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Michael Flanakin's blog Food for thought...

I don't mean to pick on anybody in particular, but I think most developers share this concern: deprecation of functionality. I'm sure that everyone who's been in the software development business for a few years has had to deal with this in one form or another. The reason I wanted to talk about this now is because of the up-and-coming Java Server Faces (JSF) release. And, while I recognize that this isn't necessarily a deprecation of functionality from a Java standpoint, the open source community will most likely be greatly affected. Let me explain...

JSF will be used to implement the model-view-controller (MVC) pattern in applications. Anyone who works with Java web apps knows that the Struts open source project provides this same support. The question is: How much will the open source community support Struts after the JSF release? Now, I don't think Struts will simply drop off the map, but I do think it will take a considerable hit. After its release, JSF will most likely be the focus of initial and/or maintenance development efforts - not because it is better, but because Sun has identified it as the way ahead. The open source community will probably support Struts for those people who chose not to move to JSF, but obviously, with a diminishing user-base, the support for Struts will be greatly affected. Another question is: What the heck is JSF!? Sun hasn't released too much info on JSF, so the developer community has been left in the dark pretty much. Projects can't plan for the future if they don't have a road map. This is one place that Sun has a lot to learn from Microsoft.

Ok, I bet I got a lot of attention there. Now, don't read that last comment as, "Sun bad; Microsoft good." Both companies have their ups and downs, but Microsoft has done a better job of letting its customers know what to expect. Honestly, they've been a little too good. Microsoft updates us so much that it makes them look bad when they can't deliver a complete feature-set on time - which, let's face it, they rarely do. They end up pushing the date back, cutting out advertised features, or even worse, both.

Let's get back at the topic at hand, though. Sun isn't the only one that plays the deprecation game. One of my main concerns about using Microsoft's .NET Framework is that key functionality will be depracated without support. We can't deny that, in the past, Microsoft has chosen to drop technology/software support because of newer versions. And, yes, this is a bad thing, but we also have to look at it from a different light: by not supporting outdated technology, Microsoft is better capable of...wait, let me use a buzz word...Microsoft is remaining agile and will be better positioned to support future technological developments and trends. Over your head? Well, basically, look at it this way: Microsoft basically said, upgrade or die to pre-.NET developers. While they do support older tools and technologies, there is a significant downgrade that cannot be ignored. And, by dumping VB6, for instance, and adopting the new paradigm - namely .NET - Microsoft got rid of an extensive list of bugs, security vulnerabilities, and a number of other programmer hells that Microsoft developers have been dealing with for ages...not to mention they were able to take lessons learned from Java and one-up it. Honestly, if you think about it, .NET is like Java++ :-) Ok, don't tell anyone I said that.

Anyway, let me sum this up: Sun and Microsoft are on two different extremes. Sun, while they will depracate functionality, is more likely to support error-prone language constructs because of Java's user-involved community process and Microsoft will most likely dump it if it doesn't make sense. Here's a hint: if you don't see anything on MSDN for it, be wary of using it. Chances are that Microsoft will be getting rid of it (unless it's a beta, of course). I think that Microsoft is starting to move closer to that ideal middle ground, but who knows when that will happen completely. Honestly, I'd have to say that because Microsoft is willing to do this, they will always have a head-start on Java.

[Original post Sat Oct 04, 08:47:78 PM UTC]

Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 7:22 PM .NET , Java , Development | Back to top

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