J2ME: Write Once, Be Disappointed Everywhere

We developers and other nerdy folk are used to using strange and klunky applications that do something special, and we’re used to that trade-off.

Eclipse is an IDE so it’s hard to imagine it not being baroque and difficult to use, requiring weeks of effort to become productive. JBidWatcher has saved me a lot of money on eBay so I could probably put a dollar value on how much it’s worth to endure its bizarre UI. Azureus is fairly fugly also but it does a very good job and has a deep, sophisticated UI that’s fairly easy to understand, so despite the eyesore, it’s at least fairly clear. The common thread among all of these is that they are all written in Java, and that they are so valuable that it’s worthwhile to overlook the ugly UIs.

Now imagine those sorts of trade-offs, but on already difficult to use mobile devices, and aimed at consumers. Are you making a strategically wise choice by sacrificing usability and control over the user interface, and probably access to platform-specific features such as dialing the phone, in order to save money on development? Adam Breindel talks about this in When Building a Smartphone App, Resist the Siren Song of J2ME.
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The Mozilla Platform’s Catch-22 Problem

Starting with Netscape 4.5, I’ve used Netscape, then Mozilla, then Thunderbird for email. I have a similar relationship with Firefox. I’ve watched with great hope and been disappointed over the years as Thunderbird bugs that really annoy me just… stay. I think I know why. It’s because Firefox and Thunderbird are built in such a way as to create a catch-22 situation — one that actually discourages new contributors.
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