Two months ago I started work as a Java developer at Bluerush Media Group. Shifting gears back into Java EE/JSP/Servlet and mostly backend work from Android development definitely took a while. On one hand my work now is hidden behind layers and layers of servers, middleware and other “businessy” systems. I definitely miss being able to have my work appreciated by many people. Now only my fellow developers can compliment or complain about my work. But on the other hand, I enjoy working with tested and tried technologies and platforms. No more worrying about inconsistencies between devices. No more fretting about what systems I communicate with. No more frustrating moments of dealing with performance and optimization issues. Instead there is more than enough computational power lying around that automation and abstraction become powerful tools to approaching and solving problems. I feel less guilty about using some crazy library to configure itself, gather the necessary data and build part of the system for me. In short, as with everything in life there are pros and cons to my work.
Just recently I discovered the joy of using JAXB. It is mindbogglingly convenient to build entire packages of Java model classes from a single XML schema, and having JAXB handle the serialization and deserialization of Java models into XML and back again. Using JAXB, some XML configuration files, a TestNG suite and some result data in CSV form, I could build out a pretty sweet and rather involved automated testing setup. This let me run real stress tests on the application I am working on and letting me flesh out the code much faster and with greater confidence. Or take the use of dependency injection from Spring or Guice, to help a developer initialize a large number of objects with complicated dependencies without getting lost. The amount of automation and abstraction in Java EE is simply overwhelming. However it does come with a price: complexity. So while using the full power of Java EE and various libraries gives my applications a lot of capability, they also make the applications terribly complex. It only gets more complex, the more “enterprisey” the application becomes. There is simply no way I could even build the applications that I do, without having lots of complex tools such as a full-on IDE like Eclipse.
This brings me to the point of my post. At same time as I delved further into Java EE, I am getting more and more interested in Python and Django. After playing around a tiny bit with PySide building Qt apps in Python, and looking into Django I am surprised by how terse yet functional Python is. Yes, Python being a scripted language will never outperform a compiled program (or even byte-code compiled Java app) in terms of performance. But looking at how much computing power is available and how many more steps it takes to write a Java or other compiled source app… I wonder if programming in something like Python can not be more efficient. What I am especially curious to find out is if one can build and maintain a large complex web app as one can in Java EE, but in Django and Python. Basically I am curious of the capability of an app is proportional to its complexity. Or is this just an illusion from living with a language and platform that lets you easily craft monolithic monsters? Can one get the same results with good architecture, some smart engineering and a flexible language?