Wednesday Nov 25, 2009

☞ Adding Closures At Last

  • "Revising a programming language that’s in active use by millions of developers is no small task. Sun neither can nor should do it alone, so I hereby invite everyone who participated in the earlier closures conversations—as well as anyone else with an informed opinion—to join us."

Wednesday Nov 18, 2009

☞ Sometimes the Improbable is the Answer

Sunday Jul 05, 2009

Lula's Free Java Ring

Lula's Java Ring

The Brazilian economy is powered by the Java platform - even their new Free digital TV standard uses it. They took the decision to use Java for so much in part when we (Bruno, myself and a number of others) assured them, a number of years ago, that there would be Free implementations. The story ever since has been snowballing investment in Java skills and an economy capable not only of supporting its own needs but also of exporting skills - they've been making Java a priority for years.

When I was honoured to be invited to meet the President of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, at this year's FISL event in Porto Alegre, I naturally accepted. I decided to give him a Java Ring, a wearable Java-powered computer, as a symbolic token of the deep symbiosis between Brazil, the Java platform and Free software.

He took it enthusiastically, put it on straight away - and it fit him. He said that having a computer on his finger made him feel like James Bond and he posed for photographs with it.


The visit by the President of Brazil to (probably) the largest Free software event in the world is a landmark for the Free software movement. In his speech at the event, Lula recognised especially the work of Sergio Amadeu (once Lula's advisor on IT and the man Microsoft tried to sue for being honest about their strategy) and commented on the years of work that had been involved "preparing the meal" on which the country was now able to feast. In response to Marcelo Branco and the many others who had been lobbying him since he arrived at the event, he also too the opportunity to set his face against the terrible internet laws being proposed for Brazil.

The visit was a landmark in at least three ways:

  • It represented the first visit I'm aware of to a Free software event of a head of state - in this case the head of the 14th largest economy in the world
  • The speech demonstrated the key role Free software leaders like Sergio and Marcello have had in shaping the IT strategy in the country;
  • The deprecation of the internet laws demonstrated that the Free software community actually has a powerful lobbying voice.
Stallman Honoured in Brazil

What was also fascinating was the regard in which Lula - and his ministers - held Richard Stallman. When the Finance minister came along the line-up before Lula arrived he commented on seeing Stallman "I know you!". Lula himself gave a warm and firm welcome to Stallman. Free software has been over 25 years in the making, but in Brazil it took place as a recognised force in affairs of state, in a way I am sure will be repeated globally in coming years.

Tuesday Jun 09, 2009

OpenJDK Board gets Google & Red Hat Members

Over the weekend, Mark announced he's updated the OpenJDK Interim Governance Board page to add details of the two new members Sun has asked to join the Board to navigate towards a permanent OpenJDK governance system. They are both well-known contributors to OpenJDK, and in fact when I asked Mark Wielaard to suggest the best pick for new Board members they were the names he suggested. They are:

  • Andrew Haley, of Red Hat, GCJ co-maintainer and Classpath corner-stone, and
  • Martin Buchholz, of Google, a developer of the JDK core libraries at Sun for many years.

I'm delighted they are joining the Board and, while there's no crisis to solve since the existing interim governance is mostly working fine, I hope their arrival will help us formalise arrangements at last.

Wednesday Jun 03, 2009

TweetSwoop: Illuminata's Take on JavaOne

I ran into analyst Jonathan Eunice this afternoon. Jonathan's long experience following Sun and Java makes him a great person to ask for an insightful and impartial view of the news so I asked him about JavaFX, Java EE 6, JDK 7, Oracle and more.

Tuesday Jun 02, 2009

TweetSwoop: Java ME Fragmentation Initiative?

I'm at JavaOne in San Francisco and this is a TweetSwoop, where I swoop on people who know the answers to the questions I've seen on Twitter.

This TweetSwoop asks Sun Director Simon Nicholson about the Java ME fragmentation initiatives launched this week at JavaOne by a group of key mobile industry companies, Java Verified and JATAF.

TweetSwoop: US Only Java Store?

I'm trying something new today. Having finally given in to the desire to buy a personal video recorder (the Flip Ultra HD), I decided to use it to swoop on people who know the answers to the questions I've seen on Twitter.

My first TweetSwoop victim interviewee was Jeet Kaul, who I asked the question I'd seen from @The_Contrarian, who asked why the new Java Store was closed and under a kind of NDA and from a number of people asking why it was restricted to the US.

Tuesday May 12, 2009

☞ It's the people that make it work

  • "OPS4J stands for Open Participation Software for Java, and this community is trying to build a new, more open model for Open Source development, where not only the usage is Open and Free, but the Participation is Open as well. Removal of barriers, let more people in, have more fun and less politics. I have also seen Open Development as a term to describe this. Think of it as Wiki brought to Coding." -- Open source succeeded by balancing opportunity and freedom, individual priority and community cohesion. Does this approach have that balance? We'll see.
  • Spolsky is right, B&H is an incredible place to visit if you're in New York - a real one-of-a-kind experience. I have bought a variety of camera gear there and always been delighted both by the advice given (not always with a smile) and by the prices.

Wednesday May 06, 2009

☞ Innovation vs Corporate Effects

Tuesday May 05, 2009

☞ Governance, Copyright Bullying and Making Things Work

Sunday Apr 19, 2009

Java Needs A Cloud Profile

Sun and Clouds

Back in 1995 I was a huge fan and advocate of Java - at IBM - because it provided developers and deployers a universal layer that promised to reduce the lock-in caused by platform differences. The JCP went on to define a limited number of Java profiles and in the areas where the market has stuck to them we've seen great things happen. And in the place  it hasn't - Java ME - we've seen messy fragmentation that's held the market back. We risk the same thing happening in the Cloud if we don't define a Java Cloud Profile soon.


Just before the Easter break here in the UK, I made a passing remark (in a link roundup and on Twitter) to the fact that Google has added Java support to their App Engine cloud hosting product. I did so because I've been associated with the Java platforms ever since I helped get IBM to support them before joining Sun (where I haven't really been involved with Sun's Java team).

To my surprise, a journalist decided this was big news and wrote a story implying Sun was "slamming" Google. That in turn led to a discussion on Slashdot where a whole lot of people asserted a whole lot of things based on the assumption my pithy micro-blogging comment was a treatise on Sun's behalf as well as on a weak grasp of Java standardisation, politics and history. Gah. Now I'm back from Oslo, I've time to comment properly.


To be clear, I am delighted Google are supporting the Java platform on App Engine. Doing so grows the opportunity for the whole Java community. It allows a great deal of existing code to be re-used and offers use of a wide range of additional programming languages. It is a great solution to the problem many of us have had for years, that Java hosting is hard to find and hard to use when you do. GAE/j is a good thing and I welcome it, especially if it grows Google's engagement with the open source Java community.

Moreover, it seems entirely likely that Google's approach here to "subsetting" is simply because they haven't yet gotten around to making everything safe in their sandbox, not because they have some deep philosophical belief that those things should be removed. Reports I have seen suggest they have largely used a SecurityManager implementation (although there are some worrying reports also of people getting ClassNotFoundException for core classes). If they've simply made a temporary, pragmatic, resource-driven decision, we should all encourage them to work towards full compatibility as they head out of alpha. That doesn't change my reaction to the general issue, though.

Fragmentation Risk

My reaction related more to the fact that we can't afford as a community to leave this just to happen. While pragmatic innovation is a good thing on the part of an individual developer or even a diverse community, in the hands of a rich, powerful corporation it can - even unwittingly - quickly become market manipulation. That's why the JCP has striven to prevent unilateral subsetting. I can't speak for Sun - I am nothing to do with Java strategy at Sun - but I believe the Java community needs a new, agreed Java cloud profile.

If we allow each cloud provider in turn to define their own subset, we will be left in the same ugly position we have with Java on mobile phones where the common specification doesn't go deep enough and forces applications to be refactored for every different platform. On the cloud, this equates to having no freedom-to-leave - you'll be stuck with a price ticket if you ever want to move platforms.

Community Solution?

I was already worried about that topic and think we need a common set of APIs for provisioning in the cloud (Tim has started), a common way to abstract data storage and an abstraction layer so that applications written for the cloud can move freely between providers. Java would be perfect for this last item - but not if every provider has a different subset. That's the real meaning of "compatibility" in a Java context - not needing to refactor for equivalent deployment in different places.

What we need as a global Java community is "Java for Cloud" somehow. Given their good work so far, I'd like Google to show leadership and a commitment to openness by taking their subset to the JCP and offering to join a working group to establish a new Java profile for cloud applications. I hope Sun would enthusiastically engage. I know that there's already some work aimed at Java EE 6 to create a "web profile" - let's get a community effort going here so that innovation means progress and not lock-in.

Saturday Oct 04, 2008

The Conference That's Worth Attending

Keystone Conference Centre

I speak at loads of conferences, but there's one I have been attending for nearly a decade which I'd like to recommend you consider. Every year I go the content is spot on, and I know I have to find new insights for the audience in my annual keynote because they are all probably more qualified to be speaking than I am.

This conference:

  • Features technical sessions of depth and current relevance to practicing enterprise software developers without hyping a particular fad;
  • Features speakers who are current practitioners, all of whom have high speaker-quality ratings from previous events;
  • Schedules each talk to run two or three times so you can attend everything you want to;
  • Includes a daily open town-hall meeting for questions and problem solving;
  • Is a favoured destination for long-term open source contributors, especially from Apache;
  • Just announced they will be making the most of Apple dropping the iPhone NDA to include an iPhone developer track with real code from real developers;
  • Is a non-partisan, privately-run event with no exhibits, no "sponsors" skewing the agenda and no marketing hype allowed and no marketing droids presenting;
  • Has been running for seventeen years paid for solely by attendee fees, and has the highest repeat attendee rate of any event I know;
  • Is a family affair, run by a family for their extended family of friends and soon-to-be-friends;
  • Is held in a beautiful high mountain retreat where everyone, delegates and speakers, stay all week and meet and eat together. Delegates go home with a rich contact list as a result;
  • Has great food;
  • Is probably the best technical conference in the world.

If you're an enterprise developer with a leaning towards open source and the Java platform (in all its modern incarnations), you should consider attending this event, despite the fact I will be presenting a keynote there for the ninth time. Try Dave Landers for a second opinion.

The event?  Colorado Software Summit, in Keystone, Colorado. I hope I'll see you there.

Tuesday Jun 24, 2008

Old News - OpenJDK Still United

I'm not sure what it is that's making ZDNet treat the interviews I gave last month in Australia as new news, but to be clear, the comments they are reporting and that Slashdot and DZone have been trying to spin as divisive are nothing of the sort (if this all passed you by, please ignore - I'm not in the mode to give any of the above any link love). I note Rich Sharples is also helping tidy up. The work the IcedTea folks did to make OpenJDK 6 capable of passing the TCK have been contributed back to the OpenJDK community and are being integrated.

People are working together just the way one would hope they would. My previous comments about JDK diversity hold. And my delight that we finally have a Free, compatible Java implementation based on shared, open source code is still making me smile, as the audience here in Zürich for Jazoon saw this morning.

Thursday Jun 19, 2008

Free, Compatible Java at last

Ripening pear

Yesterday was a landmark that plenty of us have been working towards for nearly a decade. As MR and I have been indicating for a while now, the remaining obstacles to a fully compatible and Free implementation of Java SE have all been removed by efforts like renegotiating the terms for the source of Java 2D and various community members (Sun and others) re-implementing some of the other code.

But the proof is in the fruit of the process, and yesterday it was confirmed that the implementation of OpenJDK 6 that the Fedora community has packaged does indeed pass the TCK. This is a huge achievement for everyone who has been involved - the Fedora team that Rich mentions in that last link, the team that MR leads at Sun, the team that I lead, plus the many, many people who have worked for a Free Java for so many years.

Some may fear, as Fabrizio does, that this (and the many GNU/Linux, OpenSolaris and BSD packages that will follow) will lead to such a diverse set of Java implementations that "write once, run everywhere" is doomed. I don't agree.

What made Java so compatible, in my view, was the fact that almost all versions found in the wild were built with Sun's class libraries even if they used a different VM. With Sun opening the reference implementation and then the community taking it on and embracing it, we now have that same basic code-base at the root of Free implementations everywhere. And we now have the benefits of community diversity to ensure many eyes are making bugs shallow and that innovation is accelerated.

Free, compatible Java everywhere. That's exactly what we all wanted, and we have it at last.


Thoughts and pointers on digital freedoms and technology markets. With a few photos too.


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