Just like that first cup of coffee in the morning, Java will continue to be an important part of most IT developers' jobs. Developers are seeing increased demand for Java and XML Web-development skills, but such skills are in short supply, according to independent commercial Web site DevX's 2002 Java/Application Development Market And Brand study of 14,000 IT developers.
Sun Microsystems' effort to define the standard for developing multitier enterprise applications by allowing the use of standardized, modular components has paid off. Its Java 2 Enterprise Edition is the most prevalent Java tool in use, cited by 77% of respondents.
Fewer than half of the sites surveyed by the Adams Co. for DevX rely on Sun's older Java Development Kit 1.x. These businesses will need to consider an upgrade, especially if the application development tool's use depends on technical support. Java Development Kit 1.x is on Sun's "end-of-life" list, meaning the company has already phased out support for the product. Also, only 13% of respondents use Sun's Java 2 Micro Edition, Sun's Java programming platform for mobile devices such as cellular phones, pagers, and PDAs.
The study also looked at the latest ways companies are deploying Java-based applications. Topping the list are database management and access, cited by 69% of respondents, and Web-based data entry and retrieval, named by 66% of respondents.
For more than half the respondents, product reliability and downtime are the key factors when choosing a vendor of Java-development tools. Nearly one in five base their choice on price.
Although the study predicts strong growth will occur across all developer segments, legacy applications and a general lack of staff experience with Java development platforms may hamper plans to deploy Java.
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There's no single dominant factor that will drive Java adoption over the next 12 to 18 months, the DevX study finds. A quarter of the IT developers surveyed say the effectiveness of the Web as a platform will spur a company's use of Java. Other drivers for one in five participants include the need to reduce development costs and Java's ability to meet performance specifications.
Looking ahead, the decision to use Java depends upon numerous factors such as a company's dedication to open-source operating-system platforms, available application development budget and resources, and the quality of available Java development tools.