Late for a very important date

Project Jigsaw deferred until Java 9 by Expert Group

Java’s long-awaited module system, Project Jigsaw has finally been bumped from the Java 8 schedule, and will arrive in 2015 at the earliest.

Chief Architect of the Java Platform Group at Oracle, Mark Reinhold made the proposal back in July to push back the project slated for Java 8, and it seems the Java SE 8 Expert Group agrees with the call.

Writing on his personal blog, Reinhold said he was still confident of making progress “toward the convergence of the higher-end Java ME Platforms with Java SE” within Java 8.

He then went on to outline the course of action for modularisation, noting important changes for those watching on to consider:

I previously suggested that we consider defining a small number of Profiles which would allow compact configurations of the SE Platform to be built and deployed. JEP 161 lays out a specific initial proposal for such Profiles.

There is also much useful work to be done in Java 8 toward the fully-modular platform in Java 9. Alan Bateman has submitted JEP 162, which proposes some changes in Java 8 to smooth the eventual transition to modules, to provide new tools to help developers prepare for modularity, and to deprecate and then, in Java 9, actually remove certain API elements that are a significant impediment to modularization.

Out of all upcoming features, Java needs Project Jigsaw arguably the most, so it can flourish in this multicore age. It is encouraging to see Reinhold disclose the strategy moving forward but perhaps it’s not enough for some.

IBM’s Steve Poole added in the Expert Group discussion that they would like to see “visible progress during Java 8 timescales over defining the metadata format and starting to define module boundaries” and that there needs to be more clarity Modularity is a monumental shift for Java and developers need as much guidance as possible to deal with the disruption.

With two months to reflect since the proposal surfaced, the deferral was undoubtedly the right call to make given the state of the project.

The scale of Project Jigsaw cannot be underestimated and it needs to be given the utmost care and attention before it can safely make it into a Java version. But with the delay, will Java developers wait patiently, or simply start using OSGi?

Chris Mayer

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