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Why Should I Bother with Java?

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Not a coffee fanatic? Doesn't matter - if you're a programmer, you've still gotta love Java. Cross-platform compatibility. High productivity. Heavy demand for programming skills. Heck, it's even cheap and easy to learn. In this article, Peter van der Linden points out what makes Java such a desirable programming language.
Peter van der Linden is the author of Just Java 2, 5th Edition(Prentice-Hall PTR, 2002, ISBN 0-13-032072-2).
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Learning a new programming language requires a big investment in time and effort, and you want to be sure it won't be wasted. Why should you spend precious spare time learning about Java? In this brief article, which takes no more than 10 minutes to read, I'll answer that question. I'll describe why large numbers of programmers have adopted Java, where you can best use Java, and when you should stick with C, C++, or Visual Basic. I'll also suggest some free online resources to get you started with the minimum of effort.

Many Employers Want Java Skills

In spite of the dot-com bust, there remains a large demand for Java skills. If you remember Economics 101 (supply and demand), this demand means money for programmers. But don't take my word for Java's popularity: Go to any job web site, search for Java, and compare the results with your favorite other programming language. Just to be certain, exclude JavaScript from those searches. The results speak for themselves about the high and growing demand for Java skills.

When Java was launched in 1995, much of the early buzz was about applets. The browser wars between Microsoft and Netscape soon diverted resources from Java support, and web sites turned to DHTML and CSS alternatives. Lack of high-speed connections (broadband) is another factor. As broadband becomes more popular, so does running programs from a browser. In the meantime, try a variety of Java applet games at Microprizes or see the NASA JTrack applet, which pinpoints the positions of various satellites around the earth in real time. Would you like to be able to develop programs like that?

The focus of Java use has shifted to server systems, and a 2001 survey by Evans Data Corp concluded that Java is used by more than 50% of developers in the world. The same study stated that by the end of 2002 more developers would be using Java than C, C++, C#, or Visual Basic.

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