs/APIs, building tools, end user applications, sites and much more.

Comments (1) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
pjmlp 01/31/13 09:37:00 AM EST

I fail to see any value in the current set of tools for Java development targeting the main mobile operating systems, because they are still too immature for production code.

Oracle should make ahead of time compilation a standard choice in Java tooling and not something that always force us to look elsewhere.

On the consulting projects I take part on, C++ and C# have taken the portability role for native applications, with HTML5 for the mobile ones.

The train has left the station for mobile Java and if Google decides to offer first class support for their own languages on Android (Dart and Go), then it is really gone.

@ThingsExpo Stories
The Internet of Things promises to transform businesses (and lives), but navigating the business and technical path to success can be difficult to understand. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sean Lorenz, Technical Product Manager for Xively at LogMeIn, demonstrated how to approach creating broadly successful connected customer solutions using real world business transformation studies including New England BioLabs and more.
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, and physical persons. In the IoT vision, every new "thing" - sensor, actuator, data source, data con...
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
WebRTC defines no default signaling protocol, causing fragmentation between WebRTC silos. SIP and XMPP provide possibilities, but come with considerable complexity and are not designed for use in a web environment. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Matthew Hodgson, technical co-founder of the Matrix.org, discussed how Matrix is a new non-profit Open Source Project that defines both a new HTTP-based standard for VoIP & IM signaling and provides reference implementations.
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the industry’s first all flash version of HyperConverged Appliances that include both compute and storag...
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
The 3rd International @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades.
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...