Oracle’s Java One Brings News, Surprises

This year’s Java One conference took place in San Francisco from September 30 through October 4. This well-attended event brings together celebrities of the Java world to review the language’s roadmap for the future, learn from each other, and network.

If you couldn’t make it to the event last week, don’t worry; most of the technical sessions and keynotes are available as video on demand online. In fact, I urge you to check those out, as far too much happened for me to capture even all of the highlights. So what should you plan to check out?

Dustin Marx gave an excellent review of the session on mastering Java deployment. This session featured two speakers from Oracle: Mark Howe and Igor Nekrestyanov. In particular, you’ll want to catch their discussion of “feature deprecation.” The idea behind this is to deprecate older, redundant approaches to doing the same thing. From a programmer’s perspective, it may be annoying to learn something new when you’re used to doing it a particular way – but from the perspective of those who must maintain the language, it means “they don’t have to spend as much time supporting and fixing bugs on these seldom used things,” Marx noted, thus giving them more time for improving the language.

This talk included a table of features that will be deprecated and removed in JDK 7, JDK 8, and JDK 9. If you’re Mac-friendly, you’ll definitely want to pay attention to the news of the upcoming Oracle-supported JRE for Mac OS X. Unfortunately, it doesn’t support Chrome on Mac.

One big surprise at Java One this year: James Gosling, the founder of Java, actually showed up. Gosling hasn’t appeared at a Java One conference since 2009. When Oracle bought Sun in 2010, the company in a sense also acquired Java, the community-based language that Gosling started. Gosling and Oracle parted ways not long afterward, and Gosling has spoken unfavorably of Oracle’s approach to Java since leaving.

So did his appearance at the event symbolize a mending of fences between Gosling and Oracle? Perhaps. Gosling now works for Liquid Robotics; in his brief appearance on stage during a keynote presentation, he talked about the ways in  which his company is using Java in its ocean-probing devices. “One of the coll things about Java that most people don’t really think about is it’s really good at doing AI (artificial intelligence) kinds of things,” he observed. During his presentation, he never once mentioned Oracle.

So where is Java going now? Look to Project Sumatra for some clues. Oracle’s Hasan Rizvi and AMD’s Phil Rogers discussed it in one of the keynotes. According to Dr. Dobb’s, “Project Sumatra will explore how Java can be extended to support heterogeneous computing models for improved performance and power consumption. The primary goal of the project is to enable Java applications to take advantage of graphics processing units (GPUs) and accelerated processing units (APUs) – whether they are discrete devices or integrated with a CPU.” Meanwhile, Java SE 8 is expected to be available in late 2013, and Oracle plans to propose a new JavaScript engine for the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) to the OpenJDK Community.  

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