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Not only is Java the world's number one programming language, but it also provides the backbone to a rich and complex ecosystem of tools and projects. With such a diverse community relying on Java, a major update is always going to be a tricky business - stability and backwards compatibility are big issues, and there's no shortage of contrasting ideas about what should be included in a new release of Java. Sun once estimated that it takes around 18 months to evaluate and approve proposals for changes to Java (and that's before you factor in the time it takes to build, test and release the change.) There's no such thing as a quick Java release, but Java 7 has taken longer than most: in 2007, the Java in Production blog gave 2009 as an approximate launch date. This delay is in no small part due to the acquisition of Sun by Oracle. The original Java 7 roadmap was masterminded by Sun Microsystems, before the legal wranglings (largely centred around MySQL) turned the acquisition of Sun by Oracle into a near-twelve-month battle. It's hardly surprising Java 7 has been a long time coming. Things finally came to a head with the proposal of Plan B. This put forward the idea of releasing JDK 7 in 2011, minus Lambda, Jigsaw, and part of Coin, as oppose to waiting until 2012 and delivering JDK7 with all of the initially planned features. Ultimately, the community and Oracle opted for a quicker update, with less features, which means we'll have to wait until 2012 and Java 8 to get our hands on lambda expressions, literal expressions for immutable lists, sets, and maps, and other deferred features. Although the open debate regarding Java 7 language features is a prime example of an open community in action, the Plan A vs. Plan B debate (and the eventual outcome) highlighted the average Java users' frustration at the language's pace of change. It's been a long wait, but Java 7 is almost here! NetBeans 7 is already available with support for the Java SE Java Development Kit 7, and the latest 10.5 release of IntelliJ IDEA offers full Java 7 support. With Oracle recently announcing that the Java Development Kit 7 will be generally available on July 28, 2011, and work already underway for Java EE 7 and Java SE 8, this is an exciting time for Java! Not to mention JCP.next JSR 1 and JCP.next JSR 2, which Oracle have already submitted to “update and revitalise” the JCP: often criticised as one of the major bottlenecks when it comes to moving Java forward. In this issue, we scrutinise the new features of Java 7, ask how relevant they will be to your typical Java developer, and look at Java 7 support in IntelliJ IDEA. Has the long wait been worth it? Read on to find out!