JAX London 2014: A retrospective
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5 reasons to be excited about Java in 2014

JAXentereditorialteam
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Along with the big, and belated, number eight dropping, there are some good reasons to be hopeful about the platform in the next 12 months.

If you’re still feeling the after affects of a diligent regime of festive overindulgence, spare a thought for Oracle, which spent the bulk of 2013 battling with an almighty Java legacy issues hangover. We’ve got a feeling that those security holes will still be making the headlines in 2014, but, we can also expect some far cheerier developments. Here are our hot tips for the next 12 months – as ever, feel free to add your own mystical readings.

1. The Internet of Things is becoming a reality

Unless you failed to attend one solitary conference or trawl nary a single tech site last year, by now, you’ll be well aware of the growing movement to connect all of the things. If the most hyperbolic predictions come true, there will be billions of fully realised interconnected devices sprouting into the market in 2018. At the very least, we can expect a few million – and either way, that’s more than enough to prompt a ‘gold rush’ mentality for potential players in this brave new marketplace.

A good deal of the content at JavaOne gave lip service to the Internet of Things, and that buzz of conversation is only going to grow in 2014. Expect an active movement to control fragmentation in this developing sector, and, if our takings from the December ThingMonk event are anything to go on, an increased focus on design. There be treasure in them there talking toasters, and, for the moment, it’s anyone’s for the taking.

2. A polyglottal renaissance

Since the introduction of invokedynamic in Java 7, languages on the Java Virtual Machine have seen a Cambrian Explosion-style increase in diversity. The likes of Clojure and Scala have become viable alternatives to Java, but even outside of the JVM, there’s an industry-wide appreciation of different languages’ strengths and weaknesses – in part thanks to a move away from monolithic single-platform applications to modularised architectures. The most promising sign of this polyglot revolution is surely the continued popularity of Vert.x, which promises Node.js in any language.

3. Java 8 (and they really mean it this time)

What year is it again? Java SE 8 was supposed to arrive in 2012, bringing with it the missing parts of Java 7, but has been delayed and even had features cut. Now, two years on, the long-awaited update should finally appear on 18 March. It will bring closures in the form of Project Lambda, a new Date and Time API, a new JavaScript engine called Nashorn, Type Annotations, and Compact Profiles. With a developer preview now available, there’s every sign – and we hope this isn’t jinxing it – that it will finally see the light of day in 2014.

4. Java’s development is (slowly) becoming more open

since its inception for giving too much power to Sun (and later Oracle). It’s still very much a developing democratic process however, and over the past couple of years, meaningful change has emerged from the ground up. This has been largely driven by massive usergroups like the London Java Community and Brazil’s SouJava. The Adopt-A-JSR scheme, in which community members are encouraged to give detailed feedback on proposed Java features, has been so successful that even Oracle has embraced it.

5. Coding is becoming aspirational

This is far from exclusive to Java, but with trendy tech startups and so-called hacker culture beginning to reach the mainstream (through films like The Social Network and a possible TV show about the origins of Twitter), working in tech has lost much of the social stigma it once had. Code.org and Railsgirls are spearheading a drive to get kids coding, and companies like Codecademy are making the basics more accessible than ever before. All of this means previously neglected veins of potential talent are finally being tapped into, bringing with them a rich mix of new ideas and  approaches. For the understaffed, and largely homogenous industry, these developments can only be a good thing.

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