Java 'Web beast' invades halls of higher learning

Auckland University reports a shortage of Java skills in New Zealand as businesses undertake trial projects with the programming language.

Auckland University reports a shortage of Java skills in New Zealand as businesses undertake trial projects with the programming language.

"We have a shortage of Java programmers in New Zealand right now," says computer science lecturer Rick Mugridge, who says his department has been fielding calls from employers looking for Java programmers.

Relief is at hand, with 300 Auckland stage three students expected to have completed Java courses by the end of the year.

Next year the university will introduce Java course at stage two level and, in the second semester, to stage one students. Wellington's Victoria University will begin teaching Java next year as well.

"The New Zealand computer industry is generally interested in Java and it is a good language to teach--it is small and uncomplicated, unlike C++. It has a lot of nice properties as well as being platform-independent."

Mugridge believes Java will make up much of New Zealand software development in an industry which tends toward database and client-server applications.

"I've never seen a programming language get accepted so fast. It really is a 'beast of the Web' and it's due to the Web that it's been able to spread so quickly."

Sun subsidiary JavaSoft has announced a set of application programming interfaces (APIs) which will be added to Java, as well as a set of Java Standard Extension APIs. Mugridge says the APIs include 2D and 3D graphics, easy access to databases, systems for collaboration and electronic commerce.

"I've seen a lot of toy things done with Java but now there are quite a few solid applications. National Semiconductor, for instance, has stopped publishing handbooks for its products and now provides applets to search and retrieve information on the topic you want."

Mugridge runs some courses on Java through the New Zealand Computer Society and is organising a Java conference for August 8 and 9. For more information, contact Mugridge on email: rick@cs.auckland.ac.nz.

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