Debunking Bruce Eckel

By now everyone must have read what Bruce Eckel had to say about Java (or rather, about Java enthusiasts) on Artima, especially after the article was picked up by Slashdot yesterday. I must confess I read the article several times, and I still don’t see how Bruce’s comments lead to the conclusion that Java enthusiasts have moved to something else. Let’s recap:

  • According to him, Bruce Tate wrote a book called Beyond Java, which is more a book about how cool is Ruby compared to Java; then Bruce (Eckel) goes to criticize the contents on the book and how everything is said twice and how the author condemns other languages just for not being Ruby. This is clearly a mistake according to him, but somehow this validates that Java enthusiasts are gone?
  • Then, he tells us how Martin Fowler has moved to Ruby (from Python, not from Java) and how Martin criticized Java’s List implementation (an argument he also refutes by mentioning LinkedList).
  • He then mentions a Harold fellow, who criticized Ruby’s list library design, only to get flamed by "howls of protest at Harold’s opinion". This is where he thinks the hyper-enthusiasts are now in Ruby, based on the "faith-based flavor" to the comments. So, because Ruby has hyper-enthusiasts now, they must have migrated away from Java? I guess you can only have a constant pool of hyper-enthusiasts at a given time.
  • After that he goes to ramble about how Ruby is better than Python, even though it seems to have some bastardizations from Perl. He praises Rails and makes it responsible for a lot of (Python) programmers deserting over to Ruby. He thinks Ruby (and Rails) is making contributions to the programming community, and thinks he will actually try Java-on-rails to make web applications. Wait, isn’t part of a hyper-enthusiast community the fact that there are people who see an innovation and bring that innovation to his preferred language? Doesn’t the fact that people are working on a Rails-alike implementation for Java imply that enthusiasts are still here?
  • Lastly, he mentions how people moved from C++ to Java never to look back, but now people are rather trying to improve Python instead of going all the way to Ruby. He finishes his long "dissertation" with these words: "I think we’ve mostly been hearing from people who have come from Perl and found Ruby to be a ‘better Perl, with objects that work,’". Wait, I thought the article was about Java hyper-enthusiasts leaving, not Perl enthusiasts.

To me, the title looks more like it was just a sensationalist approach to make people read what he thinks about Ruby, with almost no relation in the content to the title. It’s sad, since I enjoyed Bruce’s book Thinking in Java when I read it a long time ago. But I guess that’s why books have editors, reviewers and such. I also think that his focus is totally lost, since Java is way more than just web applications. Java is being used in a lot of places, from the smallest cellphone to the largest cluster of servers. I also think Java on the desktop is coming back with a blast, especially with some 3D applications and games like Tribal Trouble. The fact that Java is a mature language might turn down people who want to be on the bleeding edge, but a lot of enthusiasts are here (to stay, I might add).

3 thoughts on “Debunking Bruce Eckel

  1. I think you are right that he strayed from his title. So I guess he either lost track or was (as you conjecture) purposefully sensational.

    As to his later topics, I think he was more interested in promoting Python than Ruby. He’s somewhat of a Python guy, as far as I can tell.

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