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A Visual Studio Code Installer for Java seeks to smooth the process for Java developers to use Microsoft's popular Visual Studio Code lightweight code editor.
Setup for Java development in VS Code is a chore for some programmers, particularly newcomers to the platform. The Microsoft installer sets up the development environment, and checks for a Java Development Kit (JDK) in the developer's system. If it's not there, the installer installs AdoptOpenJDK, a free vendor-neutral distribution of OpenJDK created and supported by the open source AdoptOpenJDK project. OpenJDK is a free, open source implementation of the Java Platform, Standard Edition.
The installer also checks to see whether all core Java extensions for Java development and debugging are present and will install them as well, according to Microsoft.
Each language has distinct runtimes that must be installed and configured, said Xiaokai He, Microsoft's senior program manager for Java on VS Code and Azure. Java developers and students told Microsoft that finding and installing a JDK isn't as simple as it could be, with many different JDK distributions and versions available, he said.
Microsoft worked with the AdoptOpenJDK project to build and deliver the Java installer for VS Code. "VS Code is a great IDE and adding great Java support helps developers who are full stack in particular," said Martijn Verburg, co-lead of the London Java Community, co-founder of AdoptOpenJDK and CEO of London-based JClarity.
Microsoft has standardized on AdoptOpenJDK as the primary platform for its work with Java developers, and is a platinum-level sponsor of the AdoptOpenJDK project through 2020.
The VS Code Installer for Java is available for Windows and a macOS version is in the works, Microsoft's He said.
The best of both worlds: Java and web coding for developers
Microsoft's VS Code for Java opens up new collaboration and cross-technology possibilities for development organizations, said Todd Williams, vice president of technology at Genuitec in Flower Mound, Texas. The company's CodeMix product, like the Microsoft installer, eases the use of VS Code for developers who use the Eclipse IDE. VS Code for Java and CodeMix have similar objectives -- to bring the best of Java and web coding to developers.
"While the VS Code UI is awesome for people who want an editor, it is still lacking for users who are more comfortable in a richer IDE," Williams said. "However, both VS Code for Java and CodeMix give users who prefer their respective UX models the best of both communities."
Microsoft's overture to Java developers here brings a bit of deja vu back to the days of J++ lawsuits and clean room Java Virtual Machines, said Jeffrey Hammond, an analyst at Forrester Research. J++ was Microsoft's implementation of Java, but Sun Microsystems -- which owned Java at the time -- sued and Microsoft discontinued J++.
Jeffrey Hammond Analyst, Forrester
"It's nice that licenses and competition have evolved to the point where we can get back to what really counts -- giving developers popular and useful programming languages and pairing them with great tools to make them more productive," Hammond said.
Nevertheless, Microsoft's "embrace and extend" strategy from its monopolistic heyday has not completely gone away, at least with Visual Studio coming to Java.
"This is a key move by Microsoft in the IDE wars, and with Java remaining the most popular programming language out there it's important for the success of Visual Studio," said Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research in San Francisco.
The addition of Java support brings an alternative to C#, he said.
"This is all in line with the direction Microsoft has taken under [Microsoft CEO] Satya Nadella: Microsoft tools, assets and products are no longer tied to platforms, Windows or the Microsoft 'first class' programming languages," Mueller said.