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Draft Review of Java 7 "Measures and Units"

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the comment-quick dept.

Java 220

Jean-Marie Dautelle writes to inform us that the public review period ends on July 8 for JSR-275, "Measures and Units" Early Draft. The JSR-275 will be a major enhancement for Java 7 by providing "strong" typing (through class parameterization) and easy internationalization of Java programs, preventing conversion errors. The latest version 0.8 is available as a PDF. The reference implementation is provided by the JScience project under a BSD license."

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Java 8 (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19755765)

Wow, this will make Java nearly one half as powerful as C#!

Seriously, Java folks, if you want stay employable, buy a C# book because Java was DOA.

Take it from me, I work in HR at a Fortune 500 company, so I know a thing or two.

Re:Java 8 (1)

funfail (970288) | more than 7 years ago | (#19755825)

You are an authority on "strong typing in Java and C#" because you work in HR?

Re:Java 8 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19756093)

It's a common troll. You'll see the whole "I worked at micrsoft..." or "I worked in field X" at lot, followed by some stupid ass comments. Actually, the HR thing is quite common for it. Don't feed the troll people, just mod him down.

Re:Java 8 (5, Funny)

EWIPlayer (881908) | more than 7 years ago | (#19755831)

Take it from me, I work in HR at a Fortune 500 company, so I know a thing or two.

This AC is totally right. Every time I need a decision on which language I should use to implement a product, I always go straight to HR; preferably HR in fortune 500 company. Those folks really know their stuff!

As if what companies use has anything whatsoever to do with this paper... I agree Java sucks, but this has nothing to do with whether or not someone is "employable" after reading this paper - it has to do with a fairly smart group of folks trying to make Java a bit better for numerical work. (i.e. for the public sector, more often than not)

Re:Java 8 (2, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#19755933)

It sounds like this stuff comes from Sun's work on Fortress, which is a language designed to replace FORTRAN in scientific computing (and HPC). The nice thing about having units in the language is that you can use the compiler's type checking way beyond its normal boundaries. You can do this already with classes, but it's messy. You could have a distance and a time class, for example, and constructors that would take scalars and units and create them, then a speed class that would construct a speed from a distance and a time, but it would be a lot of code and very hard to read, so most people just use integers (or floats) and rely on their brains to catch conversion errors. If you add some syntactic sugar then you make it much more attractive, and reduce the errors in the program.

Useful for NASA? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757577)

You can do this already with classes, but it's messy.
I'm a bit of a noob at java, but isn't it messy because java doesn't allow (user defined) overloading of operators? It seems to me I'd define the add operator to homogenise the units first.

Such that if a.qty = 1 and a.unit = foot
                  and b.qty = 12 and b.unit = inch,

c := a + b makes c.qty = 2 and c.unit = foot.

Re:Java 8 (1)

j-pimp (177072) | more than 7 years ago | (#19755873)

Take it from me, I work in HR at a Fortune 500 company, so I know a thing or two.

I lack a degree and my experience is to all over the map for me fit nicely into one of your fortune 500 peg holes. I'll have to continue working for one of the smaller companies that your company outsources its work to.

BTW, I do happen to user C# in my current job. However, that does not mean that there are no jobs in Java available. There is merit in learning Cobol, and trade schools that still teach it. Someone has to maintain the old code.

Re:Java 8 (3, Informative)

teknopurge (199509) | more than 7 years ago | (#19755921)

Take it from me, I work in HR at a Fortune 500 company
Rule #1 - Do not talk about fight club
Rule #2 - When making a point, do not discredit yourself

Re:Java 8 (4, Informative)

xero314 (722674) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756053)

I work in HR at a Fortune 500 company
Translation: "I have no idea what I am talking about"

Lets see what jobs are actually out there:
  • Dice
    • C#: 7303 (or 5054 if you take out all the incorrect matches on C)
    • Java: 16803
  • Monster (last 10 days since it limits to 5k)
    • C#: 1911
    • Java: 3760
That is without comparing salaries which are on average higher for Java developers.

Just goes to show how out of touch HR really is.

Re:Java 8 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19756323)

That is without comparing salaries which are on average higher for Java developers.


So hiring C# developers is cheaper, which makes HR look good for keeping salaries down.



Just goes to show how out of touch HR really is.


No, it shows that HR is in touch with its goals.


Re:Java 8 (5, Funny)

Mr. Bad Example (31092) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756533)

> Take it from me, I work in HR at a Fortune 500 company, so I know a thing or two.

HR? I'd be surprised if you know what color database has the most RAM [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Java 8 (1, Insightful)

HouseArrest420 (1105077) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757181)

Everyone knocked this guy/girls post because HR has nothing to do with Java. LOL to all of you. Who hires you? Oh yeah, thats right...HR. So who has a better understanding of the EMPLOYEMENT of people experienced with Java?

LOL when I want advice on an applet....I'll ask one of you. When I want advice on my chances of being hired....I think I'll go with HR. After all one of you even said:

This AC is totally right. Every time I need a decision on which language I should use to implement a product, I always go straight to HR; preferably HR in fortune 500 company. Those folks really know their stuff!

So let's be fair accross the board and use that as an example.

When I want advice on job marketability I'm going straight to someone with Java experience, preferably and underpaid person, those folds know their stuff.

ROFL

i like this a lot (0)

the0ther (720331) | more than 7 years ago | (#19755807)

i suspect MS will rip off this idea soon enough, so i will never have to go back to java programming ever again. at least, i hope so. seriously, how come this is the first that i've heard of this kind of idea? it's one of those where i wish i would have thought of it first. it seems so obvious now.

Re:i like this a lot (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19756067)

Hi there, you might be wondering why your post is +0 Insightful. Let me break it down for you:

seriously, how come this is the first that i've heard of this kind of idea? it's one of those where i wish i would have thought of it first.
+5, insightful. Astute note that you've added to the conversation.

i suspect MS will rip off this idea soon enough, so i will never have to go back to java programming ever again. at least, i hope so.
-4, you work with Microsoft technologies. You've added nothing to the conversation except reveal that you are further propagating a terrible proprietary technology.

it seems so obvious now.
-1, hindsight is 20/20. Everything is obvious once you understand it.

So you see, you could have easily scored a +4 insightful for the last two sentences. In any event, that evidence you are using C# and enjoy it is the final nail on your comment's coffin and it will come to rest at a +0 or even -1 shallow grave.

Re:i like this a lot (4, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756287)

seriously, how come this is the first that i've heard of this kind of idea?

You want the honest answer or the sugarcoated one?

Sugar: JScience is getting attention now because Sun is standardizing it through the JCP.

Honest: Because you've been living in Microsoft la-la land? JScience has been around in the form of the J.A.D.E. library [dautelle.com] for at least 5 or 6 years; probably longer. Jean-Marie has worked diligently over the years to make sure that Java has had top-notch support for scientific programming. The fact that he's getting recognition by the JCP members is nothing short of splendid. He deserves every bit of it. :)

Re:i like this a lot (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756473)

It might be possible to do something like this with Linq, although I haven't looked at that much yet.

My question is, when will Sun rip off formal property definitions? Or did they already and I missed it?

More Java growth? (1, Interesting)

teknopurge (199509) | more than 7 years ago | (#19755827)

Looks like the death-blow for c#? I realize that there will be a lot of c# projects in MS shops, but Java has been around so long and continues to grow.

Dice.com results:

'java' - 16799
'c#' - 7305
'.NET' - 12042 (inclusive of c#)

Re:More Java growth? (3, Interesting)

FlashBuster3000 (319616) | more than 7 years ago | (#19755923)

your java-results probably also contain "Javascript" (think of jobs for web 2.0, ajax, etc.).

Not to mention the tremendous amount of jobs for java-coffee-machine-engineers!

Re:More Java growth? (2, Informative)

xero314 (722674) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756135)

your java-results probably also contain "Javascript" (think of jobs for web 2.0, ajax, etc.).
Dice has 2098 listings in java results that happen to match javascript, very few of which are exclusively javascript without java. which still leaves approximately 14k java jobs vs the fact that the C# search also turns up C jobs, which lowers C# down to barely 5k.

Not to mention the tremendous amount of jobs for java-coffee-machine-engineers!
On Monster maybe, but not on Dice.

Re:More Java growth? (2, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756217)

However, this just shows how many employers are looking for people to fill positions. It doesn't really state how may positions are currently filled. Maybe there's just less people that actually know how to program well in Java. Maybe a lot of the of the people who know Java aren't doing Java, but are doing something else. Existence of job postings doesn't prove that one technology is better or more popular than another, just that they are having more trouble finding people to fill the available positions. Maybe Java really is more popular, but I've seen a lot more shops using .Net than Java. Of course, I could be wrong, but I don't think just looking up the number of job postings paints an accurate picture.

Re:More Java growth? (2, Insightful)

mhall119 (1035984) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757103)

Maybe Java really is more popular, but I've seen a lot more shops using .Net than Java.
It may be that .Net has more shops than Java (I don't know), but Java likely has bigger shops which account for more positions within a single shop. After all, you don't run .Net on Sparc, Alpha or Power architectures. With sales reps from Sun, IBM, HP, Bea and Oracle all pushing Java stacks, it shouldn't be surprising that there is more demand for Java developers than for .Net developers.

Re:More Java growth? (1)

xero314 (722674) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757197)

You are correct that it does not show the number of positions in existance, but rather where there is need for good developers. But when looking at the basics of supply and demand you want to be in the field with the highest demand and lowest supply. This is why the average income of a Java developer is higher than a C# or .Net developer. As an old school assembler/machine language programer I am certainly not going to use job postings to justify the quality of particular language, just the demand. The only other comment I would have to make is that a .Net programer is most likely going to see more .Net shops that Java shops, it's part of the circle you might run in.

I will also point out that both .Net/C# and Java are in lower demand than C/C++ (having over 17k listings on dice).

Re:More Java growth? (5, Funny)

jgrahn (181062) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756281)

Looks like the death-blow for c#?

Yes. A couple of classes for handling metres, kilograms and seconds is the killer application for Java. All other languages/operating environments will disappear overnight.

Re:More Java growth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19756479)

No! You can't mean.... BSD IS DYING?

Re:More Java growth? (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756313)

I don't think either or going anywhere anytime soon. But the flipside to your post is that if Java becomes that ubiquitous it will be easy to get a job, but hard to get paid well because the market will be flooded with Java guys/gals. The C# guys will get paid more because of the relative supply constraints. ;)

Re:More Java growth? (1)

mhall119 (1035984) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757205)

Economics 101: Price = Demand/Supply

You are assuming that there is equal demand for Java and C# developers, but a lesser supply of C# developers. What people are seeing on dice and monster is both a higher demand and supply for Java developers compared to C# developers. From my own looking around, the average offered pay for Java developers is higher than for .Net developers, which in theory means that Java has a higher demand/supply ration than C#.

Re:More Java growth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19756353)

I use both Java and C# in my job. The more and more I use C# (which I have for the last 4 years), the more I realize how poorly designed it was compared to Java. Granted, it has a few really good features that Java doesn't, but a lot of design errors that make it a pain to use.

Re:More Java growth? (3, Funny)

iDaZe (721176) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756653)

Your statistics are almost as good as mine:

Java sucks [googlefight.com]
.NET more popular [googlefight.com]

Re:More Java growth? (5, Interesting)

fm6 (162816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756675)

A little detail: "Java" is both a platform and a language. C# is just a language, one of several that runs on the .NET platform. (Microsoft doesn't like the word "platform", but it's the only one that fits.) So when you're analyzing market share, you need to compare Java with .NET, not with C#.

The figures you quote show .NET doing pretty good, though still lagging way behind Java. One little improvement in the Java language is not going to spell the "death nell" for the .NET platform. That would be true even if .NET didn't have the backing of the biggest software company on the planet.

What is bad news for .NET is the fact that Sun seems to be capturing a lot of developer mind share with its Java Community Process [jcp.org] , which is where this proposal comes from, along with a lot of other good stuff, including JSR 166 [jcp.org] , which originated outside Sun, and has successfully added a major improvement in concurrency [sun.com] to the Java platform.

The JCP won't spell the "death knell" to C# or .NET either, not as long as they have MS's backing — and are essential tools on Windows. But it will certainly help Java hold onto its lead.

Re:More Java growth? (4, Insightful)

Shados (741919) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757497)

One issue with .NET that slowed down its growth, was poor support for enterprise projects. That is, .NET was quite the ideal platform for mid size project, but when you start needing reliable services (by reliable, I mean queueing, availability contracts, etc), distributed transactions for things other than DBs, handling encapsulated business processes, etc, it was way, -way- behind Java.

Now with .NET 3.0, it caught up, and with .NET 3.5 its quite impressive: however, 3.5 isn't officially out, and 3.0 doesn't have Visual Studio support, and for the most part in the .NET world, if its not in Visual Studio, it doesn't exists. Once VS2008 comes out (at the end of this year), things should spice up a bit...

MS' presence on codeplex is also helping the community side a bit, especially with Patterns & Practices (which a lot of things done by that team, altered by the community, eventually makes it in the real things, like Project Acropolis).

Thats mostly speculation mind you, but it should be interesting...

Re:More Java growth? (4, Interesting)

fm6 (162816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757605)

In other words, Microsoft screwed up all its early planning for .NET. That's only just, since Sun did exactly the same thing with Java: lousy compilers and virtual machines; too much emphasis on web applications and "network computer" technology. Most of the negative things people think they know about Java comes from that era.

Meh (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#19755843)

I think everything should be done as derived units from Planck Units [wikipedia.org] .

Bah (1)

Reverend528 (585549) | more than 7 years ago | (#19755881)

My car gets 40 rods to the hogshead and that's the way i like it.

Re:Bah (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756029)

My car gets 40 rods to the hogshead and that's the way i like it.

40 rods per hogshead? Geez, what do you drive, a diesel-powered aircraft carrier?

I thought my SUV was bad, but it gets 440,000 rods per hogshead.

Re:Bah (1)

tmarthal (998456) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756665)

Yes, but internationally, that should be "Mi coche consigue 40 barras al cabeza del cerdo"; hopefully the units know the internationalization!

Re:Meh (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756729)

That's sort of like Vernor Vinge's notion that we can replace all clocks and calenders with a system where the only unit is the second (and powers of 10 thereof) and the epoch is the familiar January 1, 1970. There are so many things wrong with that idea, it's hard to know where to start.

Cool Idea... but (1, Interesting)

CanadaIsCold (1079483) | more than 7 years ago | (#19755853)

Additions of features like this are useful for applications that need unit of measure conversion. I can think of a number of situations where using a mechanism like this rather than writing my own conversion could be useful. Also adding the ability to extend it yourself with custom unit's could be very helpful in some cases.

How much do additions such as this add to the overall footprint of the language? I understand that this project may not be very large but how many parallel projects such as this are being added to the codebase. I'm not sure what the benefit of adding this directly over having it available as a library. In many cases we need to keep several java instances on the same server(app specific, multi versions) this means that this footprint growth get's multiplied across the multiple instances.

Re:Cool Idea... but (1)

xXenXx (973576) | more than 7 years ago | (#19755903)

It _is_ being added as a library, from what I can tell. If you don't import it into your program, then you won't have to worry about it.

Re:Cool Idea... but (1)

CanadaIsCold (1079483) | more than 7 years ago | (#19755953)

I agree if you don't import it you won't have to worry about it's memory footprint and java has a fairly granular import mechanism for managing this. However I was refrencing the disk footprint which will be affected regardless of import by code.

Re:Cool Idea... but (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#19755965)

It depends on what you mean by footprint. Java is statically typed, so all of the unit checking will be done at compile time, with no runtime overhead. It can all be compiled down to things that will fit into Java's existing type system. It's basically just syntactic sugar; it doesn't add anything semantically to the language, but it makes code a lot more readable. You wouldn't need it if Java had something like Lisp's macro facility, but then Java is a language for 'average programmers' who aren't allowed to play with power tools.

Re:Cool Idea... but (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756423)

Hmm, I wonder if you could do this using Linq in .Net? That's basically just syntatic sugar too.

Similar to Fortress (4, Interesting)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 7 years ago | (#19755901)

This looks rather similar to the units and dimensions handling and checking available in Fortress [sun.com] , Sun's effort to build a new numerical/scientific computing language. In general it seems like a sensible idea -- having the option of adding extra annotation that allows for more exacting static checking and greater assurance is generally always a good thing. The only downside is that, at least in the java implementation, it is a little cumbersome and clumsy (though maybe that's just par for the course for new java versions). Now if only java could get statically checkable optional contracts as in Spec# we might actually be getting somewhere. At the very least it would be nice if they had runtime checkable contracts, properties and tests as in Fortress. Or perhaps I should just wait for Fortress to finally mature; it seems that will happen faster than java getting the features I'm after.

getting tired of Java ... (5, Interesting)

boxlight (928484) | more than 7 years ago | (#19755911)

I've spent most of the last 10 years building desktop and web applications with Java: AWT, Swing, JSP, Struts, J2EE, EJBs, and on and on.

Through all those years I've had to fight perceptions of Java being hard to distribute, slow, difficult, insecure, and over-engineered. I've done pretty well in the battle, and produced some pretty nice products.

Maybe I'm having a bit of a mid-life crisis, and I'm wondering where to go from here. I'm looking at alternatives for development: AJAX, Ruby, PHP, and Adobe AIR. But nothing out there (outside of the Microsoft world) does everything that Java does as well -- but Java just doesn't do GUI too well. Although GWT is pretty cool. And I've always thought Applets were underrated and under-utilized.

The point of this rant? Java 7 doesn't excite me in the least. Me and everyone I know are firmly planted in Java 5 (or is it 1.5? I always forget) and we don't appear to be moving to Java 6 (1.6?) -- so why should we care about Java 7 (1.7?).

Anyway, that's my rant. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!

Re:getting tired of Java ... (1)

teknopurge (199509) | more than 7 years ago | (#19755947)

Use the Netbeans [netbeans.org] GUI builder tools and the Visual Web Builder. Throw jMaki into the mix and you can start having fun again.

Re:getting tired of Java = Python! (1)

AslanTheMentat (896280) | more than 7 years ago | (#19755999)

Python [python.org] . PyQt or wxPython (or PyObjC+Cocoa if you are OS X'y) OR Jython + SWT or Swing.

I'll be flamed for sure (espec. by the usual Ruby suspects), BUT... I was once where you are now, and I ain't lookin back. ;)

My 2 cents anyhow, for what they're worth (...wait...2 cents?)

Re:getting tired of Java = Python! (4, Funny)

Sciros (986030) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756045)

Well at least it's 2 whole cents. Too many people say stuff like "just wanted to add my .02 cents" which IMO deals a severe blow to their credibility.

Re:getting tired of Java = Python! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19757499)

Well at least it's 2 whole cents. Too many people say stuff like "just wanted to add my .02 cents" which IMO deals a severe blow to their credibility.


People who work at Verizon [verizonmath.com] have as much right to post as anyone else.

Re:getting tired of Java = Python! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19756325)

Yeah, these days I am really enjoying python programming, java doesn't do it for me.

Python already has a fantastic module (Unum) to do units stuff - I think it covers everything this Java work does.

if you like making nice GUIs, check out WxPython.

Re:getting tired of Java ... (1)

wawannem (591061) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756071)

Have you looked at Struts 2.x? I know it will sound like I'm self-marketing (which I am), but check out my series of articles -

wantii.com

Re:getting tired of Java ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19756173)

Struts == old and busted. Seam FTW. The component core isn't built on JSF now, and it has grown GWT bindings too.

For an alternative approach, Aranea is also shaping up nicely. It's obscure, but definitely worth checking out. It's kind of like the best parts of Rife and Wicket got together.

(Is it just me or are there way too many java web frameworks?)

Re:getting tired of Java ... (2, Informative)

wawannem (591061) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756225)

Struts 1.x == old and busted, Struts 2.x == gaining ground rather quickly. It is worth checking out if you haven't done so. It has AJAX support built-in, the configuration is a heck of a lot easier than before and there is a plug-in interface to help roll-out new functionality or integration with other libraries (Spring, SiteMesh, GWT, and a bunch more already).

You are definitely right that there are too many frameworks :).

Re:getting tired of Java ... (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756375)


>You are definitely right that there are too many frameworks :).

Nonsense. There are too many people who lack the discipline to choose tools and stick to them for a project scope.

I've abandoned Struts and also EJB except for JPA, and I've grown quite fond of the combination of JSF (MyFaces + Tomahawk) bundled with the Hibernate flavor JPA.

Most other "frameworky" things have become redundant or obsolete. Once I got my head around JSF (not a small task, admittedly), I just started doing work with it. It worked and it helped me complete projects, which are for me the Alpha and Omega of whether a "framework" type of thing gets adopted.

Now that JSF and JPA are Java standards, it's not even a hard sell when bringing others into my workflow.

Re:getting tired of Java ... (1)

wawannem (591061) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756541)

> Nonsense. There are too many people who lack the discipline to choose tools and stick to them for a project scope.

I don't know if I'd say that... I would bet that more developers are using frameworks than not. The reason I would suggest that there are too many frameworks is that I firmly believe in the "best tool for the job" mantra, but to really decide which is the best tool, you have to have some experience with each tool before you can decide. If I read your post correctly, it sounds like you use JSF mostly because you know it and you like it... Can you really say it's the best tool for the job? I don't have much experience with JSF, but I do know that it's a component-based framework rather than a Model 2 framework (MVC). Struts2 has a plug-in to integrate JSF, and for a large project, I would imagine that bringing a component-based framework into the mix would be beneficial.

As for the "lack of discipline," I really don't think we can fault developers. Deciding on a framework should be the job of an architect. The developers usually want to know what their task is and what they can use to get it done. Deciding on a framework should be happening long before they are assigned their individual tasks.

Re:getting tired of Java ... (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756781)


As for the "lack of discipline," I really don't think we can fault developers. Deciding on a framework should be the job of an architect.

Hrrmmm. In an ideal world that's true. Many projects don't have a dedicated architect whose job it is to just evaluate frameworks all day though. Software development has a history of not being very ideal, one reason being it's still an actively developing field. I've looked into frameworks again recently, and picking one is like picking a religion. Everyone touts the good aspects and doesn't like to admit all the downsides. I've also talked to a couple developers at large shops, and at least one said he experienced a mix of different java framework technologies in use. My experience has been similar, having worked with a project with its own MVC implementation, no MVC, and worked with struts 1.

So I can see how someone might say there's too many frameworks, or that projects can't seem to stick with one technology even with Java. I wound up choosing Struts 2 just because it seemed the most flexible, being able to incorporate other frameworks within it.

Re:getting tired of Java ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19756441)

Have you looked at Struts 2.x?

In my opinion, they did WebWork a huge disservice by rebranding it as Struts 2. Or maybe not--maybe there are a ton of people who didn't realize just how bad Struts 1 was, and will migrate to Struts 2 thinking it really is a new version of Struts. And maybe the people who don't like Struts 1, will think "Struts 2? Maybe they got it right this time"

Re:getting tired of Java ... (1)

wawannem (591061) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756725)

I'm guessing that the choice of name really had more to do with exposure than anything else. Go to amazon.com and search for webwork... IIRC, there is really only one book on WebWork, Struts on the other hand...

After having used both, I would agree that WebWork was superior, and I am glad the Struts2 is based more on WebWork than Struts1.

Re:getting tired of Java ... (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756091)

I'm wondering where to go from here.

Assembler on bare metal. It'll be a change.

Re:getting tired of Java ... (1)

xero314 (722674) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756219)

Assembler on bare metal
Assembler? Coward. Real programers write direct machine code. (que long thread of "Real Programer" comments)

Re:getting tired of Java ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19756589)

Machine code? Coward. Real programmers bake their programs directly onto the chips that they fabricate themselves in their garage.

Re:getting tired of Java ... (1)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757261)

Bare metal? Luxury! Sheer luxury!

Since I ditched Java I've been coding by arranging large stones in binary patterns.

Re:getting tired of Java ... (1)

iksrazal_br (614172) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756457)

"I'm wondering where to go from here."

"Assembler on bare metal. It'll be a change."

I've also programmed in java for a long time - since '99. And I'm totally burnt out on the "yet another UI on top of a db" that seems par for the course in java - and in php, ruby, Qt etc for that matter so that's not really an exciting option for me

However, I programmed in C/C++ five years before java, and more importantly, I've been using linux since '96 and exclusively since '99. So I got an opportunity to port linux embedded to a custom ppc board, and yes, I'm doing PPC "Assembler on bare metal" to get the bootloader (u-boot) to initialize the cpu and memory so I can load the kernel. And I can say, once again, things are fun ;-).

Re:getting tired of Java ... (5, Interesting)

alyawn (694153) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756145)

I agree about the features of Java 6 & 7. I code to Java 5 but run in the latest and greatest VM because they continue to make performance enhancements there.

As for GUI development, I believe that we will see some progress made there. Right now, there is some good competition going on between Swing, SWT, and other toolkits. And now, QT just came out with QT Jambi [trolltech.com] which looks really cool. The bottom line is that eventually, one of these toolkits will emerge and become the defacto toolkit. Remember, cross platform UI is a hard problem to solve. They'll figure it our eventually. Or, you may get tired enough and write one yourself :)

Re:getting tired of Java ... (5, Insightful)

cmburns69 (169686) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756165)

Version 1.7 will come out, and then you'll start moving to 1.6. When 1.8 comes out, then you can switch to 1.7. It seems like very few people actually use the most recent version. I suspect this is because new methods need to be researched, and community support for new features must be developed.

Re:getting tired of Java ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19756303)

I've never seen a reason to use 6 over 5. IME, there is not an appreciable difference. Though I use 5 over 1.5 any day. I'm not even sure I COULD code for 1.5 without breaking it.

Re:getting tired of Java ... (1)

xXenXx (973576) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756715)

Java 6 has improved ArrayLists, among other things. That alone is reason enough to use it.

Not sure if that second part was a joke or not, but Java 1.5 is the same as Java 5, no?

Re:getting tired of Java ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19756355)

Why not try Mono?

Re:getting tired of Java ... (3, Informative)

iabervon (1971) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756549)

Java 6 and Java 7 are relatively minor changes. As far as I can tell, the issue is that Sun can't deal with having more than one number in versions. When they revised the Java language, they didn't change the 1 to a 2; they added an extra 2 elsewhere in the name. Then when they wanted to do it again, they didn't know what to change, so they initially left everything the same, and then they discarded all of the stuck numbers. This means that they don't have a way to show the difference between adding a few library features and changing big important things. The difference between 5, 6, and 7 is much like the difference between 1.4.0, 1.4.1, and 1.4.2, and it's not worth upgrading unless you happen to care particularly about a new feature.

Re:getting tired of Java ... (4, Informative)

tcopeland (32225) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756701)

> Java 6 and Java 7 are relatively minor changes.

Language-wise Java 1.6 doesn't include any changes; check out the docs for the -source option for javac [sun.com] .

Re:getting tired of Java ... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19756611)

I'm a Java guy too, but built a series of large-company financial webapps using Ruby on Rails and PostgreSQL. I started when RoR was at a 0.1 release version (it's now almost 2.0). I found RoR to be an excellent tool for a quick, single webapp. We ended up writing 4 apps, though, and RoR is showing its limitations.

1. Lack of Talent. I had extreme difficulty finding qualified developers willing to work in Ruby fulltime. Few people had RoR experience, but most experience software developers from C++/Java/C# backgrounds were hesitant to make the leap to Ruby for fear it would hurt their resume. The experienced RoR folks also seem to have a very inflated sense of worth, which is driven by market scarcity.

2. Stability Problems. We've upgraded across several point RoR releases. Every time it shuts down productive work for 2 days. Yet needed features are in the updates, so we've upgraded. Java is far more stable and backwards compatible. Most recently we ran into a many-to-many ActiveRecord bug in the new code (the old approach is deprecated) that is "critical" in the RoR database but unresolved after 40+ days. You can't have basic ORM logic broken for business apps.

3. Multiple Applications. RoR and Capistrano (a great tool) are built for a single webapp. If you have multiple webapps that need deployment using shared packages (business objects), Capistrano can't get the job done (Ant can). If you need to share common business objects across multiple apps, it requires a symlink hack for RoR (whereas Ant makes it trivial to package mulitple tarballs from one project directory). If you need separate databases for one application (accounting data, credit card data, regular data, etc) then Java is ready to roll whereas RoR needs some code written to handle multiple databases easily.

All this to say we are rewriting all of our RoR webapps to use Java (POJOs with Struts 2.0).

Re:getting tired of Java ... (5, Informative)

onash (599976) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756795)

The JSR that I'm excited about;
- JSR 294 Improved Modularity Support (superpackages); so we can define the API that is public for a library, so the user doesn't have to see all the public functions.
- JSR 296 Swing Application Framework; which helps us build better Swing GUIs faster in a more standard way.
- JSR 295 Beans Binding and JSR 303 Beans Validation
I was really excited about that Consumer JRE / Java Kernel, which was suppose to minimize the size of the JRE so you could bundle a 5mb JRE for a normal Swing Application, but they decided on pushing that to Java 6! so it's arriving as a patch late this year. It will probably include a very nice looking look&feel as well as GUI drawing optimizations using DirectX on Windows.. pretty cool.

We can also hope for Closures, which would make our GUI code a lot neater.. My company and everyone that I know (except Apple) have moved to Java 6 - and the IDEs such as Eclipse and new technologies like Open-Terracotta are making me love Java! Especially cause we are developing applications / algorithms that run on many different platform.. Java is really the only way cause its fast enough and rock solid.

Python. Don't be afraid of the sunshine (1)

TheCouchPotatoFamine (628797) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756857)

Just because it's easier, more beautiful, compact, and enjoyable doesn't make it a two-seater miata! /and when i thought programming really wasn't fun, and there was just too much toil-per-feature, i found it myself. and at least programming is fun again! //Python3000 will have interfaces

Re:getting tired of Java ... (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756897)

"And I've always thought Applets were underrated and under-utilized."
Funny but I have found Applets underrated and over-utilized!
I think the HUGE number of trivial Applets "Hover buttons" ruined the reputation of Java.
Things like VNC show the real power of applets. Too bad they where so rare.

Resources & UI (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756999)

I've spent most of the last 10 years building desktop and web applications with Java: AWT, Swing, JSP, Struts, J2EE, EJBs, and on and on.

If have done a fair amount of that too and my biggest gripe: having to write user interfaces in source code or UI builder generating source code! The problem with this approach is that you are tied into some builder and the code generated is ugly. Compare this it to Visual Studio (on MS-Windows) or Interface Builder (on MacOS X) which both generate binary resource files indicating how things should be laid out. With Interface Builder you design your GUI and then tell which are the handlers in the source code for handling the UI even. For me this is the one thing that needs to be sorted out in Java if it is going to be taken seriously for desktop applications.

Re:getting tired of Java ... (1)

gabrieltss (64078) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757239)

"but Java just doesn't do GUI too well"
True Java doesn't have a nice GUI. But if you build web applications and combine it with Ajax toolkits you can get some nice GUI's. We are building web applications using Java, JSP, Struts, Dojo Toolkit and Turbo Widgets and they look really nice. All wrapped in Apache Jetspeed portals/portlets running ontop of JBoss. You can get some really cool looking applications this way.

Re:getting tired of Java ... (1)

mhall119 (1035984) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757485)

The point of this rant? Java 7 doesn't excite me in the least. Me and everyone I know are firmly planted in Java 5 (or is it 1.5? I always forget) and we don't appear to be moving to Java 6 (1.6?) -- so why should we care about Java 7 (1.7?).
Modular Java and Kernel JVM (JSR 277 & 294) which should improve Applet start time to be comparable to Flash.
SwingLabs components, take a look for yourself, these guys are making some nice UI enhancements.
Java Application Framework (JSR 296) providing a pre-built framework for common application tasks.
Bean Bindings (JSR 295), so you no longer have to write your own update code.
JavaFX? I don't know much about this, but it could make GUI development interesting.
Media Components, this one I'm especially looking forward to after looking into the abyss of JMF.

That's just to name a few of the technologies that I'm looking forward to. Thinks like generics and the enhanced for loop have also made coding Java a little nicer. I'm just now starting to use Annotations, which combined with reflection is letting me reduce the amount of boiler-place code I have to write. Once people start hacking the GPL'd Java code, you can expect to see a lot more interesting things make their way into the platform.

Re:getting tired of Java ... (2, Informative)

3m_w018 (1002627) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757627)

Well, Eclipse [eclipse.org] is a major step in the right direction, despite its shortcomings (the structure of the SWT library and its limitations in comparision w/ Swing, its bulk, etc.).

When you program Eclipse RCP applications, you don't just spend less time fudging around w/ GUI widgets and more time plugging in large chunks of functionality provided to you (for free) in the framework. Tasks that would have taken me months alone have been shortened up to a matter of weeks...

Perhaps JavaFX (3, Interesting)

centinall (868713) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757707)

Although still in it's infancy, JavaFX kinda sounds interesting. I've played around with it a little bit, and it's definitely fun. There are several examples out there showing you how it's done and they get the point across pretty well. It's supposed to be an alternative to Flash and Silverlight and although showing promise, it definitely falls short in it's multimedia capabilities(sound and video). Multimedia would perhaps be the killer feature to add to Java 7. Anyway, they're supposedly optimizing Java 7 to handle JavaFX and JavaFX Script and this is perhaps one of the features that "might" encourage people to upgrade.

https://openjfx.dev.java.net/ [java.net]

Btw, JavaFX was previously known as F3 (Form Follows Function?) for those that may be looking up more details and examples of it.

ooh convenient (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19755943)

Measure<Double, Mass> weight = Measure.valueOf(180.0, POUND);
Nope, that isn't cumbersome to write at all, no sir.

Re:ooh convenient (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19756221)

You forgot something.

Measure weight;
try {
weight = Measure.valueOf(180.0, POUND);
} catch (HeisenbergException e) {
// ignore this which never happens, but shut the stupid compiler's yap
}

Neat idea (4, Informative)

mritunjai (518932) | more than 7 years ago | (#19755969)

Its a one of the several neat ideas being lifted from the Fortress language.

For the unitiated, Guy Steele (of Scheme fame) is building a new language for scientific computing called Fortress [sunsource.net] . It has some nice ideas that really should have been there by now. The language would have saved countless headaches in not just scientific but probably all mainstream software development projects.

Of course, its just one of the pet projects in SUN Labs ;)

Re:Neat idea (1)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756253)

Now if only they could lift the better functional programming support, and support for tests, properties and contracts... The math notation would be nice too, but I suspect that'll be a hard sell to all the non-mathy types out there.

Re:Neat idea (1)

3p1ph4ny (835701) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757683)

hard sell to all the non-mathy types out there.
Like String?

Re:Neat idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19757217)

Thanks a lot, genius. Care to share what those "neat" ideas are?

Ugh... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19755995)

...more bloat-ware "functionality".

This sounds like something that was put in as a request by someone dealing with offshore work and who got shoddy code back...

"Java developers who work with physical quantities (such as developers in the scientific, engineering, medical, and manufacturing domains) need to be able to handle measurements of these quantities in their programs."

Really? No kidding? It's called a requirement.
So we are adding functionality to give poor developers yet another crutch to lean on, catering to the stupid?

"Inadequate models of physical measurements can lead to significant programmatic errors. In particular, the practice of modeling a measure as a simple number with no regard to the units it represents creates fragile code. Another developer or another part of the code may misinterpret the number as representing a different unit of measurement. For example, it may be unclear whether a person?s weight is expressed in pounds, kilograms, or stones."

And it's Java's responsiblity to "fix" this problem?

"Developers must either use inadequate models of measurements, or must create their own solutions. It is less than ideal for every developer to solve this problem. A common solution can be safer and can save development time for domain-specific work."

So it's one-size-fits all? B.S.
What happens when I have to interface Java with something else, a database, another language?

If I've already solved these problems within my system, will I have to go back and change everything because someone changes a runtime setting?

Re:Ugh... (1)

xXenXx (973576) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756139)

As has already been pointed out, the only thing this is going to add "bloat" to is the hard drive. This addition will take up a little extra disk space, that's it. The compiled code will still be the same, and if you don't import it the libraries won't be loaded into memory.

It's there for people who want it, and not there for everyone else.

Re:Ugh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19756203)

"Bloat" as in language "bloat" -- keeping a language streamlined and powerful or bolting on endless libraries for every little thing possible.

Re:Ugh... (4, Insightful)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756455)

Really? No kidding? It's called a requirement. So we are adding functionality to give poor developers yet another crutch to lean on, catering to the stupid?
No, it would be adding a mechanism that allows requirements to be documented properly in the code itself, rather than on paper in a binder buried behind the filing cabinet in a document that is now hopelessly out of date and doesn't reflect the code at all anymore.

Perhaps you are a perfect programmer who never makes mistakes. Some of us, despite our best efforts, do make mistakes occasionally; perhaps we simply weren't thinking about how this code would interact with someone elses code at the time; perhaps we just made a typo; perhaps we hadn't quite had our coffee yet; who knows, but mistakes happen to everyone (except, apparently, yourself). In the case that mistakes creep in, it is nice to be able to catch and fix them as early as possible, rather than having a complex and expensive bug hunt somewhere down the line. Spending a moment to actually document requirements and intentions in a form that can be checked (be it statically, or automatically at runtime if you leave checks on) efficiently and regularly is a good thing. Most of us do that already in the form of static types which are checked at compile time. Adding some expressivity to that (via a more powerful type system, contract annotations on methods and objects, an automated unit testing system, or just extra static checks on units) isn't a bad thing, especially if it is optional (as it often is).

I can have some sympathy for the complaint that adding bits and pieces in this rather piecemeal (and in the case of this particular implementation, somewhat clumsy and verbose) fashion is poor. Ideally adding means to decently document and express requirements and intentions should be something added to the language as a whole, with an overriding vision of how it should work. For that see Eiffel, Spec#, Fortress, or languages with more expressive type systems like the ML family and Haskell. Still, with something as simple and encapsulable as dimension and unit checking, why not just throw it in as a convenient optional extra? If you don't like it, don't import the library that implements it.

Re:Ugh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19756951)

"Perhaps you are a perfect programmer who never makes mistakes. "

I never claimed as such. All I am saying is that you can never remove the poor programmers and mistakes by wrapper libraries alone and sometimes giving them a crutch is worse than forcing them to think more about what they are doing.

"Most of us do that already in the form of static types which are checked at compile time. Adding some expressivity to that (via a more powerful type system, contract annotations on methods and objects, an automated unit testing system, or just extra static checks on units) isn't a bad thing, especially if it is optional (as it often is)."

Automatic checks only go so far, and if it's optional then it's even worse -- failure through ommission.
Relying on the things you list alone will result in abject failure, not only in the system itself but the philosophy of the developers -- "I did xyz, I'm safe, there will be no errors." There's only so much you can do within the base language itself before you start catering to the stupid and putting the system in a nice, safe, less-useful box.

"I can have some sympathy for the complaint that adding bits and pieces in this rather piecemeal (and in the case of this particular implementation, somewhat clumsy and verbose) fashion is poor."

Yes, that's what I was getting at, IMHO a lot of things were just bolted on. As one example, there is double, Double and BigDecimal -- you can understand the reasons for each of them, but in the end the implementation is clumsy at best.

But I guess that's just a philisophical argument that languages themselves should be as streamlined as possible.

Re:Ugh... (3, Insightful)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757451)

Automatic checks only go so far, and if it's optional then it's even worse -- failure through ommission.
Relying on the things you list alone will result in abject failure, not only in the system itself but the philosophy of the developers -- "I did xyz, I'm safe, there will be no errors." There's only so much you can do within the base language itself before you start catering to the stupid and putting the system in a nice, safe, less-useful box.
Are you then implying that we should remove the ability for checks because lazy and poor programmers will abuse them? You seem to be suggesting that if we provide any checking then developers will "use it as a crutch" and not write good code. At that rate why bother with type checking, since that's just an extra crutch that makes developers lazy and expect that things will work. While we're at it why not remove syntax checking altogether; surely giving developers hints about syntax errors just makes them lazy instead of carefully inspecting everything they write. Let's just have the compiler take a best run at compiling the code, and if there is any syntax it can't parse it can just fail silently and let the developer work out where it is. Just because some people are stupid enough to think that auotmated checking makes their code error free doesn't mean it isn't good to provide automated checking for the rest of us for whom it is useful. There will always be idiots, and you won't magically make them better programmers by failing to catch obvious mistakes.

Source code? (1)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756023)

Disclaimer: I'm too lazy to RTFA

I thought we were getting the source code this year, I know we're only halfway through but...

Re:Source code? (1)

brunascle (994197) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756709)

you can already get the source for OpenJDK 7 here [java.net] . it's just the JDK, though, as far as i know. i'm also not sure if OpenJDK is technically the same thing as the regular JDK.

JSR recognises that "Imperial" and "US" differ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19756055)

Which has got to be a good thing. British Imperial units are obsolete even in Britain, but still see some use. While they have the same _names_ as american units, they are different sizes. It's quite annoying to deal with code using imperial or u.s. units, but much more annoying if you don't even know which, or if the programmer didn't understand there is a difference, and used physical constants from a british textbook in america or vice-versa.

/usr/bin/units (1)

fred fleenblat (463628) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756421)

Yep, still there.

How Cute (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19756735)

How cute, the toy programming language edges slowly towards some sort of 'standardization' just after it released (partial) source code.

Java is a great 'learning' language for kids / computer science students, teaching them the basics of OOP.

Java is also great for making applets (read crapplets), and of course javascript based web pages.

There may be MORE java jobs out there, but look at the salaries they are 'commanding', better to be a waiter.

This is cool! (1)

FranTaylor (164577) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756753)

It's a natural extension of templates.

My chemistry teacher in high school taught us to think this way, you got no credit for your math unless you carried the units around.

- There doesn't have to be a big performance degradation, most of the work can be done at compile time.
.
- Like templates, you are free to ignore all of this if you want to, keep coding the way you have been, and maybe dabble with it where it's convenient.

- It's okay to accept some overhead in the name of helping to ensure program correctness. If you disagree with this statement, then you'd better be prepared to show me the blisters on your fingers from entering code via the front-panel switches.

- If there's a real concern for performance, there can be a run-time switch to turn off the checking, which you can enable after you've run the code through all your testing.

Code sample (3, Funny)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756949)

inches i = 10;
kilograms j = 40;
dollars k = 70;

print(i+j+k); // 1.453^10 volts

Re:Code sample (2, Funny)

vigmeister (1112659) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757009)

inches i = 10;
kilograms j = 40;
dollars k = 70;

print(i+j+k); // 1.453^10 volts
That's because time is money and e = mc^2

Cheers!

Predictable (2, Funny)

alexj33 (968322) | more than 7 years ago | (#19756973)

This can only lead to one thing. Or rather, many confusing things.

1. "Measures and Units" version 1.0. 2. "Measures and Units" Enterprise Edition. 3. "Measures and Units" on struts. 4. "Measures and Units" version 1.1. 5. "Measures and Units" version 1.2. Compatible with code written in 1.0, but not 1.1 nor EE. 6. "Measures and Units" for mobile devices 1.0. (Compatible with 1.1, but not 1.2, 1.0 nor EE.) 7. "Measures and Units" 1.3 for SunOS. (Requires a patch to the OS to make it work)

This will make our unit conversions so much easier.

Philosophy of numbers (4, Interesting)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757193)

It's interesting that I was trying to do the same thing with C++ back in 2000, maybe even 1996.

The idea is based on the philosophy that numbers do not exist in isolation. It is possible to speak of, e.g., the number 5 as an abstract entity unto its own, but that should be rare. Most of the time, "5" refers to the ratio "5:1", where the "1" refers to something tangible. In science, the "1" is denoted with units. The problem is, starting with tabulating machines, then onto electronic calculators, and even multi-gigabyte computers, numbers are almost universally represented (erroneously) as the former -- purely abstract numbers. The units are stripped off.

As any struggling physics or chemistry student knows, one can fake one's way through a test by doing "dimensional analysis" on test questions. If the units cancel out properly and agree, you've probably got the right answer.

Compilers should be doing dimensional analysis at compile-time. I had originally hoped to create C++ templates -- which are evaluated at compile-time -- to do this, but I couldn't quite see how to get them to handle all the possible permutations of unit combinations and conversions -- at least not easily. It really needs to be built into the language.

With a compiler enforcing dimensional analysis, it would force programmers to think through every formula and calculation. Novel unit combinations would arise as a result of creating database reports. E.g. a payroll report might have $/2-week pay period. A conversion somewhere to $/year would be another unit, and the conversion between $/2-week pay period and $/year would be clearly definied in one place rather than sprinkled throughout the code.

Putting conversions in one place is the first thing I did when I cleaned up some pre-existing source code that I took over. I explicitly created three coordinate systems (device, world, and screen) and created two two-way conversions to go between the levels. Before that, there were conversions all over the place, each a little different, each with different handling of roundoffs and some even with hidden fudge factors. ("Conversions in one place" can be done without developing a units system, as it has its own benefits.)

I blame a lack of education on the philosophy of numbers for programming languages relying upon naked numbers for so many decades. Rote algorithms for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division taught in elementary school are the foundation of this vacuous philosophy.

It could even be responsible for the public's acceptance of no gold standard for the dollar. They're not demanding to know what the reference point of "one dollar" is.

And of course it's the Federal Reserve that can print endless money for the war in Iraq, thank to the lack of a gold standard.

So there you have it -- lack of units in programming languages and the war in Iraq have a common cause: the lack of correct philosophy on numbers taught in schools.

Re:Philosophy of numbers (4, Insightful)

ispeters (621097) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757659)

It could even be responsible for the public's acceptance of no gold standard for the dollar. They're not demanding to know what the reference point of "one dollar" is.

And of course it's the Federal Reserve that can print endless money for the war in Iraq, thank to the lack of a gold standard.

I was agreeing with you completely until you said that. There can be no reference point for "one dollar". A currency system lifts the burden of a barter system from its users. Without the dollar, you'd have to bake bread and swap it for internet connectivity, or something. How much bandwidth can you get for a loaf of bread? The same question applies to the dollar. Currency is a tangible way to represent the virtual concept of value. There is no unitary value of value so there can be no fixed unitary value for a currency. A free-floating currency values itself according to what its users think it's worth, which is, IMHO, the only sane way to value a virtual concept.

Ian

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