side effects outside of the system. As you will see, safety is also enhanced by certain
restrictions that exist in the Java language.
In general, when a program is compiled to an intermediate form and then interpreted
by a virtual machine, it runs slower than it would run if compiled to executable code.
However, with Java, the differential between the two is not so great. Because bytecode has
been highly optimized, the use of bytecode enables the JVM to execute programs much
faster than you might expect.
Although Java was designed as an interpreted language, there is nothing about Java that
prevents on-the-fly compilation of bytecode into native code in order to boost performance.
For this reason, Sun began supplying its HotSpot technology not long after Java's initial
release. HotSpot provides a Just-In-Time (JIT) compiler for bytecode. When a JIT compiler
is part of the JVM, selected portions of bytecode are compiled into executable code in real
time, on a piece-by-piece, demand basis. It is important to understand that it is not practical
to compile an entire Java program into executable code all at once, because Java performs
various run-time checks that can be done only at run time. Instead, a JIT compiler compiles
code as it is needed, during execution. Furthermore, not all sequences of bytecode are
compiled--only those that will benefit from compilation. The remaining code is simply
interpreted. However, the just-in-time approach still yields a significant performance boost.
Even when dynamic compilation is applied to bytecode, the portability and safety features
still apply, because the JVM is still in charge of the execution environment.
Ser vlets: Java on the Ser ver Side
As useful as applets can be, they are just one half of the client/server equation. Not long
after the initial release of Java, it became obvious that Java would also be useful on the
server side. The result was the servlet. A servlet is a small program that executes on the
server. Just as applets dynamically extend the functionality of a web browser, servlets
dynamically extend the functionality of a web server. Thus, with the advent of the servlet,
Java spanned both sides of the client/server connection.
Servlets are used to create dynamically generated content that is then served to the
client. For example, an online store might use a servlet to look up the price for an item in a
database. The price information is then used to dynamically generate a web page that is sent
to the browser. Although dynamically generated content is available through mechanisms such
as CGI (Common Gateway Interface), the servlet offers several advantages, including
Because servlets (like all Java programs) are compiled into bytecode and executed
by the JVM, they are highly portable. Thus, the same servlet can be used in a variety of
different server environments. The only requirements are that the server support the JVM
and a servlet container.
The Java Buzzwords
No discussion of Java's history is complete without a look at the Java buzzwords. Although
the fundamental forces that necessitated the invention of Java are portability and security,
other factors also played an important role in molding the final form of the language. The
key considerations were summed up by the Java team in the following list of buzzwords:
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