Matt RaibleMatt Raible is a Java Champion and Developer Advocate at Okta.

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Over 10 years ago, I wrote my first blog post. Since then, I've authored books, had kids, traveled the world, found Trish and blogged about it all.

The future is now -- Java development in 2008

In The future is now -- Java development in 2008, Andy Glover writes:

The year 2007 was full of exciting plot twists, punctuated by growing excitement about dynamic languages, the open source evolution of the JVM, and the rise of Google as a strategic contributor to the Java community. The question is, what does all that tell us about the year ahead?
And so, despite some rumors to the contrary, I would argue that Java isn't going anywhere but up in 2008. Rather than peer into a crystal ball and try to divine the future, let's reflect on the major events and trends of the past year. Taken together, they reveal all we need to know about what's ahead in 2008.

He concludes the article with:

An African proverb states that Tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today. Thus, the future of Java (at least for the next year) has already been brewing for some time. The events of 2008 will largely be shaped by the JVM itself, as languages like JRuby and Groovy grow in popularity and eventually gain enterprise-wide adoption. The promise of using Java to develop consumer mobile applications also seems more accessible than it has for some time, given Google's foray with Android and Sun's with JavaFX Mobile. Most of us will also be concerned with leveraging the emerging multicore systems and looking to Java 7's java.util.concurrent packages for answers. Lastly, open source Java and the business model surrounding it will continue to grow.

I agree that learning about JRuby and Groovy is a good way to be prepared for the future. Reading Ola Bini's Practical JRuby on Rails Web 2.0 Projects and/or Stuart Halloway and Justin Gehtland's Rails for Java Developers seem like good ways to get started with JRuby. With Groovy, Groovy in Action has received a lot of good reviews. For Grails, it's a bit more difficult as it's evolved so quickly w/o any updated books. I like the look of Scott Davis's Groovy Recipes, but that won't be released until March.

One thing to note: just because you learn these languages and frameworks doesn't necessarily mean you'll find a new job doing them. In my experience, there's still way more Java jobs than there is Rails or Grails jobs. I sat on a Consulting Panel last night at Denver's Ruby on Rails user group (DeRailed) and this was confirmed (at least for Ruby) by the recruiters on the panel. There were three recruiters and combined they've only seen 2 Rails positions in the last 6 months.

So if you're looking for a new job, I doubt you're going to find one that allows you to leverage your new-found JRuby/Groovy skills out of the gate. However, I do believe you can leverage these tools in your existing jobs and hopefully make your development life more efficient.

Posted in Java at Jan 25 2008, 09:03:18 PM MST 5 Comments

That is interesting. From where I sit, I get pinged about Rails developers on an almost daily basis. I could place about 20 right now.

In fact, if you want to do Rails and you are in the bay area or Chicago, let me know! :)

Posted by Dion Almaer on January 25, 2008 at 11:40 PM MST #

Hi Matt! We have openings for 2 Rails developers if Dion hasn't placed them all yet. :-)

Posted by Stuart Halloway on January 26, 2008 at 01:14 PM MST #

Obviously, my experience with Rails jobs is local to Denver. My theory (as stated at the DeRailed meeting) is that there aren't many Rails positions going through recruiters because most Rails developers are being hired by companies and there's really not much of a "contractor's market" per se (yet).

From talking to folks at the local DeRailed group, folks are having a hard time finding Rails developers - it sounds like you guys are seeing the same thing. The one thing that many Rails developers at the meeting were frustrated with is the pay for a Rails developer. Since they're former Java Developers, they're used to high wages and they aren't seeing the same thing in Rails. I'm sure you guys offer good rates, but are they higher than the same rates for Java devs in your area?

Of course, you're going to say your rates are better - but good rates are mostly about networking and I know you both are very well connected. ;-)

Posted by Matt Raible on January 26, 2008 at 01:20 PM MST #

Substantiated only by the number of rails position posts at places like 37 signals and Ruby Now, maybe the reason the derailed panel recruiters haven't seen many rails positions is because folks savvy enough to make the switch are also competent enough to avoid head hunters like the plague they are to staff in the software industry.

I do like Matt's observation that the tide will really turn when folks begin to push the change from within their existing positions. The inertia of many years of java framework implementation will make this a long hard slog tho.

Posted by Tony on January 26, 2008 at 06:50 PM MST #

The thing with new technology like JRuby and Groovy and pretty much everything else is that large companies (such as the one I'm working for now (or, have been working for during the last 20 weeks, 3 days remain) simply cannot trust in them right away. With Java webapplications spanning thousands+ of classes, taking years and years to develop and maintain, it's simply not worth the gamble to adopt a new technology.

I've been working on a project during the last period, and the regular employees here all envy me for being able to use new technology - Java 1.5, Spring, Hibernate, Appfuse ( ;) ), Prototype, etcetera.

Newer companies and smaller projects may at least try new technologies if they're applicable to the situation, but as long as stuff like Groovy doesn't seem useful in large enterprise applications, you won't be seeing job positions for a Groovy programmer (or w/e).

It's more useful (and easier) to get a job as an experienced Java / J2EE programmer and then, if you know enough about Groovy or JRuby or whatever, attempt to integrate it into your new work place - that is, if it's useful. You'll need some proper argumentation to get it there though - improvements in development time, flexibility, speed, etcetera. Basically, you'll have to convince The Boss that they'll make it cheaper for him, and imporve the quality of the projects.

(Also, I suck at calculating 8 + 33 :(.)

Posted by Yop on January 28, 2008 at 07:44 AM MST #

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