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The theme of the opening day address at JavaOne 2017 was preparing Java to be the preferred language for the new generation of developers. Mark Cavage, VP of Product Development at Oracle, spoke of his hope that businesses and developers will start to realize that, since they ultimately turn to Java when they need to scale anyway, they should start with Java in the first place. “We want the next decade to be Java first, Java always.”
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Cavage drew attention to four areas where Java has, in the past, fallen short in the quest to be the most useful language for development. He pointed out the need for improvement in being more open, nimble, evolving, and scalable. Of course, pursuing these goals is easier said than done. “It’s easy to add things, hard to change things, and almost impossible to get rid of things. But you have to do it, because there are use cases from 20 years ago that aren’t relevant today.”
A fully open Java paves the way for change
Oracle is counting on the development community to play a big role in moving Java forward. That’s why the announcement that Java is being completely opened up and placed under the guidance of the Eclipse Foundation was critical news. Mark promised his audience that open JDK binaries will now be produced under the GPO license, “Free and open. Java like you’ve never had before.” One outcome should be that differences between the Open JDK and Oracle JDK will vanish, with the specialized capabilities of the commercial version being made available for all. There will no longer be an elite version for large scale enterprises that is less accessible to the masses.
The availability (and affordability) of a truly open source Java ecosystem will certainly be felt by the development community. According to David Blevins, Founder and CEO of Tomitribe, “This is JavaEE for the next generation. Collectively, you are making the biggest investment in it. And when you are enabled to fuel EE, we can all go faster.” Ian Robinson, Distinguished Engineer at IBM, concurred. “The advantages of having this new community fired up with energy is that it gives the encouragement that the future of the EE is strong.” Robinson did caution that there is a lot of work ahead.
Faster development goes hand in hand with openness
With the newly announced intention of Oracle to start shipping every six months instead of waiting years between releases, developers should begin seeing rapid evolution. According to James Governor, Co-founder and Analyst at Redmonk, this is exactly the kind of shift that will help get more enterprises on board with contributing as well. “We can’t underestimate the importance of this open source move.”
Massive companies like Facebook and Twitter began using Java after outgrowing the capabilities of their earlier code and infrastructure choices. “What these companies found was that, in terms of observability, performance, traceability, and the ability to manage something over time, Java and the JVM had real value.” But they haven’t championed Java in the way that some developer groups did. Until now, “Large web companies have not really gotten involved because Java wasn’t as open as they might expect and wasn’t moving quickly enough.” Now, Java intends to move forward at the rate modern developers desire.
Containers add to the value of open source Java
Cavage recommended Kubernetes as the container of choice for Java users, “It is the right open source building block that abstracts away clouds and infrastructure, giving you this distributed substrate to help you build resilient microservices.” Craig McLuckie, CEO of Heptio, agreed that containerization and open source make a good match. “Open source is critical. It provides the force to drive innovation but also buffers companies from user lock-in.”
Oracle opens the the Fn Project
Chad Arimura, VP of Product Development for the Fn Project, took the stage to describe an exciting three-part offering that is designed to deliver Functions as a Service. The platform, development kit, and flow system promise to provide fast, scalable, container-native functionality with ease of development and orchestration of complex functions. When Mark encouraged Chad to “Open source that Fn project” live on air during the conference keynote, the crowd cheered.
If the open sourcing of Java as a whole turns out as planned, it is well-poised to be the confirmed language of choice in the coming decade and beyond.
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