JAX London 2014: A retrospective
From the sublime to the ridiculous

JAXenter’s turkeys of the year (so far)

JAXentereditorialteam
turkey

All this thankfulness getting a bit sickening? Our compendium of the 2013’s biggest Java howlers should be the perfect antidote!

The Java platform and the rich ecosystem that has grown up around it is a vibrant realm of creativity, community dynamism, and experimentation. But hand in hand with all that, you’re going to get a few chaos monkeys too. There have been some testing times for Java in the past year – as well as some moments of arch-ridiculousness from some of the corporate bodies around it. Get ready to cringe as we relive some of the biggest Java turkeys of 2013.

That Java EE 7 promo video

“Hey everyone, brainstorming time. Java EE 7 is coming out soon. What’s the best way to communicate its productivity-boosting features and HTML5 support to the development community? I’m thinking a cliche-ridden parody action film trailer. We can have a guy running around looking like a cut-rate Jason Bourne. And then he can save a bunch of bored-looking EE developers from… a CCTV camera or something. Yeah, that would be cool. Oh, and let’s have them coding Java on iPads, because everyone knows that they’re the future of computing. Java runs on iPads, right?”

Boats at OpenWorld

This year’s Oracle OpenWorld, now a parent event to JavaOne, will be forever remembered for Larry Ellison’s decision to abandon to his own keynote in favor of racing boats. Perhaps to Ellison, for whom this year’s OpenWorld was his sixteenth, being present to win the prestigious America’s Cup was far more exciting. The OpenWorld attendees who had paid thousands of dollars for their tickets, however, were less than impressed when they realised he was a no-show – storming out of the Larry-less keynote.

Applet security woes

By far the biggest turkey of the year was the continued insecurity of Java applets. Despite being a legacy feature of the platform, Oracle was forced to shift resources to patching Java for desktop – contributing in part to Java 8’s delays.

Many have called for Java’s browser plugin to be abandoned altogether, but as demonstrated by the turkey below, this is far from a realistic option. The only bright side to this whole debacle is that Oracle appear to be taking the issue seriously at last, patching 51 vulnerabilities in the last update.

Firefox blocks Java

With Java continuing to be an achilles’ heel for browser security, uber-advanced Mozillans must have thought blocking Java by default to make perfect sense. You can do everything with HTML5 and JavaScript now, right? So why expose yourself to the security risks of running the plugin?

Unfortunately, there were two things the Firefox devs failed to count on: the continued prevalence of Java applets, and users’ inability to understand the frankly opaque UI for re-enabling Java. Disgruntled users began to fill the related bug report with angry comments.

“It affects all citizens of Denmark, as the national login is blocked,” noted one. It didn’t take long for the block to be reversed – for the time being.

The Ask Toolbar petition

This year, the community decided they’d finally had enough of the obnoxious Ask Toolbar packaged with Java. This anger and energy was harnessed by Java dev Saeid Nourian and chanelled into… a Change.org petition. Sadly, despite 17,744 signatures (including Joshua Bloch), Oracle failed to remove the toolbar – only conceding an option to leave the default search provider unchanged.

Android’s lockdown

With Android now powering 80% of the world’s handsets, it’s difficult to describe the mobile OS as anything but a success – and a big part of that is its open source nature. There are some worrying signs this year, though, that Google are attempting to lock Android down. Much of Android 4.4’s core apps (homescreen, calendar, hangouts, music, gallery, even the camera) are proprietary Google versions, with their OSS equivalents presumably left to rot. Plus, the leader of the Android Open Source Project, Jean-Baptiste Quéru, quit in August, publicly ranting about “sabotage” of his work. Not a good sign.

While we’re at it – if anything makes clear Android’s increasing commercialism, it’s surely the decision to call Android 4.4 ‘KitKat’ - with tie-in chocolates and all. What’s next, Android McFlurry?

Qualcomm’s CES keynote

The award for most embarassing / batshit crazy keynote of the year must surely go to Qualcomm’s performance at CES. Taking over from Microsoft’s regular slot, the hardware manufacturer managed to squeeze in appearances from Steve Ballmer, Maroon 5, Guillermo Del Toro, an actor from this year’s Star Trek sequel, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Sesame Street’s Big Bird. What we failed to learn from this glorious clusterfuck is, um, anything about Qualcomm’s products.

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