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New Java Releases Will Tackle Developer Pain Points

By Roger Smith

 

JavaOne 2015 Keynote Focuses on Future Java Platforms

The half-dozen presentations in the opening JavaOne keynote featured a few looks in the rearview mirror to honor Java's 20-year rise to become the dominate general-purpose computer programming language, but otherwise it was a pedal to the metal focus on new features in the various Java ME, Java SE and Java EE platforms. A familiar face from Java's past also made a brief and humorous video appearance to cap an eventful 2-hour session on Sunday, October 25, 2015 at Moscone Center in San Francisco.

Host Georges Saab (VP Java Platform Development at Oracle) welcomed Michael Greene (VP Software and Service Group at Intel) who discussed Intel's history with Java. "Two important things happened in 1995," Green said, "I married my wife of 20 years and Intel acquired its first Java source license. I was one of the first Intel engineers dedicated to insuring Java works best on Intel hardware and that transformed my career. Twenty years later, I'm glad to say we haven't missed a beat."

The bulk of Green's presentation covered what Intel has done since joining the OpenJDK community in 2014 to promote open source implementations of Java. He announced that the Intel IoT Developer Kit now supports Java, which will make it easier for Java developers to address sensors, stream data and work with data on the web, He also said that Intel's Quark, a new embedded low-power processor designed for small mobile devices like wearable computers, will now run Java ME.

Mark Reinhold (Chief Architect, Java Platform Group) took the stage to discuss features in the next Java 9 SE release, now scheduled for 2016. He explained that Java has evolved over the years by tackling pain point that Java developers complain about through the Java Community Process. "In Java 5, we introduced generics; in Java 8, we introduced lambdas, and in Java 9, we'll be introducing modularity to create a scalable and more secure platform." Reinhold explained that modularity is intended to ease the pain of constructing, maintaining and distributing large applications by removing the "JAR hell" developers currently experience when trying to install software packages that have dependencies on specific versions of other software packages. He noted that 'JAR hell' is such a common developer complaint that it has its own Wikipedia page to describe all the various ways in which the classloading process can end up not working. Modularity will not have the same impact on the average developer as lambdas have had in Java SE 8, Reinhold said. "Modules are more like seat belts than lambda expression jet packs."

Brian Goetz, Java Language Architect, then talked about what's in store for future Java SE releases beyond Java 9. Project Valhalla will add value types, which are highly-efficient small 'objects' that do not have an inheritance property, and Project Panama builds a bridge between Java and C/C++ by providing a native interconnect between code managed by the JVM and APIs for non-Java /C++ libraries. Both of these projects are intended to provide more efficient access to data and better control over data layout in memory to achieve higher performance.

Engineering VP Anil Gaur next gave an update on Java EE release 8, which is expected in the first half of 2017. Gaur said that, based on a survey that received over 4,500 responses, the Java EE community has prioritized the desired features for the next Java EE platform release, which includes new APIs for JSON Processing, RESTful Web Services and Java EE Security, among other features.

The keynote ended with a surprise video that featured former Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy, who talked about how Sun developed the Java language. "I hired James Gosling in the early 1990s because Bill Joy said he was the best programmer he knew. I took his advice because Bill was the best programmer I knew. After a while, James got bored and threatened to quit. I told him I would give him the resources to do anything he wanted, as long as he didn't quit. What he wanted to do is develop a "write once, run anywhere" language. Which he did, and which is why we all now have the Java language."

McNealy concluded his short video with the following "top 12 list of Java Developer nightmares of 2015":

#12. Screenglare
#11. Entry level developers are now in the top income bracket
#10. Product marketing specs, customer deadlines and style guides
# 9. Your peer programming partner starts at 7am, with bad breath
# 8. You've got a great seat on the commuter bus, but the wifi is broken
#7. Larry raised the price of coffee
# 6. James Gosling is working at Liquid Rocket, not at Oracle
# 5. No ping pong balls and no beer
# 4. You love open source software and sharing, but you work at Oracle
# 3. Bay area traffic, California taxes, no rain and marijuana is illegal
# 2. You love your company chef, but he is on a 2-week maternity leave
# 1. The former CEO and current CTO is making ship to shore calls to you on a regular basis."

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