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05 October 2011, 11:37

Java 8 delayed, but only a little

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During his keynote on Oracle's Java strategy at the JavaOne conference, the Vice President of Development for the Fusion middleware, Adam Messinger, had to announce that the release date of Java 8 has been postponed. Instead of late 2012, the new version is now only likely to be released six months later, in summer 2013. Around nine million Java developers, as counted by Oracle, had to wait more than four-and-a-half years for Java 7, which was released this summer after repeated delays. To make up for the postponed release date, Oracle's Java developers plan to use the extra time to extend the feature set.

The previously discussed Jigsaw and Lambda projects appear to be on their list, as is the interoperability with JavaScript and a new JavaScript implementation for the JVM, Nashorn. Oracle will receive support from the operators of the Twitter micro-blogging service, who have announced that they will join the OpenJDK and the Java Community Process (JCP). Rob Benson, Twitter's Director of Runtime Systems, said that Java is very important to his company's service.

The same is probably true for JavaFX at Oracle. Messinger said that, in the long term, the RIA (Rich Internet Application) technology is to become the strategic Java client platform, even for mobile consumer devices. To support this aim, JavaFX 2.0, which was introduced at the conference, will become fully available as open source software, a process which will start with the visual components. An interesting element of the keynote was a JavaFX game that was working on an iPad and a Samsung Galaxy tablet, an Android device which, at its heart, is a Linux device. JavaFX 2.0 has so far only been completed for Windows; the OS X version is currently in beta state.

In terms of the Java Mobile Edition (Java ME), Oracle's strategy seems to be to phase it out, slowly but surely. Oracle presents this as a plan to "align" Java ME and Java SE. As a first step, the vendor said that it will synchronise the version numbers, which means that the forthcoming release will be called Java ME 7. As a second step, it will probably become Embedded Java SE 8, a kind of subset of Java SE.

Ultimately, Oracle is pursuing a multi-track approach, because the newly presented Project Avatar will allow developers to create hybrid applications for mobile devices with Java and HTML5. Messinger said that this involves integrating HTML5 with Java and giving Java code can direct access to, and ability to manipulate, the HTML DOM (Domain Object Model). The system is even said to work on the iPhone if the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) is embedded in the application, which, according to Messinger, is not against the terms and conditions of Apple's AppStore.

What's left is the Java Enterprise Edition (Java EE); according to Cameron Purdy, Oracle's Vice President for Java EE, servers, etc., the Enterprise Java platform is to become the medium term standard in the Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) arena. In Purdy's opinion, the "Freedom of Choice" slogan is slowly, but surely, beginning to make sense again. Purdy said that, to be cloud compatible, Java EE will support such features as multi-tenancy and elasticity (horizontal scaling).

To round things off, an official developer preview of the JDK 1.7 for Mac OS X has now been completed. The official release is to become available to developers in the second quarter of 2012, and to end users slightly afterwards. A first beta of Oracle's NetBeans 7.1 open source IDE has also been released. Changes in the new version are particularly relevant to the development of applications with JavaFX 2.0.

(Lars Röwekamp / djwm)

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