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Java EE without Oracle?

“From my perspective, Oracle could withdraw from Java EE completely”

Hartmut Schlosser
Java EE
Adam Bien

In the past few weeks, several members of the Java EE community voiced their concerns about Oracle’s decreasing commitment to finishing Java EE 8. Adam Bien, Java Champion & speaker at the Java Enterprise Summit, is one of them. We talked to him about the future of Java EE.

Java EE without Oracle?

The “Java EE Guardians” is a recently formed group of community representatives which openly opposes the negligence towards Java EE. Some of the group’s members are renowned experts like James Gosling, Cameron McKenzie, Peter Pilgrim, Johan Vos and Reza Rahman (one of the driving forces behind the Guardians).

Their mission statement reads as follows:

We are a group of people interested in moving Java EE forward. We are very concerned about Oracle’s current lack of commitment to Java EE and we are doing everything we can to preserve the interests of the Java EE community. Our purpose is advocacy, raising awareness, finding solutions, collaboration and mutual support. We believe that together – including Oracle – we can prove that this is the dawn of a new era for an ever brighter future for Java, Java EE and server-side computing.

In his blog post “Oracle Moves In Strange Ways“, Java champion Adam Bien wondered why Oracle seems to be withdrawing from Java EE. Lots of customers had already started to worry when Oracle decided to discontinue commercial support of the Java EE reference implementation Glassfish. Now, according to Bien, customers of Oracle’s WebLogic-Servers are getting nervous:

The Oracle’s silent, internal, re-focussing on other projects makes WebLogic clients nervous again. The larger the project, the more important becomes Java EE standard for portability. Usually no one switches between the servers during development, but server upgrades are usual. Maintaining the portability between server releases is critical. Proprietary features can become deprecated at every server release (see e.g. file services), but suddenly nothing can disappear from Java EE.

We talked to Adam Bien about the future of Java EE, which might be eventually powered by the community instead of Oracle.

JAXenter: Hi Adam! Let’s talk about the current state of Java EE. In your interview at JAX, you said that Java EE technology has become easier than JavaScript. Has the “former heavyweight Java EE” become more lightweight ?

Adam Bien: When you start a modern HTML5/JavaScript project, you spend several hours to a few days setting things up. In comparison, initial setup of Java EE projects does not take much time. It’s finished in a few minutes! I plan to spend the first ten minutes of my workshop at the Java Enterprise Summit on the full setup process.

JAXenter: “Java EE Guardians” is a recently formed group of people with a shared interest in the further development of Java EE. One of their statements is: „We are very concerned about Oracle’s current lack of commitment to Java EE.“ Do you share their concerns about the future of Java EE?

Adam Bien: Only partially. It is indeed obvious that most EGs at Oracle are working on different tasks. From my perspective, Oracle could even withdraw from Java EE completely. In that case, the community would fill in and take over JCP-tasks.

From my perspective, Oracle could withdraw completely.

JAXenter: Since Oracle is not fully committed to the project – what role can the community play in the development of Java EE?

Adam Bien: The community already took over a lot of things. CDI is successfully maintained by RedHat, the reference implementation of Security Spec is provided by the community. Hazelcast is already working on the Caching API.

JAXenter: You just wrote a blog post about the declining commitment of Oracle to Java EE 8. Is the community able to compensate for that? You mentioned WebLogic customers were having some trouble.

Adam Bien: This kind of compensation would not have been impossible a while ago. However, Java EE 7 is mature and popular today. Even Java EE 8 will not be so much different. I am pretty sure that further development of Java EE 9 would be possible with quite limited resources. Instead of complex specifications, you could use slim documents and meaningful tests. It is possible to finish specifications within four months, as Rod Johnson demonstrated back in 2009.

There is a surprisingly high number of Java EE startups, entrepreneurs and enthusiasts ready to invest time and money into such a project. The actual size of the Java EE community keeps on surprising me.

Furthermore, WebLogic customers don’t like to be dependent on WebLogic. Proprietary solutions can change at any time; the same is true for licensing terms. Java EE offers a bit of freedom. You could still migrate to another server, given the worst case scenario.

Java EE offers a bit of freedom.

JAXenter: Oracle should use Java EE as a killer marketing tool instead of a cost centre; that is the advice you offered on your blog. Could you elaborate on that a bit further?

Adam Bien: Posing as a standard, Java EE by definition cannot cover all features for all vendors, while at the same time encompassing enough features to realize “boring” enterprise applications.

Therefore, WebLogic would sell way better in combination with Java EE. As a result, the application logic would be independent from the server; you could use advanced monitoring- and administration-tools in production.

WebLogic would sell better in combination with Java EE.

This is especially true for cloud applications, with their even higher dependencies.

GlassFish dominated my Java EE projects in no time: the combination of reference implementation with optional, commercial support appealed to many customers.

JAXenter: Your workshop at the Java Enterprise Summit is called “Java EE – A Guide to the real life”. So it will encompass best practices from the real world, won’t it? Could you give a little sneak peek?

Adam Bien: I’m planning on developing an application with as much Java EE 7 technology as possible and deploy it to the application server first, then with Docker. My session will focus on the real world – on the highest possible productivity and easy maintenance.

As usual, questions from the audience will be of highest priority and answered immediately. Participants will therefore have significant influence on the agenda.

JAXenter: Is there anything you would (particularly) like to see in Java EE 9?

Adam Bien: I’m pretty satisfied with Java EE 6 already. In my opinion, we should put an emphasis on non-functional requirements like deployment, monitoring and management.

JAXenter: Thank you for this interview.

Consultant and author Adam Bien is an Expert Group member for the Java EE 6 and 7, EJB 3.X, JAX-RS, and JPA 2.X JSRs. He has worked with Java technology since JDK 1.0 and with Servlets/EJB 1.0 and is now an architect and developer for Java SE and Java EE projects. He has edited several books about JavaFX, J2EE, and Java EE, and he is the author of Real World Java EE Patterns – Rethinking Best Practices and Real World Java EE Night Hacks – Dissecting the Business Tier. Adam is also a Java Champion, Top Java Ambassador 2012, and JavaOne 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 Rock Star. Adam occasionally organizes Java EE workshops at Munich’s airport (http://airhacks.com).
Author
Hartmut Schlosser
Hartmut Schlosser is an editor for JAXenter and a specialist in Java Enterprise-Technologies, Eclipse & ALM, Android and Business Technology. Before working at S&S Media he studied Computer Science, Music, Anthropology and French Philology.

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