Know Beans about Java

By Joe Callison
14 February, 2018

There is a lot of misunderstanding about Java, partially because of the confusion with the similar sounding JavaScript. Java was developed by Sun Microsystems almost 23 years ago. Sun was acquired by Oracle Corporation. Java was intended to be a “write once – run anywhere” programming language using a virtual machine that can be run on any processing platform.  
It is still one of the most popular general purpose programming languages in use today, and many corporate software systems are heavily based on it, though often using older Java versions such as Java 6 that have been modified for their purposes.

JavaScript was developed by Netscape Communications Corporation 22 years ago as a text based web design language to make it easier to implement images and games in web pages. The inclusion of Java in the name is said to have been a marketing ploy by Netscape to capitalize on the popularity of Java. The code is now interpreted by a JavaScript engine built into browser software instead of using a JavaScript plugin, and it is still one of the three main processes used for web development along with HTML and CSS.

The Java Plugin, now disabled in all modern browsers except Internet Explorer 11, was a way for Java code to be used in browsers and was installed with the Java run-time engine software installation that was also used by other software such as OpenOffice and LibreOffice. Because of the huge security problems created by allowing third-party plugins to modify browser code, they are no longer allowed and have been replaced by either code directly implemented in the browser software or by new web extensions that are kept more securely separated from the browser’s core software. For example, Google Chrome now has a built in Flash interpreter instead of using a Flash plugin. Both Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome browsers have the ability to open web pages with Internet Explorer if the need to access web sites using Java is encountered.

Keeping Java up to date on personal computers is important for security reasons if you need Java for any software or websites that you use. Normally it is recommended to uninstall old versions of Java from your computer, but occasionally a program requires a specific version in order to run even though a high degree of backwards compatibility is maintained in the newer versions. You should try uninstalling the old versions first and then if you have trouble running the software you can download and install the old version from the Java website again if you want to, but it would be best to update or install new software that does not require the old Java version if you can. Corporate systems that use old Java versions can do so because they continuously update them with security patches. A wise programmer (who is also related to me) said that a mature version of Java with 86 security patches can be more secure than a new version with a lot of newly released code and no security patches yet.

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