A mixed reaction from the Java ecosystem

Project Jigsaw delayed until Java 9 – The Reaction

Chris Mayer
jigsaw

Yesterday’s announcement that the module system (Project Jigsaw) would not make it into Java 8 has left the wider Java community headlong into debate. What do you think about the decision?

Mark Reinhold’s announcement
yesterday that Project Jigsaw, the eagerly-anticipated standard
module system, would now be delayed until Java SE 9 in 2015. The
proposal was met generally with ire, although some did come out in
support of the decision.

To recap, Reinhold, the Chief Architect of the Java Platfom
Group at Oracle, gave the following reason for the deferral of
Project Jigsaw:

Steady progress is being made, but some significant
technical challenges remain. There is, more importantly, not enough
time left for the broad evaluation, review, and feedback which such
a profound change to the Platform demands.

I therefore propose to defer Project Jigsaw to the next release,
Java 9. In order to increase the predictability of all future
Java SE releases, I further propose to aim explicitly for a regular
two-year release cycle going forward.

Reinhold goes on further to explain why he opted to keep the
two-year release cycle, in expense of arguably the biggest feature
targetted for Java SE 8. It’s a fine balance, keeping the
enterprises happy with stability (with as short a release cycle as
they can possibly accept) and the wider community hooked with
innovation.

The general consensus from the Java community however, has been
one of disappointment, and it’s fair to say some are quite angry at
the further delay for a much-needed modularisation introduction to
the language. Just by glancing at the comments on Reinhold’s blog
reveals how vehemently opposed some are, although it’s about 50/50
for the decision. For example, Markus Karg wrote the following:

In fact it is a bit ridiculous that Jigsaw is stripped
from JDK 8 as it was already stripped from JDK 7. What will be
next? Moving it to 10 after 9, 11 after 10? Just give up the idea
and use Maven. It’s here already and serves well. Also the time
frames are rather fantastic. A two year release seen as a big
improvement? Maybe when thinking in astronomic dimensions. Why not
following the release often approach, having one release each
Summer?

The ‘just use Maven’ brigade are certainly there (with
equal discontent shown towards them too), whilst many advocate the
use of OSGi in the long-run. Although Oracle seem resistant to
that. We understand the decision to let the train leave the
platform, but what is the point if the train has no cargo, as Jim
DeVos commented.

This puts a lot of pressure on Lambdas and the Date/Time
API as part of the Java SE 8 release, but is it really enticing to
enterprises to pick up Java SE 8 when it now looks devoid of a
major component as promised? Are they enough to suggest Java is
heading the right way, continually innovating? 
Whilst
it should now ship on time, the minor-major cycle has certainly
been disrupted.

Interestingly, Groovy Project Lead Guillaume LaForge gave
his two cents, explaining how Groovy went about the modularity
problem:

We didn’t go too far with modularity in Groovy 2… because we
didn’t want to duplicate what was supposed to be coming in Java
8. 

But now, it means it won’t be in the hands of developers before
2 years, and in production before 3 years :-(

It means that Jigsaw, if it ever ships, will have been 5+ years
in the making. That sounds a lot, even for such a big feature and
task.

An excellent point made – whilst Project Jigsaw is clearly a
huge undertaking, that amount of time doesn’t really add. Will
Project Jigsaw ever see the light of day? The pace we’re going at
the moment seems to suggest that we may not. 

So where does this leave Java now – a bloated mess of a
language? Will it be left in the dust of other JVM languages that
display some semblance of modularity already, like Scala and
Groovy.

There was no easy decision to be made here, with people bound to
be upset by it, but we want to know your views on this – was it
right to defer Jigsaw? Comment and vote below…

  • It was the right decision if
    it wasn’t ready for Java 8
  • No Jigsaw is annoying, but
    time should be taken on it
  • Other options should have
    been considered instead of Jigsaw being missing
  • Jigsaw should have been
    pursued – some module system is better than none
  • Java 8 is no longer a big
    release – Java needs a module system badly
Created on Jul 18, 2012

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