The next generation emerges with pieces missing

Java 8 won’t have Project Jigsaw, Expert Group formed

Chris Mayer
Jigsaw.1

Java 8 and Java SE 8 are stirring, with Chief Architect Mark Reinhold revealing more details of who is playing a part in August 2013’s big release. But no module system just yet!

New details have emerged surrounding Java 8, namely the names of the companies set to participate in its development heading towards August 2013, but also some important news about JDK 8.

Project Jigsaw, the implementation a standard module system for the Java SE Platform, and later the JDK, has been deferred until Java SE 9 – a proposal not taken lightly by Mark Reinhold, Chief Architect of the Java Platform Group at Oracle.

He wrote in the mailing list about the technical challenges:

Initial exploratory work toward these goals has been going on in Project Jigsaw in the OpenJDK Community [2]. Steady progress is being made but some significant technical challenges remain, and there is considerable risk that these will not be resolved in time for the proposed Final Release of Java SE 8 in August 2013.

There is, more importantly, not enough time left for the broad evaluation, review, and feedback which such a profound change to the Platform demands, both via this JSR (337) and, primarily, a forthcoming JSR to define a standard Java Platform Module System.

I therefore propose to defer the addition of a module system and the modularization of the Platform to Java SE 9. This is by no means a pleasant choice, but I think it’s preferable to delaying Java SE 8 until the modularity work is complete.

The reasons make sense – radicalising or to some reinvigorating Java with a modularised approach is badly needed, but time should be taken to make sure it is as close as possible to being correct. But many developers were banking on Project Jigsaw to be the cornerstone of Java SE 8 and moving forward. Where does this leave the language now? Surely it causes a knock-on effect to other areas of the Java ecosystem.

As Reinhold details in his blog about his proposal, the balancing act of features vs schedules is a tough one. This decision isn’t a surprising one, given a perceived lack of progress/silence from some. Stability is key though, hence this choice. The scope of Java 8 is big, for sure, but it’s a big loss.

Earlier, Reinhold also announced the arrival of the primary page for JSR 337 (or Java SE 8 Platform Umbrella), as in accordance of the Java Community Process (JCP). Alongside Reinhold representing Oracle, are Red Hat’s Andrew Haley, IBM’s Steve Poole and Google’s To Be Determined.

The internet giant have yet to put forward a candidate to aid Java 8’s development, but have, according to Reinhold, committed privately to the project. This didn’t stop some to speculate some sort of mystery was afoot on Twitter, only for Reinhold to promptly put them in their place with the following tweet: ‘jcp.org is database-driven, and won’t show Google until they actually nominate a representative. #noConspiracy‘. So that’s cleared up then. Google ought to get on with it.

A schedule for Java SE 8 has also appeared, under the guise of OpenJDK, with an Early Draft Review expected in September. This will then be followed by a Public Review phase in January 2013,a Final Draft in June 2013 before the home stretch towards August’s release date. Two mailing lists have been set up too – Experts for EG members to post/subscribe to (archives are public) and Observers for the minions to monitor and even offer opinion on progress being made.

It may seem a while away yet, but the plans for Java 8 have just become slightly clearer for the next year. That date will come round in no time at all. The omission of Project Jigsaw is understood but it was a big draw for the major update next year – now it’s gone, will Java 8 really be a gamechanger? We’re not so sure now. More pressure on Lambdas then…

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