Though it is well known that Java has never been the language of choice for great hackers, I am convinced that great hackers were active in the Java space, at least in the early days, when people (including me) were trying to figure out where Dancing Duke could possibly take us.
Nowadays, Java has the reputation to have become the new Visual Basic, ie the language that Grandma uses for her quick and dirty programming. What common sense refers to Grandma in that case is not the wise old timer but the programmer who has not found another way of paying his bills and who punches keys to kill time until pay day.
This reputation hurts people who try very hard to practice like good craftsman and are by default assimilated with the crowd. It is nowadays hard to present yourself as a Java Developer without adding extra words like skilled or seasoned or whatnot-that-sounds-a-little-shiny, unless you feel that sounding like a perfect schmuck is acceptable as a conversation starter.
But rejoice my fellow Java programmers! After two intense days spent at SpringOne 2006, let me tell you that there is hope, light and future in our field.
There is a Java that is productive and robust, scalable and maintainable, professional and fun! A Java that no JSR has turned into a maze full of traps and pitfalls or into an altar for preaching the gospel of a particular vendor. There is a Java that can peacefully withstand Microsoft .NET and Ruby On Rails (the latter being even more of a true competitor).
This Java is brought to us by the efforts, dedication and rigor of the Spring Framework development team.
And this Java is not Grandma's.