From fresh starts to Eclipse Juno

JAX’s Review of the Year 2012: Part One

Chris Mayer

We flick back through the calendar to pick out the highlights from the development year.

the year almost out, it’s time for the obligatory JAX Review of
2012. Trawling through the archives of the reams and reams of
content, we’ve managed to pull out some of the biggest talking
points that made it a rollercoaster year for Java, the JVM and the

Let’s get to it…


It was all change at the start of 2012.
OSGi Director of Technology Peter Kriens
stepped aside
 from his role after more than a decade at the helm. His
guidance arguably led the module system framework towards becoming
the de-facto choice for modularity in Java. Modularisation would of
course become a hot topic later in the year.

Developer productivity gurus Jetbrains decided to throw their hat
into the JVM ring with
statically-typed Kotlin
, which compiles to both Java bytecode
and JavaScript. By the end of the year, the team had reached
Milestone 4, with the language showing great promise.

After the slightly acrimonious fallout, continuous integration
Hudson got a fresh start
at Eclipse as the first milestone
arrived. News has been a bit quiet on this one since, with creator
Kohsuke Kawaguchi’s Jenkins fork picking up most of the attention
housed at CloudBees. Can Hudson make a dent?


If January was all about change, February was about not letting go.
Oracle announced their intention to
extend Java 6’s End of Life period until November 2012
suggesting that uptake of Java 7 was not as high as they’d

Oracle then pushed it back again to February 2013, hinting that
Java developers might see fit to move when Java 8 arrives, or they
might skip Java 7 altogether. It wasn’t all bad news for Java in
February though, with
RedMonk analyst Stephen O’Grady
saying that it “remains – in
spite of the fragmented programming language landscape – a viable,
growing language.”

There was big talk about Big Data. Apache Hadoop went 1.0 right at
the end of 2011 and began to saw the commercial vendors jostle
about. At the same time, NoSQL databases were beginning to pique
the interest of traditional enterprises. Business intelligence
experts Jaspersoft decided to keep tabs on the emerging field with

their Big Data Index


One JVM language above others made the biggest march over the year
and that was Scala. Parent company
Typesafe unveiled their second complete stack
in this month,
tying together web framework Play! 2.0 with event-driven middleware
project Akka 2.0.

The supporting cast behind the functional language was a big reason
for its 2012 rise, as any language needs strong support in offshoot
projects to grow. In turn, this likely persuaded investors to plow
in their cash in the coming months.
Some weren’t entirely convinced though
over Scala’s

Speaking of money,
Red Hat became the first open source company to post $1bn revenue
for the financial year
– a phenomenal achievement. Jim
Whitehurst, President and CEO of Red Hat called it a “fitting
conclusion to a remarkably strong year for our business”. Red Hat
made some key middleware acquisitions later on in 2012, notably

, laying the groundwork for more success in the new


The cloud infrastructure ‘wars’ kicked off in April as
Citrix donated their cloud software to the Apache Software
. Entering the incubator right away, the decision
from the usually walled Citrix to offer CloudStack to the biggest
open source foundation going had one key goal – to gain mass
adoption for their solid piece of software. By December, CloudStack
code stripped back of proprietary licenses had begun to

Their main competitor
OpenStack had a pretty strong month too
. Created by Rackspace
and NASA, OpenStack would continue to rise throughout 2012 as its
foundation moved toward a community-governed model. In April,
OpenStack Essex arrived as did industry juggernauts Red Hat and IBM
to the OpenStack Foundation. Red Hat seem quite keen on pushing an
OpenStack solution as quickly as possible, heavily providing code
to the projects within the expansive project. By year’s end, it’s
still anybody’s game – and we shouldn’t count out the role of


We’ve yet to mention the most covered news story of the year, but
that’s with good reason. The Oracle vs Google trial produced a lot
of intrigue, especially surrounding whether an API was
copyrightable or not, but all in all, no one came out of it looking
respectable. After months of accusations and counter-accusations,
Judge Alsup eventually ruled in May that the
Android platform did not infringe any of the 37 Java patents in

Not long after, the copyright case was dismissed in favour of
Google. It turned out to be a complete failure for Oracle, picking
up the legal bill with Google having to pay
zero statutory damages
. Both filed appeals in the
excruciatingly long case, but the only winner was the developer –
Android remains open to all.

Aside from court wranglings, an
exciting new project arrived in vert.x
. The polyglot project,
dubbed as the Java alternative to node.js, can write components in
JavaScript, CoffeeScript, Ruby, Python, Groovy or Java. Community
interest is still high and cements the notion that Java developers
need to be able to mix things up in this day and age.


The Eclipse Foundation’s annual release train pulled into the
platform, containing 72 established and new projects alike. Juno
was the biggest release ever from Eclipse, although it wasn’t
without teething problems. The
new 4.2 platform (which came in as default) caused community debate
over performance
and many were left disappointed over the state
of what was supposed to be the next generation platform for
development. It transpired later that a lack of funds was key to
this, reinforcing the need for the community to give back to
Eclipse before it is too late. At JAXenter,
we highlighted the five standout projects in the Juno release

After a slight delay, Groovy 2.0 was welcomed by the Groovy
community. It was a big leap for the object-oriented language
backed by VMware, incorporating ideas from other languages, while
maintaining its ties to Java. This time round, the biggest feature
was a static type checker, allowing static compiling.
We chatted to the Project Lead Guillaume Laforge
about the
release, decisions made when creating the dynamic language and what
the future holds.

Check back tomorrow for the second part of JAX’s Review of
2012. Photo by Dan

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