CIO East Africa (Nairobi)

13 December 2012

Kenya: Oracle Remains Vigilant On Java's Future

The Java programming language is big on the server side and with continual support from Oracle; its future promises robust applications more than just the markup language functionalities in the enterprise space. Having been around for 17 years, the language continues to evolve in order to accommodate modernized and innovative applications, this is through basing its platform on developer's productivity, setting an easy way for them to write code and deploy solutions.

At an Oracle Developer's Open day event early this week in Nairobi, Simon Ritter, Technology Evangelist at Oracle Corporation said they are vigilant on ensuring the future of Java as a programming language is bright. He said this will be possible through having an open and transparent evolution where communities are involved in improving the language's standards for example the Java user groups.

Ritter pointed out new strategies for Java which included the Java SE, that is associated with the mobile phones, and how different devices can be connected in one network (The internet of things concept). JavaFX/Client, on the other hand helps developers re-invent applications with flash, feature-rich, style able, and extensible user interface components which also allows for high definition cross platform media support.

Formerly known as Java 2 platform, Java EE is part of this new strategy meant for the Enterprise Server side, it hosts coordinated technologies that significantly reduce the cost and complexity of developing, deploying, and managing multi-tier, server-centric applications.

Then there is the Java Card platform, which is now supported in NetBeans. It enables application development for smart cards and other micro devices. "SIM cards use Java, which has the ability to provide secure connection, a rich ecosystem of securing applications and a building block for embedded security", says Ritter.

All these reside under the Java programming language platform and they are meant to enable developers use more and more of the language to build applications. The language founded its way into embedded devices and according to Ritter, it will be used to connect vehicles with more computing power to communicate, smart electricity meters and in networking systems, sensors and microcontrollers.

A recent case study where most of this extended Java platform was used in Niger UNHCR was to build an emergency response system used to register over 60,000 people in the Mali situation, early this year.

Dubbed "Level one registration", this application won the UNHCR Duke's choice award 2012. It solved the difficult problem of deploying and managing infrastructure that would have then been used to collect data and statistics of people during the emergency time.

"The application, built on NetBeans was used to capture information of over 60,000 people", said Stanyslas Matayo, the Data Manager UNHCR. The frontend of the application runs on NetBeans 7.0, a modular Java Swing Rich client platform, with a runtime container for life cycle management of the application and also helped in branding the app, & provided an advanced UI presentation framework.

Speaking also at the event, Eva Murira, Account manager, Oracle University says 9600 IT professionals will be added to the Kenyan workforce by the end of 2013. But at the moment software developers are least available (9%) in the technology field. She says more developers are required that's why the organization keeps on training them through its various programmes.

Murira however said they should be well prepared for the job market by acquiring the right technical skills on the new innovations, "The technology system is demanding things faster than before, therefore there is need to learn and find unique solutions faster enough", said Murira. Developers need a well understanding of algorithm, system architecture and end user requirements.

"Developers should adopt a leadership mindset; they should be able to take challenges, master technology by using media information wisely and embrace change by being a lifelong learner", said Murira.

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