JavaOne: Expectations From Java Today, Hopes For Java Tomorrow

JavaOne 2010 kicks off in a few hours, on the backdrop of the many changes that Java has seen in recent years. Oracle bought Sun, Significant Drop in Java’s Cool Quotient, Drop in Buzz Around Java Technologies, Perceived stagnation, Emergence & Phenomenal Growth Of Android, Google Lawsuit… Considering all these factors, Java today seems well and truly at a crossroad. While some have started writing epitaphs for Java, calling it the new COBOL; there are others confident of a Java resurgence.

Considering these factors, JavaOne 2010 is of paramount importance. The event this year is happening alongside Oracle OpenWorld and hence has had to move out of Moscone Center to banquet halls in the Hotel Nikko, Hilton San Francisco, and Parc 55 hotels. These hotels are adjacent to each other and Oracle & San Francisco city have been smart to close down the road in between and put a tent over it. Would not only make it possible to safely & quickly move between hotels but also ensures that it doesn’t seem like three separate events in 3 hotels but one big event.

Coming back to Java. Looking at recent blogs & discussions on forums, it would seem that the Java community consists of two categories of people 1) strongly opinionated &  2) fanatics. So I am sure each participant at JavaOne will have high expectations and opinions on exactly what should happen at JavaOne 2010. Will JavaOne rise to their expectations & deliver?

Below is what I am looking forward to and the questions that I hope will be answered & the new tech that I hope will be revealed.

Stop the speculation machine: I think this is very important as of late rumour mongers have had field day and Oracle hasn’t been able to convey its side of the story effectively. I expect the keynotes to reveal Oracle’s plan for Java in simple, clear & concise terms. If a vast majority of the blogs that come out of JavaOne are optimistic about the future of Java, that message will get through to the millions of Java developers worldwide. While I guess this isn’t ideal, the fact is that a few hundred odd influential journalists & bloggers can help drastically change the perception of Java. Opinion by influential voices gets rehashed & repeated through 1000s of blogs & tweets worldwide. A majority of the talk around Java lately can be categorized as gossip triggered by boredom & due to the absence of any real exciting news.

Oracle’s Approach: Will Oracle approach Java as another of its owned products/technologies or something special and different? This is important as the Java community always looked at Sun as the driver of Java but never as its master. This relationship with Sun was partly the reason why the Java community thrived. So I am sure most delegates would be looking for signs to see if Oracle wants to continue being the driver or wants to be the master. Will Oracle do it’s own thing or want to take the community along?

Language Changes : IMHO, few developers care about new language syntax, structures, constructs…  Partly cause it is human nature to not want change. Also with almost all developers using powerful IDEs, having to write too much code, isn’t something many are worried about. However the people who absolutely want these things to make it to Java are usually the influencers in the community. Also for a language to survive and thrive, it is important to rattle the cage every once in a while. So I believe the Java language should continue to be tweaked & ‘enhanced’ . It is to be seen what Oracle has to say about changes to the language.

APIs & Features: While I doubt that the language changes are widely sought for, I do believe that almost all developers want enhancements to APIs, newer simpler libraries & a steady stream of cool & innovative new features that will make their jobs easier & more fun. Recently I heard someone say “Only when I tried it with Java did I realize that REST can be made so complex” While I do not wish to get into the validity of the statement, the point it that if the APIs – libraries are constantly moving & being enhanced, it stops people from hammering the language & actually trying it out.

Rich Internet Apps with Java: Sun tried again & again and again to make Java on the client side work, unfortunately none of their attempts worked. So we are still waiting for a great Java solution for RIA. JavaFX was Sun’s last attempt at it, but that never gained any traction. Many have said that JavaFX will die a slow death at the hands of Oracle, however if Oracle kills JavaFX, which RIA tech does it have? It is certainly of keen interest to me to see the direction of RIA for Java. The hype around HTML5 is also slowly but surely building up, and there are many who are looking at it as that one great solution for RIA across devices that we have all been waiting for. So Oracle’s take on HTML5 is also something to watch out for.

Java Mobile: Mobile phones & Smart phones have come a long way in the last few years and looking at the power packed newer devices it almost seems unfair to call them a phone and not a computer. Except on the iPhone (which seems to operate in a parallel universe), IMHO Java today is better placed to deliver mobile solutions than any other technology out there. I believe there’s immense potential and I hope to see developments at JavaOne that would ensure that Java Mobile moves rapidly.

Enterprise Java (JavaEE): Good old JavaEE has earned a lot of us our bread & butter for a long while but unfortunately that space also seems to have been in a deep freeze for sometime. JavaEE continues to have grass root support with 1000s of JavaEE trained coming out of colleges. Also it is true that JavaEE 6 was released only late last year. However the fact is that none of the recent JavaEE tech has captured the imagination of developers or is being looked at as a drastic change / feature. I expect JavaOne 2010 to infuse new life into JavaEE.

IBM: Sun, Oracle, Google & IBM were the four primary drivers of Java for a long while. The first two have merged, Google & Oracle dont seem to get along, but what’s happening with IBM? It seems to have been surprisingly silent on Java (is it me not listening?). Google dropped out of JavaOne after Oracle’s lawsuit over Android, however I am keen to know what IBM’s doing and what it’s take on the future of  Java is.

Android: Google’s absence from JavaOne sure is bad news. Google has always had a very good strike rate as regards introducing new tech, making it popular and then nurturing it. So Google has this ‘good guy’ image that almost no other company enjoys. Also Android today enjoys tremendous traction, I haven’t seen anything like the pickup Android has with any other technology in recent times. So there certainly are a lot of Java developers looking to jump onto the Android bandwagon. The recent Oracle lawsuit however has placed a big question mark between these developers and Android. While Oracle & maybe even Google announce anything during JavaOne time that will take care of the question mark?

I am sure there are other points & expectations that I have of JavaOne but I cant think of any right now. With Larry Ellison’s opening keynote only a couple of hours away, it’s better I publish this piece in time. Will keep updating & adding new articles & comments from JavaOne 2010.

Harshad Oak

Harshad Oak is the founder of Rightrix Solutions & IndicThreads. He is the author of 3 books and several articles on Java technology. For his contributions to technology and the community, he has been recognized as an Oracle ACE Director and a Sun Java Champion. Contact - harshad aT rightrix doT com & @HarshadOak

5 thoughts on “JavaOne: Expectations From Java Today, Hopes For Java Tomorrow

  • September 22, 2010 at 1:25 am

    Rich Internet Apps with Java = JRapid.
    Fortunately JRapid has a stand in JavaOne 2010 !

  • September 20, 2010 at 12:47 am

    I suppose many wont agree with my language changes comment, but I do believe from my interactions that a small % of developers are desperate for language changes. Most are happy to welcome language changes, but few think they are a must have.

  • September 20, 2010 at 12:28 am

    you lost me after “Language Changes”. Few developers care about language changes! RIGHT. The verbosity of the java language is one of reasons why it’s in such rapid decline. New api’s will help but the root of the problem has to be addressed. Do you think if they give us “strings in switch” we’ll be productive again? While I agree with some of the things you say, you really missed the mark on the “language changes”.

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