by Janice J. Heiss and Timothy Beneke
JavaOne 2013 – the 18th JavaOne Conference -- kicked off at San Francisco’s Moscone Center with two very thoughtful and illuminating presentations by Peter Utzschneider, Vice President, Java Product Management, and Nandini Ramani, Vice President of Engineering, Java Client and Embedded Platforms, both of Oracle. Together, they presented a vision of Java adroitly adjusting to an industry, and even a world, that is undergoing rapid change as we enter the Internet of Things.
Utzschneider began by celebrating the very fact of JavaOne 2013, which offers more than 400 sessions, with attendees from no fewer than 92 countries and a wealth of educational and other festivities, including a “Codegarten” where developers can improve their coding skills, plus a code challenge using the Raspberry Pi. He gave a brief update on the thriving state of Java, which is showing a 10% increase in Java User Groups, a major new release of Java EE 7, increasing readership of Java Magazine, along with a strong and growing Java community.
He suggested that it is important for developers to remember that Java remains the number one development platform in the world with most of the infrastructure that powers the web running on Java.
As he spoke, an accompanying slide displayed Java’s success:
* 9 Million Java Developers Worldwide
* #1 Choice for Developers
* #1 Development Platform
* 3 Billion Mobile Phones Run Java
* 100 Percent of Blu-ray Disc Players Ship with Java
* 97 Percent of Enterprise Desktops Run Java
* 5 Billion Java Cards in Use
* 7 Billion Java Cards Sold
* 89% of desktops run java
* 125 million TV devices run java
* 5 of top 5 OEMs ship java
The theme of JavaOne 2013, “Make the Future Java” is unchanged from last year’s, for a very good reason, according to Utzschneider. “There is a lot going on in the industry,” he said, “with massive shifts and innovation happening which pose huge challenges and opportunities for Java.” The goal is to make Java better, stronger, more robust and relevant for decades to come.
He presented a slide that illustrated another key point. “The combination of mobility and social have created an incredible amount of new data, of people interacting, sharing and producing things with new services and new applications, all being driven by massive infrastructure, mostly running on Java,” he noted. Some 204 million messages are sent every minute, with 278,000 tweets, 20 million photos viewed and 11,000 professional searches via the Internet.
All of this activity is creating an enormous amount of data in many forms with growing volume and velocity. He noted: “Dealing with data – historical, real-time, future, large, small – is creating a whole new paradigm. We now have Big Data, fast data, all backed up through BI (Business Intelligence) and analytics. The data itself has become the life blood that allows developers to harness and innovate and build new applications.”
Utzschneider referred to the many non-human driven devices that will be coming on the Internet in the next two years – estimates vary between 10 and 50 billion. “When I looked at these numbers,” he observed, “I realized that once you get up into the billions, it doesn’t matter. It’s huge, real, and happening.”
He said that the devices are driven by Moore’s Law hitting the embedded space very hard, as devices become cheaper, more powerful and most important – connected. “This is the about the Internet of Things,” he said. “It will be a major game changer for Java developers and the larger community.”
He pointed out that the mobile devices we use today for applications and to connect with each other will become the ultimate remote controls of the future, which will help us interact with and control the physical world around us. Simultaneously, the shift to cloud-based development is now in full swing.
With this change, he noted, “We will have to rethink security and rethink how services can move from a container-based to a more service-based model. And we want to be able to move our applications from physical infrastructure to the cloud, but also be able to port it to a different cloud if we wish.”
He emphasized that in stewarding the Java platform, Oracle is committed to making the skills of Java developers applicable to the future.
JavaOne 2013’s First Demo
Utzschneider explained that, without knowing it, attendees had been participating in the first demo at this year’s JavaOne. “With partners, Hitachi Consulting and Eurotech, we have built an end-to-end demo with sensors above all the doorway portals which differentiate whether you are a dog or a human, whether you are coming or going, and feeding this data to a Java SE based application running on a gateway. After the computation is complete, it goes to the cloud, which has analytics and BI (Business Intelligence) applications, plus a Java-based application for visualization.”
The point of the demo is to demonstrate how, in a couple of weeks, using off-the-shelf Java componentry, a sophisticated demo could be built, and strung together, to prove the value of Java as an open standard applicable from the smallest devices all the way up to cloud-based development.
Nandini Ramani: Unifying the Java Platform
Nandini Ramani next shared the stage with Utzschneider, and began with an analysis of how Java has thrived on a diverse spectrum of devices and markets, resulting in implementations that have also become more siloed over the years. “Moving forward,” she remarked, “we believe it’s important to unify the platform, not just from an API perspective, but from a language perspective.”
She observed that Java SE 7, CDC, and CLDC, differ more than they share commonalities. From a language perspective, CLDC is still at the Java 1.3 phase, while Java SE is heading towards Java 8 early in 2014. The pace of Java ME has not kept up with Java SE.
“Java SE 8 is a huge step towards platform unification,” Ramani said. “With SE 8, we will release the Compact Profile and will replace CDC, so we will have one less implementation. We are also increasing commonality both from an API and a language perspective. This means that on the API front in ME 8 you will see familiar libraries like NIO, New Collections, and so on. With the language we will have annotations, generics, and even strings in switch.”
Developers will thus be able to use their skill sets across the entire Java spectrum instead of being restricted to being a Java ME or Java SE developer. With Java 8, developers will get code portability, commonality of APIs and common tooling from the smallest device all the way up to Java SE embedded to serverside Java SE.
She pointed to three things that are happening driving this unification. First, Moore’s Law is making devices more capable. Second, Java SE is being shrunk to fit into the embedded space and smaller devices; and third, Java ME is being brought up to be in parity with Java SE.
Java – The Logical Choice for the Internet of Things
Ramani remarked that Oracle is working with embedded partners to make Java a first-class citizen with their chip sets. Because there are so many vendors with different operating systems and device drivers, embedded development can be fragmented and challenging. “Everyone believes that there is a need for an open standard platform for the Internet of Things space that is coming – Java is the logical choice to address this market,” explained Ramani.
Utzschneider noted that some of JavaOne 2013’s partners like Freescale and Qualcomm come from the device side and are eager to make this happen. Freescale will be giving a talk prior to Thursday’s Community Keynote about why Java makes sense for the Internet of Things.
Ramani stated that in August of 2013, Oracle launched the Oracle Java Platform Integrative Program that first gives partners the ability to easily port Java Embedded to platforms that Oracle does not yet support; and second, it gives them the ability to extend the platform with their own libraries based on market verticals and segments, or health care, manufacturing, smart home, or industrial automation. This is part of a larger attempt to embrace and extend the Java ecosystem.
Qualcomm Conference Uplinq Hackathon Winner Andrew Sugaya
Next, a surprise. Someone was invited onstage who, a mere 12 days before, was unknown to Oracle. This was Andrew Sugaya, winner of the Grand Prize at the 2013 Qualcomm Conference Uplinq Hackathon. Sugaya works for APX Labs in the rapid development of augmented reality solutions for various applications. He explained how, at the Hackathon, he was given breakfast and a black box that he did not know how to use. Though he had coded in Java, he had never used Java ME before. He found it very easy to pick up and, using ME, he took the platform and took temperature and brightness data from it, pushed the data out to the network cloud, and into a server which processed the data and was able to change the color and brightness of different light bulbs.
“Now the craziest thing,” said Sugaya, “is that it’s not just the light bulbs – it could be anything. It could be a toaster, a beer mug, even the chairs you are sitting in now. Everything in the future is going to be connected. Some of the work I do at Apex labs is trying to interface with these devices that in the future will be everywhere. We do that through wearable devices.”
That he was able to accomplish this without ever having used Java ME before attests to its appropriateness for embedded devices. Utzschneider commented: “This is a good example of what should happen in the next couple of years. People should be able to deploy their Java skills, pick up a device and write code, and not have to worry about the things that have been problematic in the embedded space. You won’t have to write memory management from scratch before you can even get started. We are trying to put simplicity into the platform.”
Developers were encouraged to check out early access of Java SE 8 and provide feedback. “Tell us what doesn’t work,” said Ramani. Oracle is also seeking feedback on Java ME 8 and the Raspberry Pi.
Java EE 7: Making it Easy to Develop Leading-Edge Enterprise and Web Applications
Sunday’s strategy keynote continued as Cameron Purdy, Vice President, Cloud Application Foundation, at Oracle, joined Peter Utzschneider onstage and talked about the release of Java EE 7 in the summer of 2013. Purdy explained that Java EE 7 had three primary areas of focus. First, it offered HTML5 support with such things as WebsSockets, Server-Sent events, JSON and RESTful support, all of which help developers build modern web-based application. Second, the enterprise aspect of Java EE always gets strong attention, so the adding of batch capabilities was important. Third, developer productivity was a key so Java EE 7 requires less boilerplate code through features like CDI (Context and Dependency Injection) and more annotated POJOs.
Purdy pointed out that when Java EE 7 was announced in 2011, the major theme was cloud development. When it was released, the greatest focus was on support for HTML5. “There is a ton of work related to the cloud in Java EE 7,” he explained. “There is support for things like new security roles in the cloud and being able to automatically wire up a database and default resources, kind of like CDI at the application level, being able to pump a schema into that database or being able to easily consume RESTful services from one application to another. And lastly, with JavaServer Faces we can actually skin applications. If we have a multi-tenanted application we can skin it for each tenant.”
Looking ahead, Purdy said that the continual focus is on making it easy for developers to develop leading-edge enterprise and web applications. “We want to support the latest standards and keep these technologies relevant. We are working on JCache, an application that is coming to fruition. We are improving JSON binding and other technologies. The major focus is making it a vibrant technology that is relevant to what the industry is doing.”
Purdy remarked that EE 7 has gotten major support from the community and partners. “When EE 7 was launched the number of downloads and dial-ins and people watching web casts exceeded all of our expectations,” said Purdy. “It’s had a great reception.”
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Stay tuned for more on this 3-hour Sunday keynote, an information-packed combined strategy and technical keynote.