What is the Future of Java?

JavaOne Report

Jessica Thornsby

Thomas Kurian gives community an insight into the future of OpenJDK, Java SE, GlassFish and NetBeans.

The opening keynote of JavaOne – delivered by Thomas Kurian – was eagerly anticipated. Unfortunately, it failed to completely satisfy the Java community. During the keynote, Oracle made substantial commitments to central Java projects such as OpenJDK, NetBeans and GlassFish, but they neglected the truly explosive topics.

Anyone who remembers the pomp and pathos of past JavaOnes, must have been astonished at Oracle’s dry welcome of the Java community. Although there were bursts of music, rapid videos and motivational slogans (“9 million Java developers worldwide”, “Java is the No. 1 Programming Platform”, “3 Billion Java driven Mobile Phones” etc) during the keynote, after that, it was back to business.

Java: OpenJDK Lives!

Kurian had a clear message regarding the future of OpenJDK: “Oracle remains committed to OpenJDK as the the best open source Java implementation and we will continue to improve OpenJDK and welcome external contributors.” The commercial license of Java will be released in parallel.

The next version of the Standard Edition (Java SE) will be released after the infamous ‘Plan B,’ as introduced by Mark Reinhold via blog and Twitter. Reinhold had previously asked the community if they would prefer a JDK 7 in two years, or a reduced release in one year. The feedback showed a clear preference for small, frequent releases, which means the reduced JDK 7 will be released in summer 2011. This means that next year’s JDK release will focus on features like support for dynamically typed languages (JRS 292) while features such as project Lambda and JigSaw will have to wait until JDK 8.

Top of Java’s to-do list are:

  • Project coin: a project implemented to determine what set of language changes should make it into JDK 7.

  • Project Lambda: a proposal to add first-class functions, function types, and lambda expressions to Java. Project Lambda’s goal was to implement a prototype suitable for inclusion in JDK 7.

  • Project Jigsaw: implementing a low-level module system for modularising the JDK.

  • Multicore.

  • Multilanguage.

Thomas Kurian during JavaOne Keynote.

Good news for GlassFish and NetBeans

Oracle also threw some light on the future of the GlassFish sever. Oracle has ruled in favour of a coexistence between Weblogic and GlassFish. This has also been reported by attendees of the GlassFish community events, which took place in the run-up to the conference. But, in matters of the Java Enterprise Edition, Kurian’s statements remained vague. He cited steps that have already been made in 2009 and 2010, like EJB 3.1 and the web profile.

What was striking, was that during various presentations NetBeans and Eclipse were used, which can be interpreted as a commitment to support both platforms in the future. During the JavaFX demos, Oracle concentrated on NetBeans. Two more releases of NetBeans are planned for this year. According to Kurian, this is to emphasise the importance of NetBeans for Oracle.

Java Mobile & Embedded

Oracle is currently working on a re-invention of the Micro Edition online, under the title of “Java ME.Next.” They plan to modernise Java ME completely. Oracle referred to the reach of Java ME as being enormous, despite the success of Apple and Android. According to Oracle, Java can be found on 3 billion devices, and the aim is to offer more innovations to these users. The link between native apps and mobile web functionalities has a high priority, although detailed information on the planned steps, or potential release dates, remain a mystery. Even when JAXenter asked Kurian during the press conference, he didn’t provide any further information.

No comment on JCP or Android

Speaking of “no comments;” as expected, neither Thomas Kurian nor any other Oracle official revealed anything about the ongoing Android lawsuit. Kurian also stayed silent on the future of the Java Community Process.


Larry Ellison’s Americas Cup Sailing Trophy


Kurian avoided controversial topics, which was expected – after all, conferences are about making clients, partners and developers happy. An explosive debate between 40,000 people would be a PR worst-case scenario that no Oracle official wants to see. So, no news on the JCP or the Android lawsuit.

The news on the different Java technologies seem credible, with concrete announcements and release dates. Sadly, announcements in the mobile area remained vague, possibly due to the hinted-at long-winded negotiations with mobile manufacturers and operators.

Oracle’s commitment to NetBeans and Eclipse seems genuine too, as does their commitment to programming languages such as Scala, Groovy and co. Sun always had difficulty accepting languages that were not developed inside their own labs.

The future of JavaFX seems bright, judging by the impressive demos and tools, and of course, the clear APIs.

The business-like Thomas Kurian, although brilliant when it came to technical know-how, trailed off with a cliche. He ended his keynote with the statement that “the future of Java is not about one company. It is about the developers.” Let’s hope the developers will be able to join in the conversation – and Java won’t become the Oracle Show.

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