A story of Java's improbable return to prominence

By on September 26, 2013, 7:00 PM

General-purpose programming language Java was lauded as the next big thing a decade or so ago. As I can attest to, it was being taught as an entry-level programming course at colleges across the country and billed as the platform to beat with regards to app development – both on the PC and cell phones.

Things didn’t exactly play out as many had hoped, however. A string of security bugs and overall poor decisions from creator Sun Microsystems led to what LinkedIn principal staff engineer Jay Kreps described as some annoying thing that really outdated websites try to make you download.

You’d be forgiven to think that Java is dead in the water. Truth be told, it’s very much alive and well and has remarkably become the primary foundation for some of the web’s largest and most ambitious operations. This is one such story.

During the summer of 2010, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stopped by Twitter headquarters in San Francisco on his way to meet with Google CEO Eric Schmidt. As you can imagine, it was quite the media circus at Twitter headquarters and on the service, especially when you factor in that the World Cup soccer tourney was going on in South Africa at the same time.

All of that combined was just too much for Twitter’s infrastructure. Its engineers simply couldn’t keep the site up and running for any considerable amount of time. With Medvedev set to post his first ever Tweet during the headquarters tour, Twitter couldn’t fail with so much press on hand.

The Russian president’s Tweet, “Hello everyone, I’m now on Twitter and this is my first message,” was pushed out live, the site held firm and nobody was the wiser. Of course, only those behind the scenes at Twitter knew the Russian president didn’t actually use Twitter to send out his message that day.

Instead, the team built a separate service for him to Tweet from just to make sure things wouldn’t crash. That service used Java. The whole incident served as a major turning point for Twitter as they quickly realized they needed to rebuild the service from the ground-up using… you guessed it, Java.




User Comments: 16

Got something to say? Post a comment
treeski treeski said:

Interesting, but I'll be honest... I expected more about Java's return to prominence.

Guest said:

I wonder if Madonna would use Java to shop online for Tibetan dumbbells, would that help bring attention to an old, bloated, virus-biten corpse of a programming language that was invented as an excuse for extreme salaries of bank software coders.

JC713 JC713 said:

Wow I thought Java was dead. I guess not.

RzmmDX said:

Expecting Java to not crash in an applet?

HA...

But some java physic applets were pretty cool.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

Ignorance...

Java Applets are dead. Java server-side, you know the stuff that goes on behind the scenes of websites, is flourishing.

Facebook, twitter, League of Legends, ebay, you name it they're probably using Java in some way.

OortCloud said:

This article feels unfinished....interesting anecdote, then back to why Java has risen back to prominence.....hmm I seem to be at the bottom and there's no page 2....

Wagan8r Wagan8r said:

I wonder if Madonna would use Java to shop online for Tibetan dumbbells, would that help bring attention to an old, bloated, virus-biten corpse of a programming language that was invented as an excuse for extreme salaries of bank software coders.

Clearly, you have no idea what Java is...

Wow I thought Java was dead. I guess not.

Not even remotely. It's the most popular programming language, followed by C/C++.

OortCloud said:

Java's biggest weakness is it shares it's name with and gets mistakenly associated with the abomination that is java script .

Guest said:

Since over a decade, I am busy helping companies, of a broad variety of industries, with their Java based software development needs, for their business applications and services. I guess I was, and still am, under a very big and comfortable rock, never noticing I seem to be practicing hardcore necromancy all this time. O.O

In all seriousness, from my experience and perspective, saying Java is dead, or a relic from the 90s, is quite the facepalm.

lipe123 said:

One word: minecraft.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I wonder if Madonna would use Java to shop online for Tibetan dumbbells, ...[ ]....
No, I think Madonna uses "Tibetian Dumbells" as backup singers, and of course, the job would require an audition.....

Er....., "Go Java"....!! (Just trying to keep this on topic)

JC713 JC713 said:

Not even remotely. It's the most popular programming language, followed by C/C++.

It is definitely not the most modern language, but it is still a great versatile language.

Railman said:

Ignorance...

Java Applets are dead. Java server-side, you know the stuff that goes on behind the scenes of websites, is flourishing.

Facebook, twitter, League of Legends, ebay, you name it they're probably using Java in some way.

Java is also used in conjunction with Oracle. The accounting and payroll package used at my work being an example.

Gumpngreen Gumpngreen said:

It's easy to prove Java isn't dead: Android.

Guest said:

Nice info.........:)

jobeard jobeard, TS Ambassador, said:

Not many programmers commenting here :sigh:

Java has the attribute 'Write it once, run it anywhere' -- well sort of.

The JRE is specific to the Platform and the OS. The 'run anywhere' assumes you are willing to at lease recompile the sources for the target environment (but that's far better than supporting new code for each environment).

Given the correct JRE and a recompiled jar file (that's how Java applications are delivered),

the programmer can move the application from Mac, -> Pc, -> Linux.

You need to understand that smartphones need touch behaviors, and thus moving (or porting) from a desktop

to a cellphone will absolutely require some rework, and thus instantly break the 'run anywhere' feature.

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.