The nature of the relation I have as a developer is changing with Mac the operating system that I use for development and Java which is currently the language I used second most (could have been #1 but lets not get ahead). I wrote my first Java back in 1998 where I locked myself in a basement to teach myself a programming languge. I started professionally using OS X back in 2003 or so. At the time I was developing J2EE deployed in a JBoss container. So pretty much I have been developing on Mac the last 7 years and Java for 12.
I taught myself Java in college for a couple reasons:
* The compiler was free
* Easier and faster development than C/C++
* Cross platform
All in all I am really happy it gave me a good 10 years of employment and I learned a lot more about software development than if I was focusing on keeping track of seg falts, memory and pointers. Sun slapped an @depricated on Java when it decided to never open source it. Sun and friends controlled the language basically killing the evolution of the language. Even though it did make Java very popular in the enterprise market for new products as well as replacing mainframes. As I saw the companies that control Java (mainly Sun) could send an army of typing monkeys to build their products on. My developer interests were for the language to continue to evolve so that I could maximize productivity and have fun. I think if Java was open sourced a couple years back, then it would meet more of my developers interests. On the plus side my experience with writing Java software means a lifetime of work even though the mindshare of developers is waving good bye (hopefully that is including me).
* Unix, a decent terminal and all the wonderful developer tools
* Hardware support so plugin monitor and it works, or usb drive or projector
* Pretty does matter even as a developer I would rather work on something that is not hurting my eyes
The last couple of years with the Mac has been a lot of fun. Even when I decided to get a Apple laptop I always thought the move was somewhat temporary and that in a couple years the Linux desktop would catch up and I would switch back. OS X was a great transition not only because it solved a lot of the hardware issues like plugging in second monitor just works, a unix shell and the list of Windows issues (most of which still exist on Windows 7) to many to mention. Back in the early 2000’s Apple was providing an attractive option. Even though OS X has stagnated since Leopard was release for obvious reasons of the devices that start with an ‘i’ Apple has been changing its attitudes toward developers. My current running theory is that it has something to do with the fact that they have vendor locked a lot of developers via the iPhone. I do write some mobile apps but I do it on Android (it was not rocket science to predict a much larger market share to Android years ago) and I am mostly interested in web applications. I can’t blame Apple for not caring about the small group of developers who they do not make money off of via iTunes app or will not be making money off of. We ultimately are just a small niche user group with really loud mouths ;). Apple got the boost it needed to get back into the game with FreeBSD and focused on a good product and the succeeded. If Apple sees the future as selling consumer devices and making a cut on the software it is distributing to the consumer what can I say I am envious.
Java on Apple doesn’t matter.
Apple’s future is on devices and software righten in a platform they control which is currently Objective-C. The more they control the market place and the platform the more value they see they are adding for their customer and I guess they can rationalize charging for it? I am not high and mighty I purchased a Wing IDE license because it save me time and ultimately makes me more valuable. I am a believer paying for software (it is nice to eat). Even I think the small amount for the OS X platform was a good deal with all the software it came with. As a developer the more open the platform / language / environment is the more creative and possibilities there are for me to create value. That is why the web is so awesome. Creative freedom seem to have pass by both Java and Apple these days and that is why Java or Apple or Java on Apple doesn’t matter.
What operating system then?
Short answer: I am working on it.
Windows being the master of the closed platform that is not an option. From what I have seen and played with on Ubuntu the platform seem solid and the hardware issues are no worse than on any of the other Linux distros. They have a really great package management system. The Unity UI looks pretty enough for my needs.
What about a programming language?
Erlang sound fantastic for distributed server side coding. I don’t have much need for writing distributed server things like databases. Sometimes I need to hack a little Python web service and maybe a bit more but I really don’t have a use case unless I start hacking databases.
Foo on JVM?
JVM derived language. Really, I mean really? If any of those languages get ported to another VM that is _OPEN_ we can talk until then GOTO @depricated Java.
C# (mono) might not be a bad option for the near term. There is an Android port for mono already http://monodroid.net/ even if the tutorial talks about using it in visual studio this could be a contender. As far as GWT replacement http://projects.nikhilk.net/ScriptSharp S# or script# is the only thing that comes up when I google it. Will this be an open solution for the long term? Will Microsoft decide to do what Oracle and Apple are doing now? I don’t see this as a long term solution because of the risk of it ending up in the same place.
Golang (Go) is the the language I like the most however it is in such a primitive stage. On the plus side the language was created by sponsored by Google and both Android and GWT are basically Google open source projects. As much as I would rather not look to another company academia doesn’t seem to be interested in creating programming language (or significantly contributing to open source projects) for developers like myself who are on the ground.
Filling the vacuums.
The Mac vacuum is a relatively small gap to fill since we (open source community) will probably just need to tweak an existing solution. The Java vacuum is much larger one. Java was successful as a backend tool where I think golang and I get the impression erlang could fill. On the frontend I have noticed that Wing IDE written in Python is so much faster than Eclipse or Netbeans (not that this is news). http://pyjs.org/ is a nice port of GWT to Python which means that Python could be a good replacement for both frontend and backend. I think there is still a need for a statically compiled GUI language.