Welcome!

Wireless Authors: Liz McMillan, Avi Rosenthal, Elizabeth White, Trevor Parsons, 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 BPM world is going through some evolution or changes where traditional business process management solutions really have nowhere to go in terms of development of the road map. In this demo at 15th Cloud Expo, Kyle Hansen, Director of Professional Services at AgilePoint, shows AgilePoint’s unique approach to dealing with this market circumstance by developing a rapid application composition or development framework.
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data a...

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...

SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard 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. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada. Our partner network encompasses some 300 of the world's leading systems integrators and security s...
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.
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa, at more than US$500 billion, and ranks 23rd in the world. A recent re-evaluation of Nigeria's true economic size doubled the previous estimate, and brought it well ahead of South Africa, which is a member (unlike Nigeria) of the G20 club for political as well as economic reasons. Nigeria's economy can be said to be quite diverse from one point of view, but heavily dependent on oil and gas at the same time. Oil and natural gas account for about 15% of Nigera's overall economy, but traditionally represent more than 90% of the country's exports and as...
The Internet of Things is a misnomer. That implies that everything is on the Internet, and that simply should not be - especially for things that are blurring the line between medical devices that stimulate like a pacemaker and quantified self-sensors like a pedometer or pulse tracker. The mesh of things that we manage must be segmented into zones of trust for sensing data, transmitting data, receiving command and control administrative changes, and peer-to-peer mesh messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ryan Bagnulo, Solution Architect / Software Engineer at SOA Software, focused on desi...
"At our booth we are showing how to provide trust in the Internet of Things. Trust is where everything starts to become secure and trustworthy. Now with the scaling of the Internet of Things it becomes an interesting question – I've heard numbers from 200 billion devices next year up to a trillion in the next 10 to 15 years," explained Johannes Lintzen, Vice President of Sales at Utimaco, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"For over 25 years we have been working with a lot of enterprise customers and we have seen how companies create applications. And now that we have moved to cloud computing, mobile, social and the Internet of Things, we see that the market needs a new way of creating applications," stated Jesse Shiah, CEO, President and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
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...
Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops using a visual drag-and-drop application – and eForms-buildi...
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
Code Halos - aka "digital fingerprints" - are the key organizing principle to understand a) how dumb things become smart and b) how to monetize this dynamic. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Brown, AVP, Center for the Future of Work at Cognizant Technology Solutions, outlined research, analysis and recommendations from his recently published book on this phenomena on the way leading edge organizations like GE and Disney are unlocking the Internet of Things opportunity and what steps your organization should be taking to position itself for the next platform of digital competition.
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.
As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP's Printing and Personal Systems Group, discussed how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, sensors, social, and ...