Java is actually more than a programming language. It is technology that was developed by Sun Microsystems which provides both a programming language and a platform that will run on any operating system. The programming language itself is an object-oriented format with some highly developed technical features. Java technology includes the Java virtual machine, which enables Java programs to run on your computer regardless of your operating system.
The Java platform has been issued in three editions: the Java 2 Platform, Standard Edition which is designed for desktop computers; the Platform Enterprise Edition that is targeted at servers; and Micro Edition which allows Java to operate on small consumer products such as PDAs.
Java was developed in the Sun labs in the early 1990s. It is a derivative of C++, a widespread object-oriented computer language that was almost universal in its use for writing consumer software programs since its introduction in the early 1980s. Java was formally introduced in 1994 and, in an early business victory, was incorporated into Netscape at the height of that browser’s popularity. The Java platform provided animation and interactivity features to the browser in the form of “applets,” small Java programs that would present a small animation clip, game or advertising feature, and that can run in a web browser.
Java’s popularity in browser format has been eroded by Macromedia’s Flash product; the Microsoft browser now rules the desktop universe and Java is no longer included in Explorer. Java has, however, emerged as the multimedia application of choice for many websites and so continues to thrive on the internet.
There are relatively few consumer software programs based on Java because of the computer resources required to run Java programs. Some file sharing programs utilize it and a version of it is being developed to compete with the Microsoft.net program. Java functions well in the server environment, with sufficient computing power to make the platform and programming run at an acceptable speed. Web services and enterprise programs use Java because it will run on any platform, making Java a useful component in networked services.
In the area of computer programming education, Java consumes its own courses and in some cases, is its own major for IT degrees. Kaplan University has an associate’s in information technology and an IT bachelor’s degree available, both specializing in Java programming.
There are IT certification programs for Java programming available through Sun and other sources. Online tutorials in Java are numerous, as there seems to be a large group of Java- oriented programming enthusiasts who post instructions for various Java uses, and offer tutorials in the several versions of Java that have been introduced since the original in 1994.
There are also a number of Java spin-offs designed to provide specific programs. Many of them are server-based functions that interact with web pages or provide a business function within a network. Java programming is a world of its own – its own language, its own platform, and its own linking apparatus to every major operating system. Java is a unique product that requires considerable dedication from the programmer but often produces favorable results.