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Friday, March 11, 2011

What is java used for

Java is a highly popular programming language and computer platform originally developed in 1995 by Sun Microsystems when the existing software, called OAK, was renamed. According to the Java website, 850million worldwide use Java and the software is claimed to be integral to a wide variety of computing functions including business intranet applications and other e-business software.

Java runs on something called the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) which consists of the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), Java platform core classes and supporting Java libraries. The JRE enables you to run the software in your web browser.

Originally Java was intended for the television industry but it became apparent that the software was too advanced for the cable technology of the time. Java incorporates a function called 'Write Once, Run Anywhere' which means that the code can be written on a PC but also used on a wide variety of other devices that use JVM such as Java-enabled cell phones, routers and mainframes. It does this by using something called Java Bytecode which can be interpreted by the JVM. The intention behind this is to eliminate the situation whereby a software developer has to rewrite the programming language to suit a different machine. Unfortunately, this hasn't worked as well as it was originally hoped since there can be many Java implementations alongside other operating systems such as Windows, Mac OS and Linux. This has led to some developers re-christening Java as 'Write once, debug everywhere'.

In its early forms Java had a reputation for being rather slow in comparison to programs written in the usual C. However in 1998, Java 1.1 was released with Just-in-time compilation (JIT) also known as dynamic translation, the function of which is to speed up the execution of the bytecode. Java also uses an automatic garbage collector in order to manage memory automatically. This can activate at any time but is most likely to activate when a machine is idle.

In 2006 Sun released Java as open-source software and versions of it can now be freely downloaded. The website claims that it's an essential piece of software on the basis that many websites and applications, including online gaming, won't run without it. I certainly remember the odd occasion when a piece of software has failed on me because I didn't have Java installed and so I have now installed a free version on my PC just before writing this. In addition, for those who want to use Java for programming, I would mention there are a load of tutorials available on the internet from the business software website Oracle. If you want to learn programming using Java it might therefore be worth your while downloading those as well.

1 comment:

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