Another draft review but this one is big

Early plans for extensive annotations in Java SE 8

Chris Mayer
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An early draft review of JSR 308 shows the fight for some new Java schematics – annotations everywhere!

In recent weeks, we’ve seen a flurry of JSRs appear with some
bright early ideas on where we may be heading for Java SE 8 over
the next year of development. Java spec lead Alex Buckley has
stepped up with his
JSR 308 Early Draft Review
, which could bring about some
fundamental changes to the language.

Buckley reveals that JSR 308 plans to extend the Java
language in Java SE 8 so that annotations may appear on essentially
any use of a type. This is a shift away from the generalising SE 7
that permits annotations only on declarations, enabling new
uses such as the Checker
framework
. JSR 308 will still be backward-compatible, though,
and continues to permit those annotations.

Also present with the Early Draft is information regarding
class file support and sketches showing interactions with
other language features planned for Java SE 8. APIs
for reflection (java.lang.reflect) and annotation
processing (JSR 269’s javax.lang.model) will be
included within the next milestone review. Reference implementation
will also shift across to OpenJDK alongside this.

The document specifies the syntax of extended Java annotations,
but it makes no commitment as to their semantics, given that this
is still dependent on compiler plugins. Within the PDF,
Buckley covers some of the changes that he wishes to be implemented
for Java SE 8 and reveals the key drivers for that decision,
saying:

This proposal does not change the compile-time, load-time, or
run-time semantics of Java. It does not change the abilities of
Java annotation processors as defined in JSR 269. The proposal
merely makes annotations more general — and thus more useful for
their current purposes, and also usable for new purposes that are
compatible with the original vision for annotations.

JSR 308 does not extend Java to allow annotations on type names
that are not type uses, such as the type names that appear in
import statements, class literals, static member accesses, and
annotation uses.

It is worth checking out the document in full to see just some of the
thinking behind Buckley’s proposals. There’s some interesting
changes afoot for Java 8.

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