Tuesday Sep 24, 2013

The Eleventh Annual Java Community Process Program Awards

by Timothy Beneke and Janice J. Heiss

In a festive room teeming with over 200 people, including many celebrated Java luminaries,
along with excellent food and drink, the 9th annual JCP Program Awards were handed out atop the majestic Hilton Hotel on Monday night. As the JCP states, “The Java Community Process (JCP) program celebrates success. Members of the community nominate worthy participants, Spec Leads, and Java Specification Requests (JSRs) in order to cheer on the hard work and creativity that produces ground-breaking results for the community and industry in the Java Standard Edition (SE), Java Enterprise Edition (EE), or Java Micro Edition (ME) platforms.”

The JCP added a new awards category this year for Adopt-a-JSR program participants, bringing the total to four: JCP Member/Participant of the Year, Outstanding Spec Lead, Most Significant JSR, and Outstanding Adopt-a-JSR Participant.

The room was full of good cheer, playful humor, a music band of Java developers, and enthusiastic appreciation of much that has been accomplished on behalf of Java technology in the previous year.

The nominees and winners in their respective categories were:

JCP Member/Participant of the Year

--Azul Systems, Gil Tene

--London Java Community (LJC), Ben Evans, Martijn Verburg, Richard Warburton, Graham Allan

--Mohamed Taman

The winner was Azul System’s Gil Tene. The JCP said, “Gil has worked diligently to provide clear advice on matters of Software Patents, IP and licensing that seeks to benefit both non-profits/individuals etc as well as organizations with vested commercial interests in Java. It's not easy delving into the depths of the legal aspects and the potential impacts of changes to the JCP, but with help from folks like Gil we're hopeful for a solid and fair outcome.”

Tene characterized his approach to the JCP as follows: “I represent Azul Systems on the JCP EC, but I try to apply an approach of ‘do the right thing first’ in my choices and positions. Coming from a small company that depends on Java and its ecosystem for its livelihood, I see my role as representing the interests of an entire sector of non-big-company commercial folks and of individual and professional developers out there, and providing some offset and balance to the normal mix of such boards.”

Outstanding Spec Lead

--Brian Goetz, Oracle

--Jitendra Kotamraju, Oracle

--Anatole Tresch, Credit Suisse

--Chris Vignola, IBM

The winner, Oracle’s Brian Goetz, was recognized, “For tirelessly working away at an incredibly complex JSR - JSR 335, Lambda Expressions for the Java Programming Language. From a community point of view, we've appreciated his willingness to listen and consider ideas from other technologists as well as spending time with groups of developers to understand the impact of Lambdas on Java.”

Goetz offered a statement in response to the award for his leadership in creating Lambda Expressions for the Java Language, which also won for most significant JSR. He said that lambdas, “represent a coordinated co-evolution of the Java SE platform, including the VM, language, and core libraries to provide developers with a powerful upgrade -- quite likely the largest ever -- to the Java SE programming model. We started this JSR in early 2010, but the topic of closures-in-Java had already been in play in the community for many years prior, and, of course, there was a broad diversity of opinions as to what direction, how far, and how fast to evolve the Java programming model. In the end, the most significant dimension of the challenge turned out to be: how do we integrate these new features in the language and libraries without them feeling grafted on after-the-fact. I think developers will find programming with this ‘new and improved Java’ to be a very pleasant experience -- I know I have.”

Most Significant JSR

--JSR 335, Lambda Expressions for the Java Programming Language

--JSR 344, JavaServer Faces (JSF) 2.2

--JSR 352, Batch Applications for the Java Platform

--JSR 354, Money and Currency API

--JSR 355, JCP Executive Committee Merge

The winner, as previously mentioned, was JSR 335, Lambda Expressions for the Java Programming Language, which the JCP praised as follows:

“This brings Java kicking and screaming into the modern programming language age and is seen as a catalyst for the second age of Java. It's underlying discoveries and improvements with regards to Type Inference has also resulted in a stronger JVM for all.”

Spec lead Brian Goetz, in picking up the award, remarked, “This is something we’ve been working on for three-and-a-half-years and it’s nice to be looking at it through the rear-view mirror.”

Outstanding Adopt-a-JSR Participant

--BeJUG, Johan Vos

--CeJUG, Helio Frota, Hildeberto Mendonça

--JUG Chennai, Rajmahendra (Raj) Hegde

--Morocco JUG and EGJUG, Mohamed Taman, Faissal Boutaounte

The winner was Morocco JUG and EGJUG, Mohamed Taman, and Faissal Boutaounte, who were praised, “For adopting JSR 339, JAX-RS 2.0 specification, along with many other JSRs. One JIRA issue filed by Morocco JUG on JSR 339 was classified as a ‘release-stopper’. A quick JIRA search using the ‘adoptajsr’ tag shows that most of the JIRA issues have been created by MoroccoJUG members. Several presentations and source code have been organized by these groups. Mohamed presented sessions about the upcoming technologies to widen the range of users in the future, especially Java EE 7 JSRs and spreading of community progress and contributions that make us encouraged to participate. Mohamed sent a clear message that Africa is here and is full of talented people who are willing to take it to the next level. Mohamed was responsible for translating an Arabic Adopt-s-JSR web page to allow more Arabs to participate.”

Taman said that, “Currently, I hold two positions, one as a Business Solutions Systems Architect and design supervisor and Java Team leader, at a big financial services company in Egypt, which affects all the country by building solutions affecting Egyptians every day, by providing more facilities for businesses and enhancing the economy… I am passionate about Java. I really love it and have fun coding, and love seeing it grow, day by day, as if it were my kid.”

The Annual Java Community Process Program Awards at  JavaOne is an event and party not to be missed!

The Java Community Process

Monday Sep 23, 2013

The JavaOne 2013 Technical Keynote

by Timothy Beneke

Mark Reinhold, Oracle’s Chief Architect, the Java Platform Group, took the stage to kick off Sunday’s technical keynote at the Moscone Center. He began by quoting “father of Java” James Gosling. For Java to thrive, it must maintain what Gosling called the “feel of Java”. In other words, it must retain the key values of readability, simplicity, and universality.

“If we keep those,” said Reinhold, “then Java will remain not just productive but fun. It is not enough to simply add popular features each year.”

Lambda Expressions – The Single Largest Upgrade Ever
He turned to lambda expressions, which he described as the single largest upgrade to the programming model ever -- larger even than generics. “This is the first time we have done a carefully coordinated co-evolution of the JVM, the language, and the libraries all together – and the results still feel like Java,” said Reinhold.

He then welcomed Oracle Java Language Architect, Brian Goetz, to share the stage and began by remarking that while most developers understand that lambda offers a simple way to express code as data, some are not sure how it helps Java. Goetz responded that lambda expressions would more than help Java. “It’s going to change the way we all program in Java every day,” he explained. “Programming well is about finding the right abstractions. We want the code we write to look like the problem statements it’s trying to solve, so we can look at it and immediately know it’s correct. Java has always given us good tools for abstracting over data types. I wanted to do better in abstracting over patterns of behavior – that’s where lambda comes in.”

He illustrated this with some simple code that was, strictly speaking, “good” code, but weighed down with boilerplate and did not read like the problem statement it was trying to solve. It could be improved by using an inner class tool, but that too generated a lot of boilerplate. Reinhardt pointed out that improving the code made it less pleasant to work with, as if the developer was being punished for doing the right thing. This often causes developers to give up and do it the “dumb and ugly way”.

Lambdas can replace inner classes with a lambda expression which is simply an anonymous method that captures a behavior without a lot of syntactic boilerplate. “Lambdas are a nicer syntax,” said Goetz. “But they are also something deeper. It’s not just a compiler generating inner classes for you – it uses the invokedynamic feature to get more compact and higher performance code. It will make a qualitative difference in the way we program.”

If the right way to write a program is unpleasant, then people are less likely to do it according to Goetz. They are more tolerant of doing it the wrong way. He gave an example of how lambda expressions address this with the collections API involving a new abstraction to the JDK called stream and showed how to represent a simple query through applying a filter and mapping transformation, followed by an aggregation, in a way that is fused into one path without creating any intermediate weapons.

Reinhold summarized the key points: “So lambda brings 3 weapons to Java – syntax, performance and abstraction.”

“Plus parallelism,” Goetz added. He explained that Java 7 has the fork/join framework for parallel decomposition that is powerful, flexible, and highly efficient – but not the easiest thing to use. Goetz showed how lambdas enable better parallelism without needing to write fork join code: by asking the collection for a parallel stream it uses fork/join under the hood.

Lambda also helps with normal sequential code by making code clearer, less noisy, and easier to read. “When you have code that is hard to read, that’s where bugs come from. You are trying to maintain some code, you look at the code and think you know what it does, but don’t actually know what it does, and boom! – you’ve introduced a bug.”

All in all, the message was clear: Lambda expressions make Java code easier to read and easier to write.

Working with Lambda and the Collections Framework
For lambdas to be successful, they must work with the Java Collections Framework, which is now 15 years old. So an evolution of the interface was in order. Goetz’s team had to grow an interface over time without breaking implementations of the interface. They added a concept that allows developers to compatibly add a method to an interface, as long as a default implementation is provided.

Reinhold remarked that he has now written a couple of thousand lines of code with lambda features and really enjoyed it. “I can be more productive, and the end result still feels like Java,” he said.

To get started learning lambda expressions, Java developers can go to the OpenJDK Project Lambda page and download the developer preview builds there.

Reinhold reminded attendees that there is a great deal more in Java SE 8 besides lambda expressions. Developer preview builds can be downloaded at JDK8.java.net. “Now is a great time to download JDK 8 and take it for a spin. Every planned feature is in there. It’s reasonably stable and it passes almost all of the tests. If you have any feedback, please send it in!” said Reinhold. 

Playing Chess
In the rest of the technical keynote, Oracle’s John Ceccarelli, head of engineering for Oracle’s NetBeans team and Oracle’s JavaFX architect Jasper Potts, arrived on stage to demonstrate a Duke pad running real Java via a chess program that was connected to a server. The iPad operated through an HTML5 client talking to a Java EE 7 back end with an EE server in charge of  messaging, communication, game state, and so on, with clients hook into it – all built with NetBeans. Jasper Potts further showed off the chess demo with an HTML5 client using a front end to a chess server that was managing the chess games. Then a robot, powered by Java ME 8, took over the game.

Oracle Software Engineer, Santiago Pericas Geertsen, who built the chess server, also described how it was built with 5 distinct functional modules.

In sum, attendees witnessed a server running Java EE 7 hooked up with a variety of clients, some written in HTML5, one written in JavaFX on a Duke pad, one using JavaFX 3D on a powerful laptop, plus a Java ME 8-powered robot contributing to the ongoing chess game. In the process, the powers of the Raspberry Pi were demonstrated.

Developers were encouraged to jump in the water, go for a swim, and have fun with NetBeans and Java embedded.

Java SE 9 and Beyond
Wrapping it up, Reinhold peered a bit into the future and suggested some possible directions for Java, some of which are already in development:

One is Java on GPUs, graphic processing units. As GPUs are being used more and more widely to process big data he suggested that it would be good to make Java work directly with the GPU rather than having to call out to some primitive interface. An OpenJDK called Sumatra has people working on this.

Reinhold spoke of the need for reification. Java’s generics, added in 2004, are based on the notion of erasure for good technical reasons as a sound way to create a type system that supports migration compatibility. But this creates programming problems in which the erasure approach severely limits what can be expressed. Reinhold suggested that introducing some reification and eliminating the “annoying dichotomy between primitive and reference types” would be of value.

He mentioned JNI 2.0 and said, “It just shouldn’t be so hard to integrate Java with native code after all these years.”

He called for memory efficient data structures: “As we get into big data – all this boxing and pointer chasing makes it hard to do big data well. We could have less boxing and pointer chasing and load a lot more data into memory.”

Finally, he talked about the notion of a truly modular platform. “The compact profile in Java 8 is a start but it is not flexible enough. We need to continue to unify the Java SE and Java ME platforms.”

JDK 8

OpenJDK Project Lambda

Watch Keynote and Session Highlights on Demand

Friday Sep 13, 2013

An Interview with Venkat Subramaniam before JavaOne

JavaOne Rock Star and Java Champion, Venkat Subramaniam, sees a lot to be excited about with regard to Java.[Read More]

Josh Juneau – Learning More at JavaOne

Jython expert Josh Juneau on Java development today.[Read More]

Thursday Aug 15, 2013

Trying Out Lambda Expressions in the Eclipse IDE

A new article, now up on otn/java, by Deepak Vohra, titled “Trying Out Lambda Expressions in the Eclipse IDE,” demonstrates how to take advantage of lambda expressions in Java SE 8 using the Eclipse IDE and virtual extension methods.

Vohra begins with the basics:
“Lambda expressions, also called closures, are a short-form replacement for anonymous classes. Lambda expressions simplify the use of interfaces that declare a single abstract method, which are also called functional interfaces. In Java SE 7, a single method interface can be implemented with one of the following options.
* Create a class that implements the interface.
* Create an anonymous class.”

Vohra explains that while lambda expressions can be used to implement a functional interface without creating a class or an anonymous class, they can be used only with interfaces that declare a single method.

Benefits of lambda expressions include:
* Concise syntax
* Method references and constructor references
* Reduced runtime overhead compared to anonymous classes

Vohra gets under the hood to explain the basics of lambda syntax, along with the nature of functional interfaces and target types, offering copious examples. All in all, the article offers a first-rate primer on how to make use of lambda expressions and virtual extension methods using the Eclipse IDE.

Check out the story here.

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