What is the Future of Java?

JavaOne Report

Jessica Thornsby
JavaOne-Report

Thomas Kurian gives community an insight into the future of OpenJDK, Java SE, GlassFish and NetBeans.

The opening keynote of JavaOne – delivered by Thomas Kurian –
was eagerly anticipated. Unfortunately, it failed to completely
satisfy the Java community. During the keynote, Oracle made
substantial commitments to central Java projects such as OpenJDK,
NetBeans and GlassFish, but they neglected the truly explosive
topics.

Anyone who remembers the pomp and pathos of past JavaOnes, must
have been astonished at Oracle’s dry welcome of the Java community.
Although there were bursts of music, rapid videos and motivational
slogans (“9 million Java developers worldwide”, “Java is the No. 1
Programming Platform”, “3 Billion Java driven Mobile Phones” etc)
during the keynote, after that, it was back to business.

Java: OpenJDK
Lives!

Kurian had a clear message regarding
the future of OpenJDK: “Oracle remains committed to OpenJDK as the
the best open source Java implementation and we will continue to
improve OpenJDK and welcome external contributors.” The commercial
license of Java will be released in parallel.

The next version of the Standard
Edition (Java SE) will be released after the infamous ‘Plan B,’ as
introduced by Mark Reinhold via blog and Twitter. Reinhold had
previously asked the community if they would prefer a JDK 7 in two
years, or a reduced release in one year. The feedback showed a
clear preference for small, frequent releases, which means the
reduced JDK 7 will be released in summer 2011. This means that next
year’s JDK release will focus on features like support for
dynamically typed languages (JRS 292) while features such as
project Lambda and JigSaw will have to wait until JDK 8.

Top of Java’s to-do list are:

  • Project coin: a project
    implemented to determine what set of language changes should make
    it into JDK 7.

  • Project Lambda: a
    proposal to add first-class functions, function types, and lambda
    expressions to Java. Project Lambda’s goal was to implement a
    prototype suitable for inclusion in JDK 7.

  • Project Jigsaw:
    implementing a low-level module system for modularising the
    JDK.

  • Multicore.

  • Multilanguage.

Thomas Kurian during JavaOne
Keynote.

Good news for GlassFish and NetBeans

Oracle also threw some light on the future of the GlassFish
sever. Oracle has ruled in favour of a coexistence between Weblogic
and GlassFish. This has also been reported by attendees of the
GlassFish community events, which took place in the run-up to the
conference. But, in matters of the Java Enterprise Edition,
Kurian’s statements remained vague. He cited steps that have
already been made in 2009 and 2010, like EJB 3.1 and the web
profile.

What was striking, was that during various presentations
NetBeans and Eclipse were used, which can be interpreted as a
commitment to support both platforms in the future. During the
JavaFX demos, Oracle concentrated on NetBeans. Two more releases of
NetBeans are planned for this year. According to Kurian, this is to
emphasise the importance of NetBeans for Oracle.

Java Mobile & Embedded

Oracle is currently working on a re-invention of the Micro
Edition online, under the title of “Java ME.Next.” They plan to
modernise Java ME completely. Oracle referred to the reach of Java
ME as being enormous, despite the success of Apple and Android.
According to Oracle, Java can be found on 3 billion devices, and
the aim is to offer more innovations to these users. The link
between native apps and mobile web functionalities has a high
priority, although detailed information on the planned steps, or
potential release dates, remain a mystery. Even when JAXenter asked
Kurian during the press conference, he didn’t provide any further
information.

No comment on JCP or Android

Speaking of “no comments;” as expected, neither Thomas Kurian
nor any other Oracle official revealed anything about the ongoing
Android lawsuit. Kurian also stayed silent on the future of the
Java Community Process.

 

Larry Ellison’s Americas Cup Sailing
Trophy

Conclusion

Kurian avoided controversial topics, which was expected – after
all, conferences are about making clients, partners and developers
happy. An explosive debate between 40,000 people would be a PR
worst-case scenario that no Oracle official wants to see. So, no
news on the JCP or the Android lawsuit.

The news on the different Java technologies seem credible, with
concrete announcements and release dates. Sadly, announcements in
the mobile area remained vague, possibly due to the hinted-at
long-winded negotiations with mobile manufacturers and
operators.

Oracle’s commitment to NetBeans and Eclipse seems genuine too,
as does their commitment to programming languages such as Scala,
Groovy and co. Sun always had difficulty accepting languages that
were not developed inside their own labs.

The future of JavaFX seems bright, judging by the impressive
demos and tools, and of course, the clear APIs.

The business-like Thomas Kurian, although brilliant when it came
to technical know-how, trailed off with a cliche. He ended his
keynote with the statement that “the future of Java is not about
one company. It is about the developers.” Let’s hope the developers
will be able to join in the conversation – and Java won’t become
the Oracle Show.

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