Here are a few things I’ve noticed about Java in the tech press over the last few years.
- There are a few really great providers of Java coverage – http://www.infoq.com, http://www.dzone.com, and http://www.theserverside.com. Note: If I left some publication off of this list, it probably wasn’t intentional, I see good things from JavaLobby, but it just isn’t something I read regularly, which leads me to my next point…
- Java coverage has been deemed “irrelevant” on a number of social-news-voting platforms. Try to post a Java-related story on Reddit or some YCombinator site and you’ll just attract a sea of downvotes. The only general technology site on which Java stories gain traction is Slashdot. I think this is generational – sites like Reddit are a bit younger than the general Java audience.
- Java coverage tends to be mixed, very heavily with “enterprisey” announcements. This is true on both InfoQ and TheServerSide (and I don’t fault them for this, both organizations must find a way to make money). But, very often these enterprisey announcements play right into the hands of people who are cynical about the platform. The net result: if you judge Java by tech press coverage, it is easy to conclude that it is just a series of super boring vendor announcements.
- There are a handful of good Java-related podcasts out there: http://javaposse.com and http://basementcoders.com/ podcast among them. I’m sure there are more, and I’m not purposefully leaving any of them out, this is just the list I follow. * There is no “clearing-house” for Java-related news. Instead there are several, somewhat disconnected sites providing good coverage (see above). All of these sites try to be the “one place” to cover Java topics. What does this mean: *it’s difficult for people that don’t track every little detail to understand what’s happening (or what is worthy of attention)*.
- There is no “clearing-house” for Java-related open source projects and activities. Instead there are disconnected islands on unrelated planets. Eclipse, Apache, java.net operate like different worlds and even the communication within these organizations is muted. Github is out there providing thousands (tens of thousands, millions? Who knows?) of little Java-related open source projects and forks that form a huge sea of OS activity.
*No one can keep up, and there is no unifying open source Java ‘culture’ to speak of.*
This jumble of news sources coupled with a lack of cohesion among the various outlets makes it very easy to discount Java as a community in comparison to communities like Rails or MySQL. It also makes it difficult to market “Java books” – no one buys Java books any more, just like no one walks into a bookstore to purchase a C++ book. Once a technology becomes so ubiquitous it is no longer something that can direct attention. J
ava’s too big to treat as a single “topic” as it encompasses such a wide swath of the industry. Instead of focusing on “Java” as a technology to be covered, it makes more sense to start focusing on specific niches within Java. “Java Web Development” , “Java Database Integration”. But even this isn’t enough, Java has become a polyglot platform, so a technology site that covers “Java Database Integration” is going to end up having articles on Ruby, Scala, as well as ORMs like Hibernate and iBatis.
A conference on “Open Source Java” is going to end up having sessions that start breaking these synthetic boundaries. I’m starting to think that the proper answer to “How would you cover Java?” is to say, “I’m not even sure you can cover Java, it isn’t really a topic it is now shorthand for the JVM and every language you can run atop it.”