OS/2 eZine

16 July 2000

Christopher B. Wright is the Editor in Chief of OS/2 eZine, a title he tried to duck for many months with little success. When he's not working on OS/2 eZine (what? he's not supposed to have any other jobs!) he works on his web comic strip, Help Desk.

If you have a comment about the content of this article, please feel free to vent in the OS/2 eZine discussion forums.

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Wright's View

IBM VisualAge for Java: Idiot-Savant at Large... minus the "Savant" part.

Recently, the development team for IBM's VisualAge for Java announced that they would no longer be developing their product for OS/2. Here is an excerpt of a post sent to one of IBM's newsgroups concerning this decision (this information was first reported on OS/2.org):

IBM won't ship VisualAge for Java 3.5 for OS/2.
This clarification was sent to the newsgroup
ibm.software.vajava.non-technical 2000-06-30:

The OS/2 operating system is recommending that developers move to a platform neutral environment for the deployment of e-business applications by mid next year. Based on this decision, the VisualAge for Java team had very strong discussion about developing a 3.5 for OS/2 or not. I was part of the discussion. It seemed reasonable to not deliver a product that will be obsolete by mid next year. I am sure a lot of you will disagree. What we want is for you to be able to work on your platform of choice and to support you. If OS/2 decides you should migrate, why should our team say something else. I understand you do not agree with the OS/2 decision of asking you to migrate. What I do not understand is why are you blaming the decision of not providing a tool.

Knowing that, I believe the OS/2 will help each of us successfully migrating to another platform. And once again I will be frank. If you decide to migrate to a non IBM development environment because of that, I will be sad, I will understand your decision and I will wish you good luck in the future. If you decide to use VisualAge for Java we will make sure we support everything you do. OS/2 is still supported as a deployment environment with remote debug and EMSRV.

When I read this I found myself terribly confused. IBM claims that it has said clearly that it continues to support OS/2, only that it wants people to move to a "platform neutral environment." Supposedly this means that it doesn't care about your operating system, so long as you're using tools -- like Java -- that can run on all the platforms IBM supports. This seems like a reasonable interpretation, even a logical one.

That's not the interpretation the VisualAge team used, however.

What kind of interpretation did they use? Well, I try to imagine the meeting that took place where this decision was made, and in my mind, it goes a bit like this:

Manager: "Guys, IBM wants everyone to move to a platform neutral environment. So we need to stop developing Visual Age for Java for OS/2."

Developer: "Why's that?"

Manager: "Because OS/2 is not a 'neutral platform.' If IBM is only supporting neutral platforms, then we can't support OS/2, because OS/2 is not neutral, it's OS/2."

Developer: "But OS/2 runs Java, which is a neutral platform."

Manager: "Yes, but VisualAge for Java doesn't run under java, it only creates Java programs. So it's not really platform-neutral either, but I don't want to stop developing VisualAge for Java, because that's my job. Instead, we'll just stop developing VisualAge for Java for OS/2."

Developer: "But if we stop providing that tool, OS/2 users won't be able to create platform-neutral applications."

Manager: "Then they'll have to migrate to an environment that is platform-neutral, like Linux or Windows."

Developer: "But Linux and Windows aren't platform-neutral! I mean, it's not like you can run a Linux application on a Windows machine..."

Manager: "I don't have time to listen to this. I have things to do. Right now I'm going to cover my ears and run into that wall over there as fast as I can, over and over again, until I pass out."

Now I can't swear that the conversation went exactly like that -- but I'm almost positive about that last line.

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