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JAX’s Review of the Year 2012: Part One

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

With 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 community.

Let’s get to it…


JANUARY

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 server 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?


FEBRUARY

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 hoped.

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.


MARCH

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 plans.

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 FuseSource and Polymita, laying the groundwork for more success in the new year.


APRIL

The cloud infrastructure ‘wars’ kicked off in April as Citrix donated their cloud software to the Apache Software Foundation. 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 appear.

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 Amazon.


MAY

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 question.

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.


JUNE

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 train.

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 Moyle.

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