Oracle Brews a Stronger Cup of Java

Oracle this week made a slew of announcements around the programming language and computing platform Java, which it acquired when it purchased Sun Microsystems in 2009.

At the JavaOne conference, Oracle disclosed a road map for Java Standard Edition (SE) on Mac OS X.

The company also announced that it’s working on Java SE 8, which it will release in the summer of 2013.

Oracle stated it will improve the interoperability between Java technology and HTML 5, unveiled the JavaFX 2.0 user interface platform, mentioned its intention to open source JavaFX 2.0, and revealed plans for the evolution of Java Platform Micro Edition (ME).

“I would say that Java is in better strategic shape on several levels,” Al Hilwa, a research director at IDC, told TechNewsWorld.

“The most important aspect is unblocking some of the politics and moving forward with the SE 7 and SE 8,” Hilwa added.

“I think it’s in Oracle’s interest to make their JVM (Java Virtual Machine) work best,” said Karen Padir, vice president, products and marketing at EnterpriseDB, and one of the founding members of the Java EE platform when she was at Sun.

Oracle did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

More on Oracle’s Java Intentions

Oracle’s releasing technology previews of both Java SE 7 and Java FX on Mac OS X. It will release Java SE 7 on Mac OS X for devs in Q2, 2012. A consumer version will be released later next year.

Oracle is continuing its work on a new JVM that integrates the best features of its Java HotSpot JVM and its JRockit JVM. The first version of this converged JVM is in JDK 7.

Java SE 8, which will be available next year, will have several new features.

These include Lambda expressions; a Java-native module system called “Project Jigsaw”; improvements for JavaScript on the JVM that include Nashorn, a new JavaScript engine optimized for the JVM; and JavaFX 3.0.

Lambda expressions will increase developer productivity and better leverage multicore CPUs. Project Jigsaw will simplify the construction, packaging and deployment of applications and enable a fully modular Java platform.

JavaFX 2.0 provides a Web component based on the Webkit engine, which is also used in browsers. This will let devs mix and match native Java capabilities and the capabilities of Web technology.

Further, JavaFX 2.0 introduces FXML, a scriptable XML-based markup language for defining user interfaces, and it allows the use of popular scripting languages supported on the JVM including Groovy and JRuby.

However, “the one negative thing [about the JavaOne announcements] is the delay in SE 8, which has capabilities that enterprise developers have been anticipating for five years,” IDC’s Hilwa said.

On the other hand, “if it means a better plan to converge ME and SE and do that sooner, it’s probably worth the wait,” Hilwa added.

The Effects of Oracle’s Moves

JavaFX 2.0, which Oracle has just introduced, “will allow true Java developers — not those writing in PHP, Ruby or Perl — to get a rich user interface to work with their server side and data-intensive applications,” EnterpriseDB’s Padir told TechNewsWorld.

This is “really an effort to keep Java relevant,” Padir speculated.

JavaFX 2.0 “is being positioned as a set of capabilities accessible to Java developers for doing really high-end graphics,” IDC’s Hilwa said.

This “will attract more developers than the previous approach of constraining these capabilities to a separate scripting language different from Java,” he added.

Improving interoperability between Java and HTML 5 will provide better-looking user interfaces and the ability to abstract the UI from the application, Padir said.

“I think this is part of Oracle’s plan to get Java applications working better in mobile operating systems such as iOS,” Padir added.

Wooing FOSSers

Oracle’s had a stormy relationship with the open source community that culminated in the Apache Software Foundation’s resignation from the Java Community Process executive committee last year.

“Oracle has proclaimed that they don’t have an open source strategy, they have a business strategy into which open source technologies fit,” EnterpriseDB’s Padir stated.

It’s not likely that Apache fits within Oracle’s revenue-based model of success, Padir suggested.

“The success of Oracle in building a community around an open source JavaFX platform is entirely up to Oracle and others that they attract to the project, and, of course, the Apache Software Foundation wishes them luck with their endeavor,” Geir Magnusson Jr., a member of the foundation and vice president of its Java Community Process, told TechNewsWorld.

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