Bruno Pedro

Like Java for content

Java original motto was (and still is) “Write once, run anywhere”. Software written in the Java language can run on virtually any computer platform, including mobile devices. The only catch: usually applications are sluggish because they tend to consume lots of memory.

Web content is following the same path. RSS and other forms of syndication enable content to be consumed anywhere without the need to rewrite it for every device you want to support. The only catch: devices need to understand the content distribution format (usually some variant of XML).

So, let’s find out what happened to Java since its debut. Java was born in the early 1990’s out of the hands of a couple of engineers at Sun Microsystems. In the beginning Java programs ran on an interpreted virtual machine, which made them run very slowly. With time, compilation techniques evolved into a just in time (JIT) compiler, and nowadays into a behavior based dynamic recompilation. This last technique is claimed to produce faster results than native compilation.

Web content is behaving similarly, I think. In the beginning you would run a piece of software for every different kind of content — remember the early BBS’es, Gopher, the Usenet, FTP and the early Web. You had a different application to consume each one of them. Nowadays most online content is served through the Web so you only need one application. XML became the lingua franca of the Web.

So, a piece of software is all it takes for you to consume content: first the browser and now the feed reader. You can run a feed reader in almost any device: your computer, your TV set, your mobile phone, you name it. In a few words, you can “Write once, consume anywhere”.