What makes a good Java Website?

How are Java community sites helping you today?

In mid- to late 1995, during the JDK 1.0 alpha and beta days, any Website that had anything to do with Java was well known to most Java developers. There were, of course, a few that were more familiar than others; JARS (Java Applet Rating Service) and Gamelan were two such sites. There were others such as DigitalExpresso and "How Do I?" that did not last beyond 1996. Then came the mother of all Java developer communities, Sun Microsystems' Java Developer Connection (JDC). Sun tried to charge developers for that site but within a couple of months decided to offer it for free when people didn't bite.

A new breed

A new breed of Java community sites is taking Java-related Websites to the next level. Those Websites include TheServerSide.com, jGuru, and several others (see Resources below). And let's not forget the JDC, a site that now has more than one million members.

Each of those sites is unique is some way or another. However, they also share common features such as discussion forums, chats, online articles, and links to valuable resources. The JDC, of course, has the luxury of being owned by Sun and can, therefore, offer things such as early access release of Sun's Java APIs. Being owned by Sun also means that the site has substantial resources behind it.

Smaller players such as jGuru and TheServerSide.com have to offer unique services to stand out. jGuru's niche is FAQ pages on technologies such as JSP, EJB, Tomcat, and others. TheServerSide.com offers resources dedicated to J2EE, such as architecture/design patterns, discussion forums, and events.

And as if there weren't enough sites out there already, my company recently launched the iSavvix Java Community. Features include a service called DevSpace, a free JSP hosting site with access to JDBC and XML APIs, and FreeBack.com, a secure Java/Web-based file storage site.

What do you need?

Online articles and discussion forums such as the ones provided by JavaWorld and other sites obviously add a lot of value because they are a great source of information sharing and learning. But here are a few questions I would like your input on:

  • What features/content would you add to the community Websites?
  • Which sites do you visit the most?
  • How often do you return to those sites?
  • How do they help you? What features are most useful?
  • Will those free Websites survive the dot-com crunch?
  • Are there any services from those Websites that you would pay for?
  • Is one Java community site, such as Sun's JDC, enough?

Write to me and let me know. Or post your comments in the iSavvix Soapbox forum.

Anil Hemrajani is chief technology officer at iSavvix, a technology services firm for full-service Java and Internet technology solutions. He welcomes your comments and questions about this column.

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