Lamenting the death of JavaOne at Oracle Code One 2018

As Oracle announced this past April, JavaOne 2017 would be the last of its kind.  The Oracle Open World (OOW) conference will now refer to its developer-centric segment as Oracle Code One. The JavaOne branding has disappeared. And since Oracle owns the Java trademark, it’s unlikely anyone will ever get permission to use the name and allow the Java community to put on a JavaOne conference of its own. JavaOne is dead.

The re-branding is a disappointment, but it really isn’t much of a surprise. The way the JavaOne conference was always pushed off to a scattering of unaffiliated hotels a bus ride away from OOW at the Moscone Center was always a great metaphor of Oracle’s desire to distance itself from the Java brand. In 2017, probably the best JavaOne conference since Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems, Java sessions took place in the same building as Oracle Open World, but the attempt at inclusion was too little and too late.

The future of Java and Oracle

Oracle seems pretty intent on washing its hands of its tight links with Java. Quit frankly, I can’t blame them for wanting to do so. The Java community has never trusted Oracle as stewards of the technology, and every move Oracle made with Java was treated with cynicism and skepticism. Protecting their intellectual property by suing Google over Android’s use of their language in what seemed like a never-ending set of legal battles was probably the biggest single example of Oracle making sensible business moves that stirred up resentment and disenchantment in the community. Oracle rightfully won the case on final appeal, but being on the right side of the law left them on the wrong side of the community.

At JavaOne 2017, Oracle made a number of announcements about handing various proprietary components, including Java Flight Recorder, over to the community backed OpenJDK project. They also said they’d be working closely with IBM and Red Hat to move Java EE over to the Eclipse Foundation. All of these actions were well received by the community, although it always felt more like Oracle was simply ridding themselves of a burden, rather than offering up any truly charitable goodwill. Being the stewards of Java has always been more of a curse than a blessing.

A bigger and better JavaOne?

And so here we are, back in San Francisco in October of 2018, as the death of JavaOne begets the birth of the Oracle Code One. It is certainly feels like a step back from former Oracle Vice President of Engineering Mark Cavage’s JavaOne 2017 keynote’s “Java first, Java always” quote, but the new conference still remains the place to be to experience the biggest gathering of developers, thought leaders and Java proponents. The name has changed, but Java remains the primary focus of the developer event.

Oracle asserts that this new conference will be a “new, bigger event that’s inclusive to more languages, technologies and developer communities,” which is actually just a recognition of the direction the JavaOne conference had already been going. So in many ways, it’s the same path forward with just a different name and branding attached to it. So perhaps the name change isn’t all that big of a deal?

The problem is, I liked the old name. I bet there’s a number of JavaOne alumni out there who probably agree.

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