Open Source: Cutting the Java SE apron strings
By dannycoward on Aug 14, 2006
Like any parent watching a child leave home for college, Sun appears to have had mixed feelings about the imminent (early 2007, to be precise) departure of its Java SE JDK from its closed source home. Conceived in vitro, from baby steps in a new playground, through child prodigy, with firm friendships, and being no more trouble than some bullying at school, Sun's prodigal child is at last standing in the doorway ready to leave home. Just as the opinions of the Java Community within Sun have been mixed, so have those in the wider Java Community, although for many developers just trying to get their applications written, they don't care how Java is made so long as it works.
Of course some of the most recent steps in Java SE's ten year progress into into the Wide Open World (with an eye to its bigger sibling Java EE) have done much to soften the blow to those who would keep it home longer. Much of the anxiety about open sourcing Java SE has been expressed has been in terms of the risk of loss of compatibility. Which, for a technology with a complex network of commercial and non-commercial entities depending on it, that are able to interact as only effectively as the level of their mutual agreement of what it is, would be the worst outcome. Which argues for perfecting this Matrix of agreements. Yet keeping the screws too tight around the system could cause a slowing of innovation, and the vital ability of Java to flex and morph quickly enough in its ecosystem to remain relevant.
The film buffs amongst you doubtless know that any human/machine system needs some measure of chaos to remain viable, and that an overprotective mother can lead to a very unwelcoming motel.
Thankfully, Jonathan and Rich simplified our dilemma at JavaOne this year by announcing that yes we're doing it (at last). As one of the many people at Sun working on the various and several aspects of open sourcing Java SE, I'm telling you we're busy packing the trunk and working through our To Do list, which we're pinning to the front door for all the neighbors to see, to make sure the strapping adult we have all helped in some way to grow gets the best start possible.
For myself, I can't wait to see if completing this step of transparency of development process will produce something unexpected and delightful around or within the Java SE JDK. Just as making it easy to post video clips has created unexpected new stars in our consciousness.
If you want to watch us check off the items on our list over the next few months in the countdown to our release of a full buildable version early in 2007 of the JDK under an open source licence (nearly all, think swiss cheese), stick around here. Or better still bookmark the new Java SE Open Source site.
Oh, and can you guess which pieces we're going to open up before Christmas ? (hint: Hotspot and javac)