Making a return to the fields of Java
So we've managed to get the go ahead at work on what seems like it should be a nightmare project: We're going to re-examine, re-design, and re-implement our in-house web app platform, the Toybox. Not only that, but we're going to switch languages, from Perl to Java. It's got me immensely excited, though this may be naive of me.
It's been years since I was last knee deep in Java, and years that I've spent up to my ears in Perl. I'd almost forgotten how much of Java I'd reinvented to make my ideas work in Perl. (This may not be so much an indictment of Perl as of the way I think.) And the last time I worked seriously in Java, there were no IDEs yet, so starting to work with NetBeans or even Project Builder under OS X for Java work is a dream. I love using NetBeans in particular, occasional hiccups aside. Besides all the obvious integration of build, test, run, debug, etc, I love being able to highlight a keyword or class name and pop up the docs in an internal HTML browser. I love that it makes suggested changes to classes when I change an interface they implement.
Yeah, none of this is news to most of the world, but I've been steadfastly sticking to shells and bare emacs or pico for my editing. Maybe a web browser handy for docs. I haven't worked very much with IDEs these past years, since a lot of them just got in my way. Or at least, with hubris, I thought that they did. Then again, I don't see very many equivalent tools for a language as free-form and multiple choice as Perl.
And, though I miss CPAN, I'm loving resources like the Jakarta project over at Apache. Again, not news, but new to me. I feel like a Rip Van Winkel-Java over here, since my last real work in Java was when the API was in 1.0 days, Servlets were this neat thing for the Java Web Server (now at the end of its life), and the dot-com boom was just starting to stretch its wings.
Now, I haven't been completely oblivious to Java over this time. I've poked at it, and played with a few things from time to time to at least stay somewhat current, and I've tried to vaguely keep up with things a bit. I have an overall sense of what does what and where to find what, but really getting it under my fingernails again now is a different experience.