On the Java section of the Sys-con.com site today there's an interesting perspective from the Java side of things as to why people (the "cool kids") choose Ruby or PHP over Java despite some of the things it has to offer.
Here is a question that I have been pondering on and off for quite a while: Why do "cool kids" choose Ruby or PHP to build websites instead of Java? I have to admit that I do not have an answer. Why do I even care? Because I am a Java developer.
He wonders why, when the Java community, toolset and user base seems so strong, would developers opt for PHP/Ruby to build their "middleware logic". He suggests that maybe Java is more difficult to use so developers shy away from it. He does mention one things that could cause a the sway more towards these simpler languages - that Java could be overkill for a good number of the smaller sites out there.
Check out the comments on the post for more thoughts and ideas from both the PHP/Ruby and Java sides of the discussion.