Monday, 1 November 2010

Java is dead, long live the Java developer!

Hi all,

Well, what a few months it has been in the Java space!  It started with Oracle announcing that the best plan to move the Java language forward was to split the existing openJDK work into Java 7 (for summer 2011), followed by a Java 8 (for summer 2012?).  You can see the current feature list for JDK7 at  Now that a decision has been made I think we'll see some good progress on this front.

This of course threw our plans for the book into a bit of a spin and so Ben Evans and I are now writing "The Well-Grounded Java Developer (covers Java 7)", a subtle yet important shift in the emphasis for the book.  This has caused some material to be thrown out (bye bye Date and Time, Closures and more) and other bits to be re-written.  If you're interested in the book or what is going on with Java 7, then head on over to for more details!

But that of course was not all!

The Oracle vs Google lawsuit continues to gather pace with Google counter suing Oracle.  No quick resolution here then.  It's watch this space for everyone at the moment, but it seems that at this stage the lawyers are going to be kept rather (happily one suspects) busy.  You can keep an eye on this over at groklaw

Oracle also announced a partnership with IBM in terms of developing the openJDK, a bit of a coup for Oracle, but understandably there was some backlash as the Java community as a whole realised that the formerly IBM backed Apache Harmony and all it stood for (a truly open Java) was effectively doomed.  This has been well covered in the blogosphere, so I'll leave it at that (repeat after me "pragmatic").

Then came some JCP nomination and election hooha!  Some prominent people have sadly left (Doug Lea foremost amongst them) and there are also accusations flying about the JCP election process being gamed somewhat.

Last but not least, Apple stated that they would no longer be providing their own version of Java for Mac OS 10.7 and beyond.  Given the work that it takes to 'macify' the Java experience this may prove to be an issue for Oracle to give the same user experience with Java on the Mac.  We'll hopefully see lots of job postings for this role as I personally love developing on my Macbook Pro :).

Are we there yet?

All in all this has of course led to many pundits claiming that Java is dying if not dead already.  I disagree with that assessment, but with a bit of a twist.

On the enterprise side of things I think that Java will continue to have a strong presence, especially now that the JVM ecosystem has matured and allowed languages such as Clojure, Scala and Groovy to flourish.  This is one of the cruxes that "The Well-Grounded Java 7 Developer" falls on.

On the desktop I think that JavaFX 2.0 may have come too late to the party and certainly Swing is looking very aged as a relevant desktop client library.

Mobile?  This is probably the big one for the future, we'll have to wait and see what the Google and Oracle lawsuit brings out. Android is 'Java based' and has moved well ahead in terms of mind share (if not devices) over J2ME. If it at least remains 'Java based', then the Java language will continue to do well in this space, especially when all the new young developers continue to build software for the Android.  If not, we may see a move towards Java (& JVM langauges) being seen purely as a specialised server side language.

Java's not dead - it's just got new plumage and there's _plenty_ of excitement for the 'Java' developer :)


  1. Nice post! I agree that the Oracle and Google lawsuit has really mucked things up for Harmony, but now that Apple and IBM have thrown their collective weight behind OpenJDK, it leaves Project Harmony in an even more precarious position.

    Interesting times indeed!

  2. Thanks Steven. I've posted again with the latest news. Enjoy!

  3. Java is officially in the wrong hands, lets hope Google take it on. Otherwise the academic institutions will stop producing the huge numbers of Java programmers we see today, the big corporates will slowly but surely see that there are much better alternatives to Java and the myriad of Java add-ons will (rightfully so in many cases) never see wide adoption.

  4. Just for the record, I don't think there's any reason Java couldn't have a great future as a desktop client. Here is a beautiful Swing app to show it's potential:

    JavaFX is nice, but it falls apart when you try to do anything complex, so I don't pin my hopes on that.

  5. I strongly agree with everything that has been said, but one thing I can't understand is the progress on the desktop bit. Java has such a strong community I'm confident they can come up with something that is out of this world!

    -Java Amateur

  6. I think Java is not dead because it is one of the secure languages. Basically, it use for gaming, web application and database development.