Last week was JavaOne. Perhaps the last one ever – its all up to Larry Ellison, Oracle CEO now, bar the shouting. Whatever decisions Oracle makes with respect to Java, you can rest assured that JavaOne will be a very different event. It certainly will be for us – Sun has been a valued patron of RedMonk and its model over the years, and JavaOne was always a key event in the ongoing conversation.
JavaOne is one of RedMonk’s favourite events. We all like it. Not least because our RedMonk unconference at CommunityOne in 2007 is still fondly remembered by some of the world’s top developers: people like Charles Nutter (JRuby) and David Pollak (Scala LIFT). Why does these guys give us props? Because we were pushing the dynamic language agenda forward at a critical time. Sun has now been a patron of dynamic languages on the JVM over the last few years, and RedMonk helped turn that dial. Sun hired people like Thomas Enebo and Ted Leung (Python) to make sure that the Java Virtual Machine was hot for dynamic languages. Tim Bray was an officially-sanctioned agent provocateur, playing the role of loyal opposition, a grain of sand in the corporate oyster.
Beyond Java The Language
Sun’s moves into dynamic languages were a tacit admission that Java as a language was not the only game in town – which allowed invention to flourish. Netbeans support for dynamic languages was far ahead of Eclipse. Sun’s Glassfish application server was designed in the knowledge Java wasn’t the only language choice for a “java application server”.
Beyond Java The Runtime
Another aspect of Glassfish that has not been much remarked on is that the group behind the code made a very interesting decision. Rather than adopting the Sun and Java Community Process (JCP) sponsored JSR 277 specification for Java class modularity Glassfish went with OSGi. That is, even Sun’s products were “forking Java” by 2008. Instead the newly anointed standard for Java modularity was OSGi. If this all sounds deathly dull its actually pretty important when it comes to Java runtimes. OSGi allows you to build a stackless stack, where modules of Java classes are loaded on demand.
“There is no need to load the entire Java stack to run an application – just the runtime services it actually requires. OSGi therefore enables a more dynamic, less constricted Java.”
The JCP basically lost this war, and now OSGi is supported by every major app server vendor. It is also the key technology used by all of the enterprise service bus (ESB) players.
Beyond the Java IDE
One of the most enthusiastic backers of OSGi has been the Eclipse Foundation, which successfully wrenched control of great swathes of land from Sun in an earlier putsch. IBM led the initial Eclipse uprising in 2001, but without popular support it would have been nothing. Eclipse became how tools integration is done. Implementation beat specification. Now Eclipse is, quite simply, how Java tools are built. Eclipse today though goes far beyond IDEs, and OSGi underpins its runtime ambitions. If you’re a Java person and haven’t heard of Equinox yet… you will.
A Jetty for Web Apps
Talking of Eclipse, something I noticed last week is that Jetty, which recently became an Eclipse project, is popping up in some unexpectedly cool places. Jetty is the new smallness, and therefore the new hotness- the most embeddable app server of the moment. Less cludge means more productivity. Focus on the app not shaving the yak.
GitHub is a popular Software as a Service platform for distributed source code management. It is where the Ruby On Rails community lives. You want find libraries for building web apps? These days Ruby is the first language to check. GitHub is the first place. Last week came the announce of GitHub:FI, a behind the firewall version of the hosted platfrom- it’s based on JRuby running on Jetty. It is also used in the Yahoo Hadoop Cluster.
Meanwhile Java is evidently hot at Google, not something you would have bet on.
Java Syntax Not Dead Shocker
Google’s Android mobile platform SDK- is effectively a forked implementation of the Java 2 Mobile Edition spec. But Google doesn’t call it Java, so apparently it has no legal exposure. Stefano explains:
Android uses the syntax of the Java platform (the Java “language”, if you wish, which is enough to make java programmers feel at home and IDEs to support the editing smoothly) and the java SE class library but not the Java bytecode or the Java virtual machine to execute it on the phone (and, note, Android’s implementation of the Java SE class library is, indeed, Apache Harmony’s!) The trick is that Google doesn’t claim that Android is a Java platform, although it can run some programs written with the Java language and against some derived version of the Java class library.
Google App Engine Java Services – run on Jetty
Google Widget Toolkit – are being ported to Jetty
What all this amounts to is that Google is now a serious player in Java. But its evidently not a big fan of the JCP. Could we see a future lawsuit brought by Oracle against Google? I don’t think its beyond the realms of possibility. What’s old is new again. As has been pointed out, Eric Schmidt, now Google Chairman, was the guy that signed the original Java licensing deal with Microsoft before things went sour… what goes around may come around.
And Then There Were Three
It seems to me the future of Java could be fought out between IBM, Oracle and Google. There are some obvious wildcards- SpringSource has arguably been the most important player in Enterprise Java apis for the last couple of years – the strapline says it all Eliminating Enterprise Java Complexity. IBM, Oracle, BEA all now support the Spring Framework. SpringSource CEO Rod Johnson will definitely have a say in the future of Java. As will Red Hat.
But IBM and Oracle are the leviathans, the companies making serious money from Java. They have the most to lose and the most to gain. While Google- has developer mindshare like noone else right now. The new JavaOne- that’s looking like Google I/O.
Java isn’t dead though, any more than SOA is.
I started this post on a Friday afternoon – always risk for any project. Chances are it will need some cleaning up on Monday morning. But I wanted to give you, dear reader, something to sink your teeth into.
Pretty much every organisation mentioned in this piece except Google is a RedMonk client.