Guy Kindermans Guy Kindermans is freelance journalist bij Data News.

JavaOne 2010 heralded the first edition of the Java platform topevent with Oracle as the steward of Java’s future. And it would appear to be a stewardship with a strong grip on that future, as Java’s newest roadmap seems to suggest.

It was actually quite impressive to find on one of the first slides by Thomas Kurian, v-p product development, references to topics that have long been time points of contention in the Java universe. ‘Project Coin’, about productivity with more concise code! ‘Project Lambda’, closures for Java! ‘Project Jigsaw’, the modular Java Platform! Suddenly they popped up in the roadmap as if they were a ‘done thing’.

Result driven

Clearly, Oracle aims to pursue a much more result driven development process for Java, rather than Sun’s more engineering oriented approach. Kurian minced no words about the need to optimize the platform “for new application models and new hardware.” A statement as ‘provide Java VM support for multiple languages’ also leaves no doubt about the future.

Higher productivity for Java developers, better support for the new processors, memory and networking models – Java clearly must pull its weight in a decidedly more commercial oriented environment. Similarly, Kurian made strong announcements about JavaFX (“easy for Java developers”, “new 2D and 3D graphics engine”) and HTML5 (native interoperability between Java, JavaScript and HTML5), with Oracle “committed to making JavaFX UI controls available in open source.” These JavaFX announcements were topped off by a quite impressive graphics demo. Regarding NetBeans, he announced two new releases for 2011, with a committed feature list, as well as stating that “downloads were up 20 procent in the past six months.” And the application servers are to become more modular, with “pojo and ejb programming [to be made] significantly more productive.” and “[a] better interoperability with scripting and dynamic languages.” Of GlassFish, there will be two releases as well in 2011. And “more external contributors are welcome.”

Clarity pays off, but…

The advantage of this kind of approach is ‘clarity’. This way, everyday users of the Java platform in general, and developers in particular, get a more ‘deterministic’ view of Java’s future. And that’s fine for those whose income depends on working with Java. Take for instance Kurian’s remark about JavaFX on CLDC-type mobile phones: “It doesn’t make technical sense to have JavaFX on this type of mobile,” so that’s a clear ‘no go’.

But this clarity did not clarify all outstanding issues. What about the lawsuit with Google? What about the wrangling with the Apache Foundation about open source versions of the TCK (Technology Compatibility Kit – a suite of tests, tools and documentation that determines whether or not a product complies with a particular Java technology specification, dixit the JCP)? Particularly when the major supporter of Project Harmony – IBM – has decided to throw its weight behind OpenJDK? Or what about the demand to put Java SE on smartphones? Most of these questions resulted in a polite but firm ‘no comment’. In particular, the continuing uncertainty with regard to the future of the JCP is not very helpful in this.

Time and again however, Thomas Kurian did state that the OpenJDK will be indicative of Java’s future. “We will support the new features in the OpenJDK,” was his message. And yes, the roadmap was reviewed “with the developers community and JCP,” stated Thomas Kurian.

That made the technical keynote on Java SE by Mark Reinhold, chief architect, Java Platform Group, all the more important, as he did show what really is on the drawing board. Thus productivity enhancing elements in project Coin were followed by statements how a better use of multi core processors and multi-threading will be realized. But also announcements about the ‘death’ of classpath (applause) and a convergence of the two JVM’s at Oracle, based on HotSpot with JRockit extensions as e.g. the ‘Flight recorder’.

As to when all these goodies will become available, Oracle did poll the community, he said. As the previous version of the Standard Edition already dates from 2006, it was suggested to reduce the time interval between new versions significantly by introducing ‘smaller scale’ updates. And clearly the attendees of JavaOne too were in favour of this approach, considering their applause following this announcement and the promise to have a new version every 18 months. This is an interesting evolution, as I do remember the days when attendees at JavaOne grumbled about too many changes (in the api’s) too fast… As it is, Java SE 7 will appear mid 2011, with Project Coin (JSR still ’to be determined’, however), InvokeDynamic (JSR 292) and Fork/Join Framework (no JSR) as major changes, while Project Jigsaw (modularity) and Project Lambda – both projects without JSR’s – are scheduled for SE 8, late 2012.

Java EE and ME

With regard to the Enterprise Edition, Oracle reports a faster than expected uptake of Java EE 6 since its introduction in December last year. Plenty of its changes have to do with api’s, either new or updated ones. Among those, Jax-RS 1.1, Bean Validation and managed Beans 1.0 were shown. Furthermore, Java EE and cloud computing will be much more attuned to each other, with plenty of changes and tweaks. “This will be an evolution ,” dixit Roberto Chinnici, Java EE lead, as no revolution is needed to make Java EE stronger in the cloud. New will be more modular and better packaged applications, as well as an enhanced web tier. As usual, Java EE will build on the work of Java SE.

In the world of Embedded Java, chief architect Greg Bollella stated that Oracle “is committed to modernizing the Java ME platform,” as considered in the Project Java ME.Next. There is to be more compatibility between CDC and CLDC (with common updates), with furthermore an integration of Java ME and web content.

Ultimately, all this must introduce Java in lots more nooks and crannies than even today is the case, with Java already used in devices from smartcards up to large mainframes. No surprise then that ‘Shelley’ was the big star at the ‘Java Frontier’ session: a very high-power Audi TT-S that fully autonomous, without a human driver, participates in the winding (156 turns) and utterly slippery Pikes Peak ‘hillclimb’ race, the ‘Race to the clouds’!

Guy Kindermans

There is a need to optimize the Java platform for new application models and new hardware

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