Looking For A Cool Java App

After frequently falling into the trap of thinking (and saying) nothing neat comes out of Java, I decided to dig around looking for Java projects that were cool. Most of the stuff I see coming from Java has very boring implications, some are wonderfully powerful, certainly, yet I have not seen anything that makes me say, “ooo.”

Java seems to have a lot of frameworks, I constantly feel that I am stuck jumping through hoops every time I have to use it. Rather than being able to code something fun, 90% of the code is boilerplating, making sure to implement the interfaces, making sure Struts is playing nice with Tomcat, Xalan, Log4J, and the list goes on. Everything I’ve touched in Java has been business, not innovation. I’m tired of frameworks, I want a hack. Ant is useful, but BuildBot is cool.

Some of things I’ve been finding have been on the verge of neatness, close to being something that inspires you to think of new ways to use things, but they haven’t quite made it.

Take Groovy, for example, an interesting idea apart form being yet another mixed language. Yes, it is cool to write Java like Ruby, or Perl like Python, but you aren’t actually going to do it. If you want to write in Ruby, you’ll do it in Ruby without dealing with the hassle of idiomatic inconsistencies brought on by a mixed language; you write Python because of what Python offers, you don’t want to write Perl code in Python. Who even trusts these sort of mixes anyway? Yeah, you get the simple syntax benefits, but as soon as you try to do the cool deep-into-the-language stuff you’re going to hit a wall anyway. Groovy is not cool, but if somebody wrote something to run Python bytecode in Java that would be cool.

The only things in Java I ever see which make me say “ooo” have been scientific visualizations. And yeah, that counts as cool, but in a highly academic sense. Where are the Universal Feed Parsers, the Instikis, or Klingon Source Filters?

Tags: [tag:java], [tag:coding], [tag:programming]

7 thoughts on “Looking For A Cool Java App

  1. i am down with this java s*cks since there are no cool java apps sorry java apologists! frameworks aren’t cool and neither are server side apps unless they are flickr or gmail or things like that and none of these are written in java!

  2. If you want a “cool java app”, try Azureus (bittorrent client). But yes, cool java apps are very rare.

    Java isn’t meant to be cool or fun. It’s meant to be pragmatic. It’s target is large projects, where you have developers with a wide range of skill levels. It does the bondage-and-discipline thing so that experienced developers can let the mediocre members of the team do the grunt work without their mess spilling over into the rest of the project.

    Java fills an important need in the corportate software development world, and fills it well. That’s why big tech companies like Sun and IBM are so fond of it, and why MS had to respond with C#.

    I do Java by day, because it’s the right tool for that environment. For personal projects I use almost anything else.

    P.S. Have a look at Jython. It allows you to run Python code in the JVM.

  3. It’s not quite an app, but a Vancouver firm called Velare essentially hacked something a lot like continuations into Java. So you could write a Java app in an almost Lisp-like manner. Or pick up and resume threads of execution that were weeks old.

    It works by interposing a virtual JVM, that does extra accounting for calls to the real JVM. They claim it doesn’t affect speed much.

    To me that’s a cool hack, but it’s only because it’s subverting the whole Java culture of being deliberately boring.

  4. Looking for cool…go do something in C++, or .net. (Fill in the cross platform pitch). Java is not meant to be cool, though certainly you can goto http://www.java.com and see some cool apps in Java. Java is meant to be correct, reliable and MAINTAINABLE. Even societies have rules. I think this kind of “left-click-right-click-done” mentality is what causes companies to re-write their apps from scratch. But, if you are really looking for cool, like I said, java.com is a good source. And Java is a community process. It allows good ideas to grow and then over time, the best ones remain and are assimilated into the Java process. Its not like MS where code monkeys HAVE TO do what Big Bill says, whether it is sound or not. As time goes by, and as has happened in the past, the best GUI API will emerge, maybe SWING, SWT or something new and be standardised across the board. That will be a good time when you will start to see something “cool”. Agreed Java is hard, but so is doing anything worthwhile. Oh BTW, I forgot tehe coolest Java app I have used, Eclipse. Try and touch that with C++, Python and what not. Harsh.

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