The Java Community Feel Downgraded

JavaOne Retrospective

Jessica Thornsby
The-Java-Community-Feel-Downgraded

Oracle’s first JavaOne conference has drawn to a close – but was it a success?

Let’s get it straight from the very beginning: the first JavaOne
under Oracle’s leadership offered few new insights into the future
of Java. Certainly, the future was a hot topic amongst the
conference attendees, but Oracle itself offered only a few official
announcements. So, my following conclusions are based on my own
impressions and observations, and the numerous conversations I was
able to run with Oracle insiders – but not on verifiable facts.

The Java Community Feel Downgraded

Oracle’s decision to hold JavaOne not as a conference in its own
right, but as an extension of Oracle OpenWorld, was strongly
criticised by many participants. With the relocation of JavaOne
from the traditional conference location, the Moscone Center, to a
nearby hotel, there was the sense of a conference being pushed to
one side. Although the organisers reported an impressive 41,000
participants, there was no information on how many of these people
visited JavaOne. Given the size restrictions of the Hilton Union
Square, we can assume that the number of participants was well
below that of previous JavaOnes.

Pragmatic planning

At this year’s JavaOne, Oracle proved that they are working hard
to provide solutions to specific problems in order to win back the
community’s confidence at the technical level. Announcements
regarding Oracle’s plans for GlassFish and NetBeans, definitely
fall into this category. Their decision to accelerate the
development of the next version of Java (JDK 7) (albeit with a
reduced feature set) reflects their pragmatism and determination.
Sun was debating about this release for many years, but was never
able to present a clear roadmap, and ultimately delayed many
necessary innovations from year to year.

Behind closed doors

The way Oracle handles its planning does nothing to calm the
Java community – a community that has become used to being kept
to-up-to-date. Oracle’s mills grind differently. Here, we have a
strongly process-orientated organisation, which likes to plan major
steps in advance and behind closed doors, and then make dramatic
revelations to the public.

And, it seems that Oracle is doing the same with Java. Practical
technology roadmaps: Yes. Strategic Announcements: No. Oracle takes
its time planning quietly in Redwood Shores, and is not moved by
the nervousness of the community.

Between The
Lines

If you try to read between the
lines of the JavaOne announcements, it is still difficult to
distinguish where Oracle stands. On the one hand, there is an
open-mindedness regarding Java projects that are not developed in
Oracle’s own labs and are not driven by the JCP. It seems that
Oracle views languages such as Groovy and Scala as important
players in the Java ecosystem. And Eclipse and OSGi are no longer
viewed as disturbing elements, as was the case with Sun.

What was remarkable though,
was a statement made by Oracle’s chief in charge of product
development, Kurian, during the opening keynote. In regards to Java
EE, he claimed that for Dependency Injection you no longer need
a
“proprietary third-party DI framework”. What
he referred to, inter alia, was Spring. Spring as a proprietary
framework: slip of the tongue, or an indication of Oracle’s
attitude?

As we all expected,
there was no comment regarding the current legal proceedings
against Android at JavaOne. The future of the Java Micro Edition
also remained unclear. Besides the statements that Oracle will
provide future innovation for the three billion Java-powered mobile
phones worldwide, and that Oracle is working with JavaME.Next on a
new generation of mobile Java, there were no further details within
the mobile arena.

Is
o
penness the right thing for
Oracle?

Oracle has won favour
with the community be presenting clear roadmaps, and has succeeded
in showing the community that a new wind is blowing in the areas of
product and release planning. Also, it has become clear that the
Constitution of Java in Redwood Shores is not considered a
Community affair, but an internal company
issue.

We should bear in mind
that although Sun’s openness to community participation, open
source and transparency was popular, it brought little concrete
progress to Java. The long ordeal of JDK 7 is just one example. If
Oracle succeed in managing the Java platform competently, through
tight organisation and performance, it will satisfy many partners
and the pressure on Oracle will lessen.

Maturity Java
community

We must not forget, that the
Java community has developed considerably during the last five to
six years. During the mid-2000s, when Sun and the JCP weren’t able
to give new impe
tus to Java, and only offered
impractical responses to the current challenges, the community
ensured the survival of the Java platform with Spring, Hibernate,
Groovy and many other open source tools. Given the enormous

proliferation of Java and, given the investments we
have made in Java over the years, these activities are not about to
grind to a standstill.

 

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