Oracle & Java

Can Java survive without its evangelists?

Sebastian Meyen
Preach image via Shutterstock

The recent rumours of Oracle putting an end to its Java evangelism has the community worried about the necessary vision for Java’s future. But there’s no reason for Java world to fear, says JAX London program chair Sebastian Meyen.

News of Oracle putting an end to its Java evangelist team has created a panic in the Java world. But to fan the flames of a possible Javapocalypse with more hearsay is to fall prey to the hysteria and ignore what little facts we have.

With more secret changes being made without proper public announcement, there’s no doubt that something dubious is afoot at Oracle. None of us feel properly informed about what is happening, given that all we have is a series of social media messages, while Oracle’s poignant silence show what appears to be an arrogance toward the community. But Oracle wouldn’t be Oracle if it batted an eyelid at the sight of a shitstorm such as this.

We are hearing talk that the team of Java evangelists has been disbanded, with three individuals leaving the company. But then there’s Oracle’s official list of all Java evangelists – what’s that about? Either it’s a shamelessly outdated list of individuals, or it’s a statement about something that nobody has thought about so far.

From Java to Cloud

Individuals on the list like Brian Goetz, Dalibor Topic, Henrik Stal and Terrence Barr are in fact not strictly Java evangelists, but engineers, technical product managers and tech marketing people that happen to also play a public role in (re)presenting and discussing Oracle’s technologies. And by all accounts, nothing is changing about that.

With Oracle concentrating its efforts on its Cloud business, the company has apparently been internally debating the reallocation of more resources towards the Cloud. And it seems that’s why no one at Oracle seems to be surprised about the fate of its Java evangelists.

The announcement of Cameron Purdy’s departure (Senior Vice President for Java Development) over a “difference of opinions” would appear to be another nail in the coffin. But it’s not yet clear if this change-up has anything to do with the demise of Java evangelism. Either way, anyone looking at Oracle’s website will find any number of job openings in Java Platform Engineering.

If we stop and think about what evangelists do, we need to ask ourselves how modern a role this is. If an evangelist is the messenger bringing good tidings of new technologies, then we should enquire as to whether Java still needs this role in 2015. The era of open source has shown the importance of communication between core engineering and Java users, instead of the previous age of one-sided announcements. Spreading news about Java updates is now just as important as getting feedback from the programming community for the Java language engineers.

And that’s why I won’t be missing the Java evangelists – especially since most competent individuals are busy with other tasks. We – users, developers and journalists – should remain in an open and constructive dialogue. And that’s where I remain positive.

Sebastian Meyen
Sebastian is Chief Content Officer at S&S Media, the publisher of He has been actively involved with the IT industry for almost two decades. As a journalist he is constantly in touch with thought leaders in software development and architecture. He is editor in chief of the German speaking Java Magazin and program chair of the JAX conferences since 2001. Prior to joining S&S Media, he studied philosophy and anthropology in Frankfurt, Germany.

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