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Server-Side Sweet Spot

There are few genuinely new stand-alone applications being written these days. Most new development is for web systems. Just as comedy is the new rock-and-roll, and gray is this year's black, so browsers are the new user interface to server-based software. Much Java development is therefore on the server in the form of servlets and Java Server Pages (JSP). When you browse the web page, it causes a program to run on the server and send its results back to the browser. These executables replace CGI scripts in a secure, high-performance way. By using server-side programming and delivering HTML to the browser, you can be confident that your back-end applications can be accessed by customers anywhere, using any browser as the front end.

Java is an alternative to the variety of scripting languages that have been modified for the creation of HTML. Scripts are frequently good for quick-and-dirty jobs. If you're writing a script that's less than one page long, Perl is an excellent choice. If you're trying to update a database securely, in a high-performance way, Java is an excellent choice. You get the immediate benefits of the robustness of the language combined with access to the incredibly rich support libraries.

Many PDAs and cell phones are programmed in Java these days, making your skills and knowledge directly applicable. You may not think of yourself as a programmer for embedded devices, but Java opens those job opportunities to you.

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