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<Too Many New Features in Java? ⁄ >




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Certainly there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. One of Java's strengths is that it is a very simple language. This is one of the reasons why it has become so popular in the enterprise space.

However, I wouldn't go so far as to say all new language features are bad. Language features that truly simplify what we use the language for are good.

Generics, introduced in Java 5, are a good example of that (though their implementation is flawed.) The proposal to add reified generics to Java 7 is something I hope goes through since the added complexity or learning curve involved with generics ultimately pays off by reducing redundancy and increasing the maintainability of our applications. Its a lot easier to avoid problems at the enterprise level when I can tell the developers that this one generic class implements some feature, as opposed to having cut-and-pasted code or error-prone type-casts scattered around multiple classes. Eliminating erasure would help simplify things even further, since its one of the more problematic aspects of the feature; many developers find it confusing. Furthermore, generics allowed us to express ideas we couldn't before.

So, certainly, some language additions are good. And then you have all these other features people are clamoring for:

Closures are a popular request. I find that they are a convenient syntax in scripting languages like Ruby, but I never did understand why some people feel the need to add it to Java. They don't really add anything to the Java language that we can't already get using inner classes, or by creating interfaces declaring the methods we intend to pass around as callbacks. The most popular use of closures, as function delegates, are better implemented using typed classes with interfaces that express intent.



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