From Jigsaw delays to the Eclipsocalypse

JAX’s Review of the Year 2012: Part Two

Elliot Bentley

The second half of the year was as eventful as the first: here’s the most important and interesting events from July through to December.

Following on from
yesterday’s retrospective from to halfway through 2012, here’s the
most important and interesting events from July through to


The second half of the year was as eventful as the first, beginning
with the highly controversial proposal by chief architect of the
Java platform Mark Reinhold to
defer Project Jigsaw to Java 9
. “Significant technical
challenges remain[ed]” in implementing modularity, said Reinhold,
and there simply was not enough time to get the job done properly.
The developer community was split down the middle, some arguing it
was the right decision, while others proposing that OSGi be
implemented instead.

Elsewhere, Springsource founder
Rod Johnson left the company
after ten years at the helm. “I’m
ready for some different challenges,” wrote Johnson – but it would
be a few months until we found out exactly what those challenges
consisted of.

At JAXconf in San Francisco, the
JAX Innovation awards
saw Restructure 101, Jetbrains, Adam Bien
and Charlie Nutter pick up coveted awards for innovation and
overall contributions to Java.


Java’s reputation took a bit of a knock in August as the platform’s
browser plugin was alleged to have dangerous security
vulnerabilities. Even worse, they hadn’t been patched despite being
reported to Oracle months earlier. And if that wasn’t bad enough,
when Oracle issued an emergency patch, the security researchers
said that it didn’t even solve the problem. In
an op-ed
, we said: “The importance of Java in the browser may
be diminishing rapidly, but it’s still part of the brand. If end
users feel they can’t place their trust in Java, how long until
this uncertainty spreads to the enterprise world?”

Android, too, began to feel the heat, facing general disgruntlement
by developers over the operating system’s
apparent fragmentation
. Figures from Google revealed that 60.6%
of devices were still running the 20-month-old ‘Gingerbread’
update, and five months down the line the picture
doesn’t look any prettier
. In comparison, the recent iOS 6 was
installed on 25% of all compatible devices
within 48 hours
– even despite the whole maps debacle.

In more positive news, a new real-time data-crunching tool, Apache
Drill, was
donated to the Apache Software Foundation
. Inspired by Google’s
Dremel, Drill is a distributed system that scales across 10,000
servers and processes petabytes of data from trillions of rows in
seconds. Well, apparently, anyway. We’ll find out for sure when it
leaves Apache’s incubator.


After the lull of the summer, it was good to get the community’s
blood circulating at JavaOne 2012, which was considered by many to
be the best in recent memory. News
included the announcement of Java ME Embedded 3.2, further insight
into Nashorn and GPU optimisation project ‘Sumatra’ and the

open-sourcing of JavaFX
. While some were underwhelmed by the
lack of any truly game-changing news, the strong focus on
celebrating the Java community saw most attendees going home
satisfied. To top it all off, James Gosling himself made a
surprise appearance at the community keynote
to discuss his new
career in building marine robots.

In cloud computing, OpenStack crossed a significant milestone as
the project was
officially passed from Rackspace to an independent foundation
reflecting not just the maturity of the open-source cloud software,
but also the fact that it now belongs to a wider set of
contributors, including Red Hat, IBM, HP and VMware.

Google’s engineers gave us a glance of what the future may hold for
the trusty relational database, publishing a paper about a
next-generation system called Spanner
. Using GPS receivers and
atomic clocks, Spanner ensures that databases’ timestamps are
exact, allowing them to scale globally. With current open source
darling Hadoop based on a previous paper, it’ll be exciting to see
whether the community will be able to adapt the ideas in the
Spanner paper so they can be shared by all.


October began with bang, as Rod Johnson finally revealed his
post-VMware plans with a
move to Typesafe
, the company behind Scala, Akka and Play. With
Scala considered by some to be “the next Spring”, Johnson’s
appointment to the board of directors is an interesting development
that will likely lead to further announcements next year.

However, even that news couldn’t overshadow JAXenter’s sister
conference, JAX London, now on its fifth year and bigger and better
than ever before. Keynote speakers included
Doug Cutting
Patrick Debois
and the
organisers of the LJC
, while popular sessions included Tim
Berglund’s NoSQL Smackdown and Arun Gupta’s talk on WebSockets.
Stealing the show, though, was
Brian Goetz’s keynote on Lambdas
in Java 8, which was
accompanied by into a second technical session and a sell-out

The month also saw the 1.0 release of both asynchronous framework
Atmosphere and web-centric IDE Eclipse Orion. Atmosphere “works
everywhere and with every framework”, wrote creator Jeanfrancois
Arcand, and just as well considering its four-year development
period. Still, its capabilities and polyglot approach left us so
impressed that we put it on the cover of the October edition of
JAX Magazine

Eclipse Orion
, meanwhile, represented a new frontier for the
IDE, focusing exclusively on writing web applications within a web
application (even Orion itself is written in Orion). While it took
over a year for the team to bring it to a 1.0 standard, we’ll
likely see a lot more numbers in the future: they’ve now switched
to a browser-style rapid release cycle with a dot release every
four months.


JSR 107, the temporary caching API, finally reached early draft
review – over a decade after it was started. Spec lead Greg Luck

recounted the epic tale
in one of JAXenter’s most popular
articles of the year. Despite being repeatedly abandoned and bogged
down by JCP beaurocracy, the spec is now close to being included in
Java EE 7.

Speaking of EE 7: having been announced at JavaOne 2011 and teased
at JavaOne 2012, it was a relief to finally see Project Nashorn –
new JVM JavaScript engine
replacing Rhino – open sourced. With
100% compliance with ECMA test 262 already in the bag, all that’s
left is tuning the engine’s performance, though the real excitement
is due to the fact that it’ll allow node.js scripts to be run on
the JVM.

Outside of the Java space, Amazon made waves at its
first ever AWS re: Invent conference
, with VP Andy Jassy
revealing some mind-boggling numbers such as the 1.3 trillion
objects stored on S3 by the end of Q3 2012. By far the biggest
surprise was the announcement of Redshift, a new data warehousing
service. It particularly shocked new startup BitYota, who were also
launching their AWS-hosted own data warehousing service at re:


December was, rather unintentionally, a month of NoSQL madness on
JAXenter, as we visited the offices of both
MongoDB creators 10gen
and Riak creators Basho (the latter
published in JAX
Magazine’s December issue

Then in the news, two NoSQL products were upgraded to version 2.0:

Couchbase Server
Oracle NoSQL Database
. Whilst Oracle’s ambiguously-titled spin
on Berkeley DB saw mostly closer integration with the company’s
other products, Couchbase took version 2.0 as an opportunity for
reinvention, adding a document data model to their standard
key-value system.

OpenStack’s excellent year was rounded off with the news that
memory giants – and owners of VMware –
EMC had joined the OpenStack Foundation
as Corporate Sponsors.
In a great blog post, Marketing CTO Chuck Hollis explained that
they see clear parallels with the rise of Linux and want to make
sure they don’t miss out (even if it means snubbing VMware).

Finally, the Eclipsocalypse
took place on December 21st as the Eclipse Foundation made its
outdated CVS repositories read-only in an attempt to switch to Git.
If you’re reading this, it means we survived. Phew!

Photo by Dan

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