First release candidate for JDK 7
In just three weeks, on 28 July, Oracle is expected to release the next version of Java. Mark Reinhold, Chief Architect of the Java Platform Group at Oracle, has published the first Release Candidate of JDK 7 (Java Development Kit). The 13 changes made to the release candidate since the last build are predominantly administrative and did not affect the actual code. Reinhold says the release candidate could be the first and last, provided that no major "showstopper" issues are reported and the Java Community Process (JCP) executive committee gives the go-ahead as expected for JSR 336 (Java Specification Request) in JDK 7.
Although, by the end of July, it will have been more than four and a half years since Java 6 was published, the changes are nonetheless modest. Developers can expect to see more changes in Java 8, scheduled to be released at the end of 2012. Those changes will then include Lambda expressions and Java modularity. For Java 7, Oracle focused on performance, general applicability, integration, and productivity.
Most of the performance improvements come in the form of library extensions, such as JSR 166y (Fork/Join) and the "New I/O APIs" (NIO.2) collected in JSR 203. The category of general applicability mainly includes extensions to the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), such as JSR 292 (Supporting Dynamically Typed Languages on the Java Platform). The changes made for integration are primarily updates of current standards, such as for Unicode and cryptography.