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Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

Sysadmin blog Java is horrible and I hate it.

Good, now there's a strong intro: attention grabbing, and it gets the natives all riled up. Sadly, the extremist sentiment of my statement is not that far from the truth. Hating or loving a logical construction such as a programming language is irrational, illogical and otherwise nonsensical. As a human being with an emotional reaction to the world around me, it is increasingly unavoidable.

Some portion of my inappropriate Java hatred comes from the language's forced indoctrination in university. Java was my first experience of object-oriented programming. It was taught alongside too much maths and - in my youthful opinion of the day - inadequate amounts of alcohol and time spent with the opposite sex.

I wrote a few crappy programs in Java that could do some basic things. After a year or so of this I then decided that I'd much rather do anything else other than be a developer for a living. I eventually went into systems administration. The joke was on me with that choice; by becoming a sysadmin, I ended up just having to learn a greater diversity of languages. I did not escape software development.

As a systems administrator, I have become forcibly familiar with the pointy end of a decade's worth of educational policy. Having "da youf" cutting their collective teeth on everyone's favourite write-once, run-anywhere language has had mixed results for our industry, and is finally starting to fall into disfavour. This is an argument that will go back and forth for years, but I am selfishly in favour of anything that results in the decrease in use of this wretched programming language.

For starters, this notion of "write once, run anywhere" never really worked. Junior developers don't test their apps for cross-platform functionality. Even senior developers can and do make the mistake of developing entirely for their environment. Hearing "but it works on my computer", albeit with their specific version of a Java VM on a particular patch level of that operating system, marks the start of a long day for any sysadmin.

One solution is to deploy a containerised version of a Java VM with the application. Most devs don't do this, and if you rely on multiple Java-powered applications you run into the wonderful situation wherein you have multiple apps that are mission critical; each that require different flavours of Java. Yay.

For reasons incomprehensible, companies exist today still utterly reliant on Java applets coded just slightly after the world-altering technological advancement of bashing two rocks together. These abominations usually run in the browser and I have seen cases in the wild of organisations requiring Browsium to manage JVM version deltas.

Bear in mind that Java likes to compete with Flash for the least secure mainstream web browser extension ever created - and a patch for the latest JVM flaws isn't due until mid-October from Oracle. It is thus absolutely ridiculous to me that there are developers today designing new applications relying on Java in the browser. I don't possess a rich enough vocabulary to adequately express the depth of the professional disillusionment, scorn and anger I feel for these individuals.

It is possible to code Java applications that are excellent. The ubiquity of the language as a primary educational tool has unfortunately made these the exception rather than the rule. So I hate Java; not because there's anything inherently wrong with the language, but because of a decade's worth of people who still haven't figured out how to use it as designed. ®

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