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Top seven Java stories of 2010

Dec 27, 2010 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

We take a look at seven of the biggest stories to impact or raise the interest of the Java community in 2010. The drama started last January with Oracle's acquisition of Sun, continued with Java creator James Gosling leaving Google, and, among other things, concluded this month with Apache quitting the JCP (Java Community Process).

1. Oracle completes its acquisition of Sun Microsystems

Oracle announced the completion of its $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun on January 27, 2010. The move made Oracle a hardware vendor in addition to the rich software heritage the company carries forth.

In a five-hour conference with press and analysts on Jan. 27, Oracle officials laid out the road map for how they planned to integrate Sun's assets into the Oracle fold — saying they wanted to make Oracle "like the IBM of the '60s." Meanwhile, Thomas Kurian, executive vice president of Oracle Product Development, singled out Java as the "crown jewel" of the software assets Oracle attained in its acquisition of Sun.

That move set into motion a series of events that would change the Java landscape.

With Java firmly in its paws, Oracle set out to "monetize" — to use former Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz's favorite term — like it had never been monetized before. And if anybody knows how to make money on software, Oracle does. As the year would unfold, Oracle began to show its colors and mark its territory with Java by filing lawsuits and taking a heavy-handed, albeit not-unfamiliar, stance with the Java Community Process (JCP).

2. Java creator James Gosling leaves Oracle

In April, James Gosling, the father of Java, resigned from Oracle. At the time of his departure, Gosling (right) gave no reason for his resignation, except to say: "As to why I left, it's difficult to answer: Just about anything I could say that would be accurate and honest would do more harm than good."

Mostly, he saw the tide changing. The sentiment was that Oracle was looking to bust Java out.

Later on, a more candid Gosling told eWEEK a little more on his reasons behind leaving Oracle. He basically said he did not want to become the spokesperson for Java with no real input on the direction of the technology.

3. Oracle sues Google over the use of Java in Android

In August, Oracle sued Google for patent and copyright infringement over Google's use of Java in its open-source Android operating system. Oracle accused Google of infringing seven Java patents and other copyrights.

Android includes Java applications running on a Java-based application framework, and core libraries running on Google's Dalvik virtual machine. According to the Oracle complaint, "Google actively distributes Android (including without limitation the Dalvik VM and the Android software development kit) and promotes its use by manufacturers of products and applications." 

Meanwhile, Gosling said he was not surprised to hear word of the lawsuit because during integration meetings between former Sun and Oracle staff, the Oracle lawyers' eyes would "sparkle" at the mention of the patent situation between Sun and Google. Gosling also said the lawsuit was all about ego, money and power. Google vowed to fight the lawsuit.

4. JavaOne 2010 is a bust

Oracle threw its first JavaOne confab in September at the same time as it hosted its annual Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco. OpenWorld, which garners more attention and more attendees, was held in the Moscone Center, while little brother JavaOne was located in the San Francisco Hilton and a couple of surrounding hotels.

Although the content of the conference was not subpar — in fact, many developers said they were very pleased with the content — the logistics were messy. Oracle sought to help with the logistics by painting arrows on San Francisco streets between the Moscone Center and the Hilton and surrounding hotels.

The JavaOne exhibit floor at the Hilton was a miniature version of the one typically found at the Moscone under Sun's sponsorship, leading some Java developers to refer to the event as "JavaHalf" instead of JavaOne.

Speaking on the JavaOne exhibit floor, Sacha Labourey, CEO of CloudBees, told eWEEK, "Oracle has totally disrespected us. This is an insult; a total lack of respect for the Java community."

To be sure, not everyone will agree with this. Many vendors said that despite having a smaller exhibit hall, traffic flow through their booths was generally good.

5. Oracle gets industry heavyweights to sign on to OpenJDK

In October, Oracle announced that IBM would collaborate with the database giant to enable developers to build and innovate based on existing Java investments and the OpenJDK reference implementation. The two leading Java supporting companies announced the collaboration on Oct. 11 in a news conference.

Specifically, the companies will collaborate in the OpenJDK community to develop the leading open-source Java environment, Oracle and IBM officials said. The two companies will make the OpenJDK community the primary location for open source Java SE development. The JCP (Java Community Process) will continue to be the primary standards body for Java specification work and both companies will work to continue to enhance the JCP.

While putting its might behind OpenJDK, IBM also withdrew its support for the Apache Software Foundation's Harmony project to deliver an open-source implementation of Java. That move left Apache and harmony without a powerful ally in its continuing struggle with the JCP over a technology compatibility kit (TCK) for Harmony.

Meanwhile, in November Oracle and Apple announced the OpenJDK project for Mac OS X. The news came as welcome relief to developers who were concerned over Apple's recent statement about deprecating Java. Yet, with the new project Apple will contribute most of the key components, tools and technology required for a Java SE 7 implementation on Mac OS X, including a 32-bit and 64-bit HotSpot-based Java virtual machine, class libraries, a networking stack, and the foundation for a new graphical client.

OpenJDK will make Apple's Java technology available to open source developers so they can access and contribute to the effort. Apple also said Java SE 6 will continue to be available from Apple for Mac OS X Snow Leopard and the upcoming release of Mac OS X Lion. Java SE 7 and future versions of Java for Mac OS X will be available from Oracle.

6. The JCP approves the roadmaps for Java 7 and Java 8

In December, the Executive Committee (EC) of the Java Community Process (JCP) voted to approve the Java Specification Requests (JSRs) for Java 7 (JSR 336) and Java 8 (JSR 337), based on the technical content of the JSRs. The vote paves the way for Java 7 and Java 8 to be standardized over the next two years.

However, based on many of the comments, much of the underlying sentiment amounted to a vote of "no confidence" in the JCP and, by extension, Oracle itself. The votes for both JSRs were 12 for and three against, with Apache, Google and individual member Tim Peierls voting against the specifications.

The vote further alienated Apache. Oracle said the vote proved that the industry is ready to move Java forward.

Oracle said with the JCP approval, the Java standard will progress through the JCP while the open source reference implementation will be delivered through the OpenJDK project. The plan calls for standardization of these technologies in Java SE 7 within 2011, with Java SE 8 following in 2012.

Java SE 7 includes language changes for improved developer productivity, dynamically typed language support, and performance improvements. Java SE 8 includes technologies in support of Java modularization and language enhancements for advanced multicore support.

7. Apache quits the JCP

In December the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) quit the JCP executive committee (EC) as it said it would if certain restrictions were not lifted. As a result of the JCP executive committee vote approving the roadmaps for Java SE 7 and Java SE 8, Apache announced its resignation from the JCP EC.

In a statement, ASF said: "Our representative has informed the JCP's Program Management Office of our resignation, effective immediately. As such, the ASF is removing all official representatives from any and all JSRs. In addition, we will refuse any renewal of our JCP membership and, of course, our EC position."

The battle with first Sun and later (via acquisition) Oracle had waged on for years. And it was time to put up or shut up. When IBM announced that it was backing OpenJDK any prospect that Apache might receive a TCK for Harmony went out the window.

And not only did Apache quit, but so did Tim Peierls and Doug Lea, two former individual members of the JCP — both claiming that the JCP vote was meaningless and that Oracle was going to do whatever it wanted. 

In a blog post, Peierls said he was disappointed in:

Oracle's expressed intent to proceed with the SE7/8 JSRs whatever the outcome of the vote, and one can only conclude that the SE/EE EC is never going to be more than a rubber stamp for Oracle. (The belligerent tone with which this message was delivered does not come across in the public minutes, but it was loud and clear over my phone connection.)

Darryl K. Taft is a writer for eWEEK.

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