Ripples from the pond

Java 8 is the biggest change to the syntax of the JVM since generics in Java 5

Lucy Carey
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JFrog CTO Yoav Landman on why the “welcome” new release has put innovation back into the heart of the platform, and the big looming modularity issue.

Yoav
Landmand, CTO of  Jfrog – the creators of open source
repository manager Artifactory and software distribution platform
Bintray – shares his expert analysis of Java 8, and how he thinks
the next generation of software from Oracle will impact the
Javasphere as a whole.

JAX: To what extent do you feel that Oracle
have succeeded with this release?

Landman: I think that this release is
quite a success. Mainly because of the very important features that
I guess would otherwise drive people to use languages other than
Java. People were getting tired with Java and saying Oracle are not
innovating enough, so with Java 8 they’ve really pushed it and
tried to give developers some hope – which they delivered at the
end of the day. All the functional stuff that they added into the
language is a big and welcome change.

Do you think that there’s anywhere
Oracle could have done better? For example, a lot of developers
were upset that Project Jigsaw didn’t make it in this time
around.

For us that was a little bit disappointing too –
mainly because we are all about delivering and managing modular
software. We really had high hopes for a lot of fields. They may
have missed the train with Project Jigsaw. When you introduce such
a big change, as long as you’re in an ecosystem, you need to have
the whole ecosystem comply – so I hope it’s not too late for
it.

I know they made a lot of changes in the VM itself
just to make it ready so it can be a lot more modular, but other
systems outside the JVM are trying to solve the same problems, and
for now people are managing. But I really hope there will be some
low level support in the JVM itself to remove all the isolation
between modules – that would be great – but it’s a bit
disappointing that it didn’t happen this time.

“Modularity remains a problem in Java”
: do you think this will ultimately harm the popularity of the
platform, or do you think other new features will override these
issues?

I think that the modularity issue is something that
people have gotten around. People have learnt to walk around it in
so many ways that they will keep doing it. But the new constructs –
the lambdas…default interface methods…things like that, are
things that Java people really envied in other programming
languages, and made them turn to the side and see whether they
should move or not. I think they will manage to gain people in Java
by having those features.

The community were a big part in this
release – but do you think there’s anything in this release that
developers will struggle to adapt to?

For people coming from other languages with functional
constructs like Groovy, for example, it’s kind of an easy move. I
say kind of, because when you program in Java you still have old
habits, and the syntax is a lot different. In fact, I think Java 8
is the biggest change in syntax to the JVM since generics in Java 5
so I’m sure some people will find it challenging. It will also take
some time to get used to the new languages and new APIs that are in
the core of the JDK right now.

What does Java 8 mean for
JFrog?

We have two kinds of products, cloud products and
portable products. For the cloud products – especially Bintray
 - we already started experimenting with Java 8 features in
some of the components. It’s an easy migration for us because we
have full control over the roadmap. And if we think our code could
look nicer or some cool features or new libraries are going to be
helpful we can try it out.

For Artifactory, we are really in the hands of our
customers, because they don’t go and upgrade so often, even if they
are a startup. Last time we went from Java 6 to Java 7, I think it
took people around two years to do the move on the server side. The
early adopters probably moved after six months, but altogether it
took around two years for Java 7 to become more popular than 6.

Do think that Java 8 poses a serious
threat to the other JVM languages that it’s taken features
from?

I’m not sure. Other languages, such as Scala for
example – they have the biggest advantage. A lot of programmers are
really keen on keeping the languages moving forward without
breaking compatibility. With Java it’s not the case.

It’s kind of an expectation in many languages today
that when you upgrade libraries, and when you move to new
frameworks you refactor a lot. Even if you don’t upgrade your
dependencies, you refactor your code a lot and it’s kind of OK on
many occasions to refactor when you upgrade, even when you upgrade
the language, so it allows the language to move forward a lot
faster.

 

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