Or to be more accurate ‘Do Google Spreadsheets mean the end of Java as we know it’?
Update: There is a reply to the (many) comments on this blogpost here: Java and those pesky Google API’s
Think about this. Who pays your wages Mr Java-Developer-who-has-just-had-a-couple-of-years-at-the-top-of-the-pile? Clients, or if you’re in a larger organisation , the business folks (i.e.’internal’ clients). Do you think any of them care about Java? Do any of them know what Java is? All they want is to get things done, quickly , and with as few mistakes as possible.
These business people would be happy to run their organisations on Spreadsheets. Do you remember the cartoon where Dilbert convinced the pointy haired boss that he could fly the plane using Excel? There’s more than a element of truth to this. I know of at least one US Fortune 100 company that (until recently) conducted most of it’s operations on little more than Microsoft Office and duct-tape. It worked, not very well, but it worked.
Until now , the next line would be ‘Excel (or any other type of Spreadsheet) is not secure / scalable / sharable / not web friendly’. That was until Google launched their Docs and Speadsheets. It’s an online version of Office with some spreadsheet functionality. Play with it a bit and you’ll see that there’s plenty missing. But this being Google , I’m willing to put good money on
- (a) new features rolled out (think steamroller) and
- (b) These Spreadsheets being massivly scalable / secure / sharable.
This being Google, there is also an API (developer page here). It’s got massive holes in it (e.g. you can’t yet use it to create a new spreadsheet). But when Microsoft bring out their version of online spreadsheets (and they will) not only will they clone the Google API (to get market share), they’ll need to go one further and introduce new features / remove the usage restrictions in order to compete.
So, secure, scalable, sharble online spreadsheets are here to stay. So lets take a look at Mr. (or Ms.) Pointy haired boss thinking about their new project:
- Hmm, I think we need to be able to gather which health plans our employees are enrolled in.
- OK, I’ll throw together a spreadsheet to show people what I want
- Before I’ll give to our friendly Java developer and let him ‘do’ a website from it.
Soon I’ll just share this on Google.
- Great , Loads of people are now using it, I’ll just the (Ruby / PHP / Insert other language here) guy to add one or two extra features.
- Most Excellent. Why don’t we spin this off as a Web 2 company and sell it to EBay??
There you have it, Massively scalable , Highly secure websites (see Google Authentication API), without needing to know anything about EJB, JMX , JBoss, JDBC or any of the hard won knowledge that us Enterprise Java Developers have built up over the last 7-8 years. I’m exaggerating, but not much.
What do you think? Is Enterprise Java dead, or is Web 2 just another boost and a slightly different way of doing things for us Java people?
Some other notes:
- Java is read once , run almost anywhere. The ‘Almost’ is because (for various technical reasons) the difficulty in getting reasonably priced web hosting. Have your tried getting some recently - impossible to find , or at least impossible to find at the prices PHP and Ruby guys can get theirs?
- Tim O’Reilly with was right with the notion of Web 2.0 and the network as a computer. We’ve also written about the notion of online software being at a tipping point.