Tuesday, 4 October 2011

JavaOne 2011 - Days 1 and 2 (Sunday/Monday)

Hi all,

So I'm at JavaOne and it's been an interesting first couple of days!  I'm live tweeting a number of live announcements and insights but I thought I'd try to round-up my experiences so far on Days 1 and 2.

Apologies for anyone/thing I've missed - it's been a whirlwind! 


My Walk

I started the day with an interesting walk from my apartment to "The Zone".  First thing that struck me was the vast numbers of homeless people on the streets, really sad to see and not what I expected from San Fran at all.  They say that Britain is a broken society, I think I'm seeing worse here in San Fran.

JUG Leaders Brunch

The JUG Leaders and Java Champions brunch was the first thing up on Sunday morning.  It was fantastic to put names to faces (a bunch of us only knew each other from the mailing list) and of course to see familiar friendly faces including Stephen Chin, Bruno Souza, Fabiane Nardon, Kirk Pepperdine, Stephan Janssen and many more! Oracle gave us a briefing on what was going to be announced in the keynotes, one of the focuses being on Java FX 2.0. I'm still personally not sure whether it's going to be 'too little, too late' given the rise of HTML5, but then again I'm not heavily involved in the UI space.

User Group Sunday

The rest of Sunday was spent with the JUG leaders and other community members for a bunch of Open Conference style sessions.  It's always good to discuss the issues that we all commonly face, thanks to John Yeary for organising.

The Duke awards were presented that evening outside in the Mason Street tent/cafe area and LJC's Trisha Gee accepted a Duke innovation award for the Disruptor framework that her company (LMAX) has been working on.  The Zero Turnaround guys also picked up their well deserved award for JRebel.

The evening ended with us meeting up with Charles Nutter and some of the other JRuby crowd at the Glassfish party in the Thirsty Bear, it never hurts to get free beer! Was also nice to see Dan Hardiker and a certain Mr Gosling there.


The Good

1. Oracle's stance and genuine efforts with the community.
  • The Duke awards on Sunday night
  • The free coffee and beer
  • Featuring non Oracle speakers on the JavaOne front page
  • The technical content of the overall program being determined in conjunction with a community committee.
  • Their community interviews
  • And more!
Credit goes to all of the Oracle team behind this including Nichole Scott, Sharat Chandar, Mark Reinhold, Henrik Stahl, Adam Messinger, Mary-Lou, Tori Weildt, Dalibor, Donald and many more!

2. Parts of the Keynote were really good.  Mark Reinhold was very clear explaining Java 7 and 8, the Java FX 2.0 demo with the Kinect controlled Duke went down well and they involved the JRuby guys to explain invokedynamic and what it means for non-Java languages.

3. The Mason Street area and the hangout spaces in the hotels are pretty cool

4. Attendance was way up from last year, real buzz about the place, it's pretty clear that the Java platform is going through an upsurge, exciting to see.

5.  JCP matters again.  We had lots of people turning up to the JCP events, buoyed by the results of JSR-348 (step one in reforming the JCP) with lots of feedback and interactive Q&A.  Even the public EC meeting was packed out!  I was on the panel for a number of these events and was really happy with the amount of interest and feedback, especially considering they're effectively non-technical sessions.

6. Good talks on Lambda (Alex Buckley) and Jigsaw (Mark Reinhold) for Java 8 from experts who actually engaged the audience!

7. The O'Reilly cocktail party, was able to talk shop with fellow authors and catch up with friends from OSCON such as Laurel Ruma, Sarah Novotny and the rest of the O'Reilly crew.

The Indifferent

1. Oracle have tried their best with "The Zone", but the fact remains that running around the 3 hotels is still fairly difficult and trying to find certain rooms inside the hotels also leaves attendees missing out on their events.  I haven't put this into "The Bad" section as the sign posting and extra helpers made it bearable (just).

2. The speakers room was very small and has limited WiFi signal, Oracle, please talk to the OSCON folks on their set-up!

3. Getting my photo taken in an alleyway in the rain for a tech magazine - us developers don't usually make good models, as was proven today!

4. Some of the even rooms are still small and pokey and seem to be stuck in a basement level (Parc55 in particular)

The Bad

1.  The WiFi constantly drops in and out, ruining some presenters demos and causing immense frustration for attendees.  Lessons need to be learned from some of the European conferences such as Devoxx and FOSDEM.  Hoping this improves tomorrow.

2. The Intel part of the keynote.  Caused the entire keynote to be late (they rambled on), was boring (some pretty hokey bar/line graphs) and the its content was better suited to OOW as opposed to JavaOne.

Phew - busy days so far, looking forward to sleep :-)


Thursday, 15 September 2011

My Interview with MyFear

I was humbled to be interviwed as part of MyFear's Java Hero's series - If you want to know some of my motivations then go here

Saturday, 10 September 2011

The OpenJDK as the default Java on Linux

Hi All,  (this post is x-posted to the java7developer blog and the ljc blog)

Recently I've received a bunch of private correspondence from people confused/worried over the change in the default Java packaging for Linux. For many Linux distributions, the official Sun/Oracle version of Java has been packaged up as the default Java for the platform. However, due to a recent licensing change, this will no longer be the case! So, is this a positive or a negative thing for the Java and open source ecosystem? Read on for my take on it :-)


Dalibor Topic announced that With Java SE 7 and JDK 7 being released, and with OpenJDK as the official Java SE 7 reference implementation, that it was finally time to retire the non open source "Operating System Distributor License for Java" (DLJ).

What does it mean for me?

The knock on effect of this is that Linux distributions will on longer package Oracle's Java (== OpenJDK wrapped up in some proprietary bits and pieces) as the default Java. This can/will cause problems for some Java users initially as there are a smattering of bugs (especially in the Swing UI libs) still left in the OpenJDK that affect programs like PCGen. However, some Linux distributions had already taken this path some years ago, most notably Ubuntu and the last remaining bugs are being cleaned up pretty quickly.

Positive or Negative?

Overall, I think this is a positive step in the right direction for free and open Java on Linux platforms. This sentiment was welcomed by well known open source advocate Simon Phipps in a twitter post. The fact the the OpenJDK is now the reference implementation (combined with efforts to open up the issue tracker for the OpenJDK) means that means that a vast host of Java/Linux end users can now directly improve 'official Java' for all of us. 

I want the Oracle version!

Linux users who need to use the proprietary parts of the Oracle JDK 6 or Oracle JDK 7 binaries can of course as usual simply get the gratis download at http://oracle.com/java under the same terms as users on other platforms. However, if it is due to a 'bug' that is discovered I strongly encourage those users to submit a bug report to the OpenJDK project, so that any issues can be fixed for all of us.

Opinions and further questions are welcome!


Thursday, 1 September 2011

JavaOne schedule

Here is my JavaOne schedule:  I can't mimic the nice colouring that Steve On Java has, but hey :-).

Please note the JCP EC meeting is open and free for all to join (Sunday 15:45) - we need the voice of the community there, so come along!

I'll actually be speaking at:

  • 30440 - Java User Groups and the JCP (Sunday 14:30)
  • 23647 - JCP and the Developer Community (Monday 11:00)
  • 23641 - Meet the Executive Committee Candidates (Monday 1900)
  • 23645 - Lightning Talks: JSRs in Progress (Wednesday 0830)
  • 25303 - The Diabolical Developer (Redux)  (Wednesday 1500)
  • 25303 - The Diabolical Developer (Redux) - repeat!  (Wednesday 1630)
  • 37780 - Java Community Keynote (Thursday 0845)

Let me know if you want to catch up!  I'll be fairly flexible about turning up to most sessions, the benefit of attending a conference like JavaOne is as much isn't catching up with friends an colleagues as much as anything else :-)

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

The Data Grid JSR Backlash and why you should support the JCP reforms

The recent backlash against Red Hat's data grid JSR proposal sparked an interest as I know the JCP is going under reform right now.

For those of you who have missed the debates, here's some background reading for you:

So, here are my thoughts on the subject!

Technical merits

On technical merit the JSR proposal certainly seems sound enough to be a solid starting point for discussion (I'm no expert mind you).

Open standards are good

It's a laudable goal to standardise this space, and Red Hat have got 
my support on that front. Just like vendor lock-in was bad for databases and app servers, it's also bad for developers and users of data grids.

This area is potentially worth Billions and so I can understand why some vendors may be reluctant to form an open std 
around it, but really, it's a good thing! I believe the vendors should be competing on performance and other factors, not basic get and put type API calls.

Where the proposal went wrong

Politically, Red Hat went about this in an unusual way, hence the backlash. Sadly, that sort of backlash can be enough to sink a JSR before it even sets sail.

I was a surprised that an organisation with so much JCP experience presented this JSR without the usual pre-collaboration that typically goes on in these cases. So I dug a little deeper to find out why Red Hat had gone about it this way.

The root cause

Without knowing all of the ins and outs, the new data grid JSR was proposed partly because of Red Hat's frustration with trying to get JSR-107 (data caching) back to an active state (it's been an inactive JSR for some time).

A std caching API (JSR-107) would be a natural base for any agreements around standardising any further data grid APIs on top of that.

Red Hat (and others?) had tried to re-vitalise the JSR-107 Expert Group to get 
the JSR re-opened, ratified and released. That would've been a great start, as it meant that there would be collaboration amongst the same vendors that are then needed for a subsequent data grid JSR.

Why did that attempt fail?

We don't really know. Unfortunately nobody on the outside can confirm what was/is going on as the JSR-107 mailing list is closed to the public!

This is the crux of the problem with the existing JCP rules, in that 'open standards' are being decided behind closed doors. Thankfully Patrick Curran is working on changing this (see! Oracle isn't always evil ;p).

So what happens next?

By raising the new JSR, Red Hat has gotten their desired result of getting JSR-107 moving again to complete the caching work. It's a 
shame that they were seemingly forced into this stance.  We'd all much rather see deliberate community collaboration, it's certainly not a model of how we want to see inactive JSRs moving again!

Red Hat's intentions are almost certainly completely honourable, but as some of the other vendor's stated, the raising of the new data grid JSR came across as a great surprise and was therefore not as welcomed as it could have been.

So, JSR-107 will go ahead, but it'll take some amount of bridge mending before data grid JSR gets off the ground.

Lets avoid this in the future and support Patrick Curran's JCP reforms!


Thursday, 3 March 2011

OSGi - Are we there yet?

A few nights ago John Stevenson (@jR0cket) and I were fortunate enough to be taken through a explanation of OSGi by some of its key proponents: Neil Barlett (@njbarlett), Zoe Slattery (@zoe_slattery) and Alasdair Nottingham.

I have certainly battled JAR hell and have also experienced problems with keeping web and enterprise applications isolated from each other (manipulating parent delegation and CLASSPATHs anyone?). This has been throughout my Java career (~10 years now), but I had never investigated OSGi properly as an alternative. Why? Because I never spent the time investigating OSGi properly and I was under the strong impression that it was better suited for IDE, App Server and tooling development as opposed to application development.

So after a good couple of hours of discussion I came out with a greater appreciation for OSGi and the following conclusions.

The Good

OSGi's core principles are pretty sound

OSGi is a sound solution for modularity, it clearly breaks the developer away from the artificial JAR model of 'modularity' and instead gets you to think about what Java packages you are dependent on. Through some simple metadata information in your manifest file you can specify the packages that you are dependent on (including a version range). For example, your test code may rely on the org.junit.core package within JUnit. Normally you would reference the entire JAR, but with OSGi you can reference just the package org.junit.core, as well as the version range that you want (e.g. 4.7.1 to 4.8.2). That package can then be supplied by any bundle (which still uses the JAR construct) which 'exports' it. You can probably already envision that a much smaller bundle can be provided than the default large JUnit JAR file.

OSGi actually encourages you to design better APIs

For those following the various clean code or software craftsmanship movements will appreciate the fact that by utilising OSGi, the developer is actually encouraged to think about splitting their public API into loosely coupled 'bundles'. The analogy here is that of Maven, which although polarises developers, does encourage them to use a correct build life cycle (clean, compile, test, package, environmentalise). good API developers should certainly look at supporting OSGi in order to help them designed better APIs

OSGi is relatively easy to get started with

You can start with an existing application and simply provide the OSGi bundle information in the manifest file for that JAR. You will tend to find that a vast majority of the dependencies already have OSGi bundle versions and it is not difficult to swap to an OSGi based build using Maven or Ant. In fact, as OSGi is already a well established technology it probably pays to have an OSGi bundled version of any project artifacts you produce. The tooling is adequate on most major IDEs (especially Eclipse) although the OSGi community would still like to see improvements in this area.

What the OSGi alliance is working on improving

A common/std tool for deploying OSGi applications to runtime environments

OSGi does have a std API for deployments, but this does mean that developers need to implement a deployment mechanism for deploying their apps to runtime environments. Most modern application servers do have OSGi container support, but the deployment mechanism is arguably different each time. This is an area that the OSGi alliance is working on and hopefully some standard tooling around this standard will come out soon. Although it seems like a small usability gap for OSGi, my guess is that this is a real adoption blocker.

Like Java apps in general, OSGi bundles are not Linux/UNIX distro friendly

A major complaint from Linux and UNIX distros over the years has been the fact that Java is not installed according to their packaging standards. Java is also an relatively large installation, which is the source for further criticism. Whilst OSGi certainly helps with the size aspect of Java-based programs, as it is also a late-binding runtime container it does not lend itself to the static, early binding packaging systems that the distros use.

As John pointed out, the existing Iced Tea (OenJDK) project does already produce bundle data that looks a good deal like OSGi bundle data:

Looking into the meta-data of the openjdk-6-jdk package, you can see there is a lot of scope for using OSGi style information.

Package: openjdk-6-jdk
Priority: extra
Section: devel
Installed-Size: 34100
Maintainer: Ubuntu Developers <ubuntu-devel-discuss@lists.ubuntu.com>
Original-Maintainer: OpenJDK Team <openjdk@lists.launchpad.net>
Architecture: amd64
Source: openjdk-6
Version: 6b20-1.9-0ubuntu1
Provides: java-compiler, java-sdk, java2-sdk, java5-sdk, java6-sdk
Depends: openjdk-6-jre (>= 6b20-1.9-0ubuntu1), libc6 (>= 2.4), libx11-6, zlib1g (>= 1:1.1.4)
Recommends: libxt-dev
Suggests: openjdk-6-demo, openjdk-6-source, visualvm
Conflicts: openjdk-6-jre (<< 6b17~pre3-1), openjdk-6-jre-headless (<< 6b17~pre3-1)
Description: OpenJDK Development Kit (JDK)

However, this does need to be investigated further and perhaps if OSGi and project Jigsaw can interoperate and some tooling is built then I could see bundles being deployed according to distribution standards. This would help Java and OSGi applications gain even more acceptance amongst the Linux/UNIX community. This leas us onto the Jigsaw issue...

The (Potentially) Ugly

Project Jigsaw (Java modularity) is coming as part of JDK 8 and at this stage is not going to work hand-in-hand with OSGi. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that the two will interoperate cleanly in the future and I'm hopeful that the two communities can continue to find common areas despite their fundamentally different approaches.

However, if they do not come together in some simple to use form then it is likely that the Java modularisation space will be fragmented which will only harm the end developer, end user and the Java ecosystem.

You can read more on this topic on a blog post by my co-author for "The Well-Grounded Java Developer" Ben Evans. This post has also been cross posted to the LJC blog.

So are we there yet?

For mainstream adoption by application developers, probably not _yet_. But I think when the tooling gap is closed and as more application developers release OSGi apps, it might just become a de-facto standard for modularity in Java apps. However, there still remains the looming specter of Jigsaw integration/interoperability. There have been signs of the two sides discussing how they can meet in the middle, lets hope that continues.


Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Bit of a hiatus

Hi all,

With "The Well-Grounded Java Developer" deadlines approaching and my arms starting to feel the strain I'll be taking a break from writing any blog posts for a few months.  Not that it's been real busy here anyhow, but I thought you should know :-).