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Roundup: Java news from JavaOne

Elliot Bentley

A whole host of Java news has come out of Oracle’s official Java conference, including juicy details of future projects Nashorn, Sumatra and Avatar.

Being Oracle’s own conference, JavaOne – taking place in San Francisco this week, in case you weren’t already aware – is of course a popular forum for official news and announcements. While few mind-blowing revelations have come out thus far, we’ve learnt quite a bit more about several exciting future projects such as Nashorn, Sumatra and Avatar.

The best surprise of the conference – albeit one announced last week as a teaser – was Java ME Embedded 3.2, which will be optimised for lightweight machine-to-machine devices, and Java Embedded Suite, for heavier devices. With the hype surrounding Raspberry Pi, it’s exciting to see Java making inroads into new areas. We’re looking forward to finding out more at Java Embedded @ JavaOne later today.

Much of the keynote was spent convincing attendees that Java EE 7 and SE 8 will be worth the wait, despite the delay of modularity (aka Project Jigsaw) and cloud features to subsequent versions.

One interesting bit of SE 8 news was further insight into Nashorn, a new JavaScript engine for the JVM, replacing the Mozilla-developed Rhino. While its inclusion into SE 8 has been known for a while, Oracle announced that the engine will be contributed to the OpenJDK with support from IBM, Red Hat and OpenJDK.

A particularly hyped aspect of Nashorn is the ability to run node.js, the trendy framework for developing server-side applications using JavaScript. Using Node.jar on Nashorn, unmodified node.js scripts can apparently be run on the JVM – though solid info is still thin on the ground. Hopefully the video of yesterday’s session will be online soon to shed some more light.

Looking further ahead into the future, recently-approved GPU optimisation project ‘Sumatra’ will be aided by processor manufacturer AMD, it was announced on Sunday. Sumatra, which will allow Java to utilise the power of GPUs for processing of general data (not just graphics), is likely to arrive with SE 9.

Project Avatar, also announced last year (albeit with very few specifics), appears to have  developed into an end-to-end framework for producing HTML5 apps, particularly aimed at mobile platforms lacking embedded Java support. However, it will be competing against Oracle’s own JSF, as well as countless other third-party front-end tools and frameworks, many of which are open source and have large established communities.

As we reported on Monday, JavaFX is to become fully open source by the end of the year, and will soon support both Linux and ARM devices. Reaction has been cautiously optimistic that, for the first time, JavaFX may actually be showing some promise.

With two more days left, there’s still time for a ‘megaton’ to drop. In the meantime, you might want to catch the hour-and-a-half-long video of the technical keynote.

Photo by Tristan Ferne.

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