I hate to say it, but the opening ceremonies of this year's JavaOne conference fell a little flat. Not to take away from any of the people who presented, but there just didn't seem to be as much anticipation for what the overlords of the Java platform had in store for all the software developers in attendance.
After all, last year, there was a great deal of enthusiasm for the new feature set that was going to be packing into Java 9. At the same time, there was a lot of excitement about Project Lambda, and the people who were lucky enough to have been playing with function programming semantics were sharing their experiences, frustrations and best practices. Throw in the fact that Java was celebrating its 20th anniversary, and there were plenty of things to cheer about when in attendance at JavaOne 2015.
JavaOne 2016 seems a bit more reserved. Shortly before the conference, it had been announced that the release of Java 9 was being delayed. In and of itself, the Java 9 delay really isn't that significant. It's very unlikely that there is any enterprise software development shop in the world that is holding off on a big software development project because they need to code against a Java 9 Java Development Kit (JDK). So, a small delay on the release date is really no big deal. But that's sort of a problem in itself.
You see, the reason it's so unlikely anybody is waiting with baited breath for the release of Java 9 is largely due to the fact that there's nothing really significant in it. Sure, there are a lot of changes, but many of them are more incremental changes than revolutionary ones. JShell looks pretty amazing, and new features to reduce the verbosity of code are more than welcome, but none of these changes make for particularly big headlines.
Android author and educator Barry Burd agreed there was less cheerleading at JavaOne 2016 than there may have been in previous years. But he asserted, in many ways, that was a testament to the maturity of the Java platform. "After 21 years, the Java platform still holds up," Burd said. "There aren't a lot of new changes, because the Java platform doesn't need a lot of changes."
Furthermore, Burd was quick to point out one of the reasons Java remains so reliable is the fact the gatekeepers of the language are always slow and cautious when it comes to change -- always moving in a way that pairs backward compatibility with future enhancements. "You can pick up a Java programming book I wrote in 2001, and all of the code in that book will still work in 2016, with the exception of one little reference to the java.util.Scanner class," Burd said. It's a testament to the soundness of both the JDK and the Java EE platform as a whole.
JavaOne 2016 is still turning out to be a great conference. The focus on Docker is interesting, especially the talks on container architecture and orchestration tools, like Kubernetes and Swarm. And new approaches to making DevOps transitions successful are extremely popular as well. Of course, all the other parts of the conference that make it worth attending -- from the free beer in Duke's Café to the host of vendors displaying their wares in the exhibitors hall -- are all there for the taking. But in terms of the vibe on what's new with the Java platform, JavaOne 2016 is definitely more subdued than conferences in years past.
The promise of Java 9
Bert Ertman at JavaOne 2016
Java EE and microservices are big in 2016