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If you can't make them join you, beat them!

A look at Microsoft's Java developer resources (this is not a typo).

With my tongue planted firmly in cheek, I started mulling over an interesting new development on the Microsoft Visual Studio pages this morning. Recognizing from time to time that its technologies aren't the only game in town, Microsoft occasionally attempts to reach out and co-opt other significant development communities. Hence, the June 4, 2004, appearance of Resources for Java Developers in Microsoft's Visual Studio Developer Center—or at least, that's my take on what's motivating this collection of information, resources, and more.

What you'll find here is a none-too-subtle attempt to inform Java programmers that their platform may be slipping from its "king of the hill" position. Starting with a pointer to a Forrester survey that reports that "...56% of enterprises surveyed will be using the .NET Framework as their primary development environment in 2005" and "...remaining enterprises will be using Java as their primary development environment" Microsoft is asserting its move into leadership position next year. It's also seeking to involve and expose Java programmers to its offerings in whatever ways it can.

Of course, the rivalry between J2EE and Java versus the .NET Framework, Visual Studio, and related languages is well-known and of some historical depth. The title of this tip (humor intended) notwithstanding, MS seems to be making a real effort to reach out to the other side of this rivalry in a pretty friendly fashion. Thus, the site is presented as "a collection of resources for Java developers interested in interoperability, migration, and development with the .NET Framework." In particular, they try to ferret out resources from MSDN and elsewhere that (presumably reformed) "...Java developers have told us are particularly useful." These include:

  • A collection of Getting Started resources that cover test drives, tutorials, starter kits and tools, third-party tools, plus patterns and practices.
  • Interoperability Resources, mostly in the form of chapters from Dr. Dobbs' Simon Guest's book Microsoft .NET and J2EE Interoperability Toolkit.
  • Migration resources, including pointers to J#.NET, the Java Language Conversion Assistant, and info about the Microsoft Java Virtual Machine.
  • Pointers to downloads, mostly for J#, VS.NET, and related tools and documents, along with links to all kinds of starter kits.

I'm not sure that Microsoft will win legions of Java developers to its tools and mindset, given the polarization of the two communities and the mutual distaste and distrust that comes so naturally under such circumstances. But you have to give them credit for trying, and those members of the Java community who are curious about what's happening in the other camp will find these materials easy to follow, if not swallow.

Ed Tittel is a full-time writer and trainer whose interests include XML and development topics, along with IT Certification and information security topics. E-mail Ed at with comments, questions, or suggested topics or tools to review.

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