Monthly Archives: November 2011

Job Ads Are A Valid Indicator Of Programming Language Acceptance

I found an article from a mystery blogger here called Job Ads Do Not Reflect Programming Language Popularity that covered my post on Scala, Groovy, Clojure, Jython, JRuby and Java: Jobs by Language. It’s well written and pretty fair and I think that anyone who found the my original article interesting should go over there and read it. That said, there are a few points that I’d like to expand on if you will indulge me.

1) The job percentage of 3.5% for Java is across ALL jobs on not just IT related ones (there are 2x as many Java jobs as there are listings for accountants 🙂 ) which makes the 3.5% value quite respectable.

2) The stats do seem to imply that Scala and Groovy have far more momentum than Clojure. I know some real Clojure fans but compared to the relevant Scala and Groovy user groups they seem to be a little more active. Also, both Scala and Groovy have killer weapon in the Akka and Grails frameworks. I don’t know if the same can be said for Clojure (Noir?) and would be happy to be proven wrong. I don’t think that the importance of having these weapons can be underestimated. It gives both languages great leverage in getting in the door of businesses and once they are in the door then I would expect more general usage to follow.

In the original article I showed the graph below and mentioned that it was likely that Scala would overtake Jython and that in fact, Scala’s growth rate had overtaken Groovy’s (although with a caveat that it was only a few data points and so could be a ‘flash in the pan’).

Now this is the same graph 6 weeks later…

It looks like I was right on both predictions (cue outrageous smugness!) but they both seemed reasonably obvious. The one thing I did not guess was the Groovy’s grow rate would have stalled like it has. I hope it’s only temporary.

The author goes on to give a very good time line of the development of a language but doesn’t mention that crossing the chasm is the hardest thing for any language and that’s where both Scala and Clojure are right now.

3) I completely agree with the average Java developer caring less for programming since it is currently the default language of the majority. By this fact you will find more close-to-the-mean programmers using it than any other language. Given the volume of jobs out there the stickiness of the jobs can’t be that different and because of this I think that job listings are a valid metric of the industry acceptance of a language. Even if they are only slightly indicative, you would have to show that jobs in other languages are 60x stickier to be on a par with Java or that Clojure jobs are 6x stickier than Scala jobs.

4) I hope that I never gave the impression that if you are a Java developer that you shouldn’t bother to learn new JVM languages. I completely agree with my mystery friend that knowing new languages makes you more employable. As someone deeply involved in the recruitment process at my current employer I can personally attest to this. I would go as far as to suggest that knowing more languages makes you a better programmer since it exposes you to more ways of doing the same thing. More tools in your toolbox gives you a better chance of picking the right one and using it correctly.

As for whether my final paragraph was too strong, I can only say that I call ’em as I see ’em. Yes I am a bigger fan of Scala and Groovy than I am of Clojure but please don’t take this as evidence that I am somehow against Clojure. Clojure is a beautiful language but it suffers from the fact that it lacks the aforementioned ‘weapon’ and is just so different from Java that companies will shy away from it worried about how long it will take them to spin up their entire workforce, not just their elite teams.

Maybe I can phrase it differently this time; it doesn’t matter whether you are a Java developer or not, the best thing you can do is to read “Seven Languages in Seven Weeks: A Pragmatic Guide to Learning Programming Languages” by Bruce Tate. Learning Ruby, Io, Prolog, Scala, Erlang, Clojure, Haskell will do great things for anyone’s understanding of programming languages.


Jetty 8 Maven Plugin

I love how easy it is to integrate Jetty into a Maven build but for some reason, all the examples use a 3 year old version of Jetty. Trying to find the latest version of an artefact can be a bit of a pain so here it is 🙂


Staying Sharp: Playing With New Technologies

My work has kicked into top gear in the last couple of weeks. I’ve had so many demands on my time that I have been unable to do any coding. Now I know that that is part and parcel of being a Tech Lead but the moment you step away from the code you start to lose the qualities that make you so useful to the business, i.e. being able to stick your nose into the codebase and shout “Yep, I know what this bit does.”

So I’ve been spending a few hours every night keeping my skills sharp on a project that a) has a direct impact on what I do everyday and b) is bloody good fun. How much fun I here you ask? So much that my wife forced me to sleep in the “huff” bed (the spare room – where you go when you are too angry or too drunk to sleep together) since I kept talking about what I was doing.

So what is it? Some multi-threaded mayhem of course!

Not really of course. I regard manual thread manipulation and the last refuge of fools and geniuses and I ain’t either. My current project is a web application which makes a large number of concurrent requests for each page request. We use various bits of the java.util.concurrent libs to do this. This works great but at scale can cause issues since each thread takes a few MB. Once you’ve spun up a couple of thousand of them, your machine has eaten itself. A solution to this would be to use Actors instead and since the excellent Akka framework can be used in Java and not just Scala I thought I would give it a go. At the same time, since it was a home project I thought I would use Git for version control.

I finished up the project today and it’s pretty cool. Akka’s syntax in Java is comparatively clunky to its syntax in Scala but I’ve seen far worse. Some perf testing on Monday should show what difference it makes and if it is good enough I might take it to the next LJC meeting.

Off to Velocity EU…

I’m flying out to Velocity EU tomorrow and I can’t wait. There are too many sessions to cover all of them but hopefully I’ll be able to report back on a few.

There is a kick-ass line up (no real surprise given that this is one of the best conferences in the world) including Josh Bixby, Steve Souders and my mate Tim Morrow. Now I’ve had a sneak peek at Tim’s and it covers some of the journey as create a new world class web experience that combines blinding performance with improved customer features in a package that fits the business model.

It’s going to be great!