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Java SE 9, OpenJDK energize Java community at JavaOne 2017

From the release of Java 9 to the GPL of OpenJDK builds, recent Oracle announcements have energized the Java community, creating a palpable positivity at JavaOne 2017.

The energy at JavaOne 2017 is more positive and enthusiastic than any year in recent memory, and it's certainly got a more positive vibe than any JavaOne conference since Oracle took over the stewardship of the language back in 2009.

In years past, Oracle often alienated the Java community with a variety of poorly received business decisions that ranged from suing Google over the Android operating system to the firing of a number of Java evangelists just weeks before the Oracle OpenWorld conference. These moves tended to raise the collective eyebrow of the Java community and always cast varying degrees of shadows over the JavaOne conference.

But this year, Oracle has ramped up its preconference public relations game with a handful of well-received announcements that have hyped up the Java community. "The big news, of course, is that we've released Java SE 9, and it's got all the cool new stuff," said an enthusiastic Michael Lehmann, Oracle's vice president of product management. "Jigsaw is finally available, so people can finally build modular, lightweight applications with it. The JShell REPL tool came out with it, too. I think there's upward of 150 odd new features with the platform."

Bragging rights and new releases

So, instead of backtracking on release dates and having to explain why a widely anticipated feature might be delayed, Oracle brass has earned bragging rights with these new, full version releases. More importantly, those bragging rights extend beyond the Java Development Kit (JDK) and right through to the enterprise edition of the software with the release of Java EE 8.

And there's more for the Java community to feel good about at JavaOne 2017 than just the latest versions of these flagship products. "What's most interesting is that we've changed the development and release model. The plan is to go to a six-month release cadence," Lehmann said. "And Oracle will be providing OpenJDK builds under the GPL [General Public License] licensing model, and that's a big change for Oracle."

Oracle has some very talented and very good people in the JDK team who care a lot about the community.
Simon Mapledirector of developer relations at ZeroTurnaround

Of course, to characterize all of this as simply a bunch of smart public relations moves is a disservice to the language architects and software visionaries who have always been doing their best to move the Java platform forward. Even when the business side of Oracle was making decisions that riled the Java community, there was always the knowledge that people like language architect Brian Goetz or chief architect Mark Reinhold were going to fight for what was right for the Java language, even if that meant going up against what was best for Oracle.

"Deep down, Oracle has some very talented and very good people in the JDK team who care a lot about the community," said Simon Maple, director of developer relations at ZeroTurnaround. "When we see good coming out of Oracle, it's that team that's prevailing. When we don't see good, it's largely the business team."

Throw in the proposed alignment between the Oracle JDK and the OpenJDK projects, along with the move to hand over control of Java EE to the Eclipse Foundation, and there are plenty of things for attendees of JavaOne 2017 to be excited about. There's definitely a positive energy permeating throughout the Java community at this year's conference.

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What other changes could Oracle make to the Java platform that would be well-received by the Java community?
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