Java in Flux: Utopia or Deuteranopia?

What a difference a year makes, indeed. Steve Harris, Senior VP, App Server Dev, Oracle and Adam Messinger, VP, Fusion Middleware Group, Oracle presented an informative keynote at the TheServerSide Java Symposium today. With a title "Java in Flux: Utopia or Deuteranopia?" you know things are going to be interesting (see Aeon Flux if you don't get the title reference).

What a Year
They started with a little background, explaining that the reactions to Oracle's acquisition of Sun (and therefore Java) one year ago varied greatly, from "Freak Out!" to "Don't Panic." From the Oracle perspective, being the steward of and key contributor to Java requires a lot of sausage making.  They admitted to Oracle's fair share of Homer Simpson-esque "D'oh" moments in the past year, which was complicated by Oracle's communication style.   "Oracle has a tradition has a saying a few things and sticking by then, in contrast to Sun who was much more open," Adam explained. "We laid out the Java roadmap and are executing on it, and we hope that speaks to our commitment."

Java SE
Adam talked about having a long term perspective on the Java language (20+ years), letting ideas mature in more experimental languages, then bringing them into Java. Current priorities include: JVM convergence (getting the best features of JRockit into Hotspot); support of parallel/multi-core programming, and of course, all the improvements in JDK7. The JDK7 Developer Preview is underway (please download now and report bugs!). The Oracle development team is also working on Lambda and modularity (Jigsaw) for SE 8. Less certain, but also under discussion are improvements for Java SE 9. Adam is thinking of it as a "back to basics" release. He mentioned reworking JNI, improving data integration and improved device support.

Java EE
To provide context about Java EE, Steve said Java EE was great at getting businesses on the internet. The success of Java EE resulted in an incredible expansion of the middleware marketplace for developers and vendors.  But with success, came more. Java EE kept piling on capabilities, but that created excess baggage.  Doing simple things was no longer so simple. That's where Java community is so valuable: "When Java EE was too complex and heavyweight, many people were happy to tell us what we were doing wrong and popularize solutions," Steve explained. Because of that feedback, the Java EE teams focused on making things simple again: POJOs and annotations, and leveraging changes in Java SE.  Steve said that "innovation doesn't happen in expert groups, it happens on the ground where developers are solving problems," and platform stewards need to pay attention and take advantage of changes that are taking place.

Enter the Cloud
 "Developers are restless, they want cloud functionality from their own IT dept" Steve explained. With the cloud, the scope of problem has expanded to include the data center itself, with multiple tenants. To move forward, existing APIs in Java EE need to be updated to be tenant-aware, service-enabled, and EE needs to support various styles of deployment. The goal is to get all that done in Java EE 8.

Adam questioned Steve about timing and schedule. "Yes, the schedule is aggressive, but it'll work" Steve said. Then Adam asked about modularization. If Java SE 8 comes out at the end of 2012, when can Java EE deliver modularization? Steve suggested that key stakeholders can come with up some pre-SE 8 agreement on how to expose the metadata about modules. He then alluded to Mark Reinhold and John Duimovich's keynote at EclipseCON next week. Stay tuned.

Evil Master Plan
In conclusion, Adam finally admitted to Oracle's Evil Master Plan: 1) Invest in and improve Java SE and EE 2) Collaborate with the community 3) Broaden the marketplace for Java development. Bwaaaaaaaaahahaha! <rubs hands together>

Key Links
JDK7 Developer Preview
Oracle Technology Network
TheServerSide Java Symposium
"Utopia or Deuteranopia?"


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