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Jan 21

The “killer app” phenomenon

Java, JavaScript, PHP, Tech Add comments

Cedric is talking about the killer app phenomenon as it related to programming language. Of course, the term killer app doesn’t quite fit so well with languages, but the abstract concept is “reason it hit a tipping point”.

For Java it wasn’t the Applet as Cedric pointed out. I think it is a mix of:

  • No more memory management (language feature)
  • C like (not a huge leap)
  • JVM worked OK on the server side (although a bit crap at first, ended up becoming top notch)

For PHP though, I think it is much clearer:

  • Deployment. PHP was built for the Web. Remember how painful Perl was back then? PHP fit the jump from CGI to “oh, to do rich dynamic stuff we can’t fork() every time”. PHP was easy to setup with Apache, it just worked, and soon it was deployed on all hosting providers. This is why it is still a winner for so many people
  • Simple, scripting based: easy to go from Perl to PHP. Easy enough for the people who liked the deployment issue to hack away (e.g. the non CSci folk)

And JavaScript? The killer app was Netscape, and the fact that it was like PHP in that people could hack away.

3 Responses to “The “killer app” phenomenon”

  1. Cedric Says:

    Hi Dion,

    These three reasons are why Java actually succeeded, but they are not why Java initially received hype (and if you think about them, they are really nothing to be excited about, there were plenty of languages meeting these requirements back then…).

    Same remark about PHP…

  2. Kevin Hooke Says:

    I agree with Cedric – if you think back to what everyone was initially talking about when Java first became ‘the next big thing’, everyone was raving about the ability to write animated Applets that could run in any browser running on any platform. The promise of ‘write once, run anywhere’ was also another much talked about feature at the same time, but I think this only became a benefit a few years later with JREs available for many different platforms.

  3. Web Design Company Says:

    I agree with Cedric why java is actually succeed .A killer app can refer to a generic type of application that hasn’t existed before, to a particular product that first introduces a new application type, or to any application with wide appeal.

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