Java Is Not A Dirty Word…
Strong title I know... It feels like thats how Java is regarded these days - Ruby and Python are becoming the golden boys of programming choice and poor ol' java is being left out in the cold because people only remember it as having crap costing/license models where you [the developer] needed to pay for everything.
Well, I have good news for you my friends, Java should no longer be a dirty word! The inertia that Ruby on Rails had in the Java community did cause quite a lot of controversy its true, but its almost like after the initial xenophobia had worn off they sat up and thought "you know what, these guys might actually be onto something here". I recently got into using Maven 2, and god, my good god, its a million times better than Ant, which just sucked so badly I cant explain! For anyone who is familiar with Rake, Maven is like Rake, but with all the package management stuff built right in - it does still have a certain level of entry required, but it just simplifies the process of created projects and managing dependencies in a very streamlined way.
The language itself has evolved quite a lot too - the new annotations are used heavily be JEE apps and frameworks - take CXF as an example; it will eventually replace XFire and Axis2 as the premier SOAP/WebService framework for Java, its a very very powerful tool and pretty easy to use (relatively speaking)
Anyway, I digress... my point is that if, like me, you left Java because the last time you worked with it you were slogging it out with 1.4 and Ant hell, then perhaps its time you took another look? Java has had significant investment as a platform, and there is a hell of a lot of good code out there for doing pretty much anything you can think of. In all honesty, one of the main reasons I have come back to JEE and the JVM in general is deployment - the JVM is very robust, and the containers built of top of it like Resin and Glassfish are being used in very high-concurrency environments and the deployment method via JAR or WAR is just so much more robust than on a platform like Ruby - and thats coming from having spent nearly the past 3 years solidly coding Ruby and doing all manner of deployments!
Dont write Java off - its an amazing platform, so what if its not as easy to get started as with other languages; think long-term, its a language that will grow with you rather than one you might someday reach the ceiling of - or just find incredibly annoying when the application dispatchers crash for a past time ;-)
Over and out