Over the past couple months I had the pleasure of working in a Java shop. Up to this point I've spent most of my time in the .NET realm. Working with Java was a great chance to experience the similarities and contrasts between environments, cultures, and web application implementations. Here are a couple of my observations.
Java developers are more knowledgeable than the typical .NET developer. Java developers tend to gravitate towards complexity, Linux, UNIX, open source, and continuous learning. They are less familiar with the wizards and drag-n-drop style development that often characterize .NET development. The Java developers I worked with didn't depend on a single unified IDE (like Visual Studio), instead each developer chose their text editor / environment (Emacs, Eclipse, TextMate, E-TextEditor, and jEdit were all being used on a single project). Each developer was responsible for being productive with their editor; and took responsibility for learning shortcuts, and other performance enhancing techniques. This broad use of editors placed an emphasis on the core command line tools which ensured that developers knew how the application was put together, and cultivated broad application troubleshooting skills within the team.
Unified IDEs (like Visual Studio or Eclipse) do not result in faster development, better developers do. Developers empowered with the ability to choose their development environment / text editors / operating system resulted in more passion and responsibility. Informal friendly rivalry between editor users drove development faster while providing diversity within the work place.
Programming languages and technology stacks don't matter to experienced software developers. As a developer it's easy to become a fanboy of languages or technologies stacks, but… they don't matter – writing good software within the bounds of our project do. There's no reason to be tied to a specific language or technology stack. Sure, languages fall into a specific category (dynamic, static, classical inherited, prototypical inherited) but programming languages are very similar.
Steve McConnell has been saying this all along:
mastering more than one language is often a watershed in the career of a professional programmer. Once a programmer realizes that programming principles transcend the syntax of any specific language, the doors swing open to knowledge that truly makes a difference in quality and productivity. – Steve McConnell, Code Complete 2nd Edition