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24 July 2012, 14:17

Oracle abandons Fortress

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Oracle will not pursue any further development of the object-oriented programming language Fortress. The database maker had acquired the research project when it took over Sun in 2010. The announcement was made in a blog post by Guy L. Steele, a member of Oracle's Programming Language Research Group, which has been largely responsible for designing, developing and implementing Fortress. Steele stresses that ten years is a long time for a research project, most of which last for just three years, according to him.

The language, which has a scientific and mathematical focus, was originally sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) from 2004 to 2006, as a possible successor to Fortran in the high performance computing field. In 2006 though, it was dropped from the DARPA HPCS project and in January 2007 was released as an "open-source project with an open-source community".

Version 1.0 of the language specification and compiler arrived in 2008. Its key characteristics were aimed at support for high-end parallel systems and scalability, with even simple data types being provisioned through libraries. The language was designed to run on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) and Steele also noted the language's symmetrical multiple inheritance, atomic blocks with transactional memory support and LaTeX 'typesetting' of code as some of the features "with which we are quite pleased".

Fortress will not be wound down overnight – some work will continue over the next few months. Discussions on what to do with the code base are also ongoing. Steele has reassured users that the language will remain open source and that the source code will remain available for some time. Fortress is licensed under a BSD-style licence. Over the next few months, the Fortress team will also publish the results of its research on the language.


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