What questions to get answered at Java One 2010

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It is a very early morning in Redwood City. I am currently in a hotel with a great view on the imposing towers of Oracle’s Head Quarters (although it is dark and only a vague outline of the towers can actally be discerned). The largest Oracle show on the planet, the yearly Oracle Open World conference, is about to commence. This year, the largest Java show on Earth – JavaOne – has been incorporated, so that is about to get going too.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and top development executive Thomas Kurian are scheduled to discuss “Oracle’s vision for strengthened investment and innovation in Java and describe how Java will continue to grow as the most powerful, scalable, secure, and open platform for the global developer community,” according to an official description of their planned talk.

Today, I will be in the Oracle ACE Director product briefing. This is a gathering of the ACE Directors – a fairly select group of experts and community representatives in various areas of Oracle’s product portfolio, including Database, Fusion Middleware, Oracle Applications and various development tools. Product managers and other Oracle staff – including Thomas Kurian, Executive Vice President Product Development – will enlighten this group about upcoming products and releases. Of course, some serious discussion and (sometimes critical) Q&A will take place. The information made available to this group will soon find its way in blogs, articles and presentations by the ACEDs – decorated of course with their personal views, interpretations and comments. Note that some information may be confidential at the present.

Whenever I attend conferences like these, I set out with a number of questions in my mind that I would like to get answered. These questions are almost like a guide through the conference program and sessions like today’s briefing. Below, I list some of the questions I would like to dive into during this OOW & J1 conference, as this will help me plan my next moves and help my customers with their future plans and timelines.

Questions to get answered at JavaOne

Will Oracle be able to get important industry partners to collaborate (again) on Java? What is the position of vendors such as IBM, Redhat JBoss, VMWare Spring Source, SAP and open source communities such as Apache? Will these organizations contribute to Java in the same ways as in the past now that Big Red is in charge. What will Google do in terms of supporting or dividing the momentum of Java. Is the power balance distorted with BEA and Sun Microsystems out of the picture?

Will the Java community regain momentum? Will developers flock to Java and JEE once more? Or are we experiencing the crumbling up of a once mighte empire? JavaOne 2010 will hopefully provide the proof that the demise of Sun does not mean the end of Java – but instead a new and inspired new beginning. For me the most important thing about JavaOne 2010 is that I will feel that community live, vibrant as it used to be, full of enthusiasm, hope and optimism, energy, synergy and initiatives. Sparkling with positive developments, vision and collaboration. Not dominated by stagnation around Java 7 Modularization or focused on some corporate law suit or discourse between JEE and JEE-wannabees (or -wannakills).

How can we achieve synergie between the various languages running on the JVM – including Java, JRuby, Groovy, Scala and others? What will be sensible models for creating software components using an optimal combination of various languages and technologies?

Will the evolution of the Java programming language continue? Will there finally be clarity about several proposed and fairly meaningful additions to the language itself, for example modularization, lambda expressions (or closures) as well as the new Date Time API, better support for multi-core systems, interaction/integration between Java and other (dynamic) languages on the JVM? What are the timelines for Java 7 (and beyond). Note: Java 7 was originally planned for 2009; now it seems unlikely 2010 is a realistic expectation.

How will the various JDKs/JVMs pan out. Oracle has two – Sun HotSpot en (BEA) JRockit. Apache Harmony provides an open source JVM. Several other vendors offer their own JVMs. How will the evolution of the JVMs continue – how will the “open sourcing” of the JVM unfold. What will Oracle do with its two JVMs and how will it allow/enable the community to really leverage the fact that the JVM is (largely?) open now.

How threatening is the dispute between Oracle and Google? Or was the original threat really the way in which Google is using Java for its own ends, not necessarily contributing to the community (process) in a fair, open manner?

Is there a future for the Java plaform on the plethora of mobile devices that is coming our way. Will Apple open up a little and allow some form of Java code to run on its i-devices (pod, pad, phone, box)? Is ME still alive and at least a little kicking and will JavaFX finally find a serious number of mobile phone providers supporting it?

On JavaFX: Larry flirted with JavaFX at the last (Sun sponsored) JavaOne (2009). However, how does that work out? How important is FX really to Oracle? What is their strategy – and how plausible is such a strategy? Will it make sense to really invest in JavaFX as a developer – or are Flex/Flash and Silverlight/.Net already too dominant to ever allow FX its place under the sun (no pun intended). And will HTML 5 make rich graphical rendering redundant to begin with – including Flash and Silverlight?

On HTML 5: where does it stand right now, how much can it do? How are vendors and open source projects leveraging HTML 5. How does it fit with FX? How will HTML 5 influence application development and application architecture – for example the local (offline) storage and handling of media? How will the JEE technologies (Servlet, JSF) embrace HTML 5?

How do we strike the right balance between diversity, healthy competition, collaboration, idea(lism) and innovation in the Java community on the one hand and controversy, ego clashes, power struggles, discord and single minded business focus on the other. How will Oracle act as an independent steward (while it has such vast interests of its own). Will Oracle reinstate or at least reinvigorate the Java Community Process?

Will there be any word on the Java Store – the marketplace for Java applications that was announced by James Gosling on JavaOne 2009.

On James Gosling – after an initially apparent harmonious start at Oracle, he seems to have increasingly sought ways to criticize Oracle. Will he be missed at the conference? Well, maybe not him personally. But it is a little strange for Java to not have visible leadership.

Technicalities

On a more technical note, some topics are bound to be very present during the conference.

The cloud is obviously one of them. Questions around the cloud include whether any standards for cloud interaction arise in the industry, where IAAS and PAAS get any traction (do organizations deploy and develop applications in the cloud?), which vendors provide really open solutions? Where can I best deploy my JEE 6 application on the cloud? Will Oracle continue the Sun Cloud initiative?

How will OSGi (continue to) influence Java/JEE?

How will the evolution of the IDEs continue – especially now that Oracle owns NetBeans and JDeveloper and makes substantial contributions to Eclipse (through various open source projects and the Workshop Eclipse plugin that came with the BEA acquisition, currently shipped as Oracle Enterprise Pack for Eclipse).

The heated debates around NOSQL may spill over into the conference. Interesting to see where Oracle stands on this one – on the one hand a provider of the most important SQL based engine in the world, on the other the owner of potentially a very important component in many NOSQL implementations through its Coherence data grid product.

Will the revolution of REST continue? Last year, REST was all the rage. And an application architecture seemed to be emerging based on rich client side (JavaScript or FX/Flash) components interacting with REST style services provided by server based components – that could be anything from JAX-RS powered servlets to PHP or Ruby components. Is this still a preferred architecture? How will JEE’s JSF compare with REST? And will REST services vie with SOAP for dominance over the web services (for integration and interoperability) space? Will REST be able to stay as light weight as it used to be or will it require a REST equivalent of WS*?

More questions will emerge – and hopefully more answers as well. Stay tuned!

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About Author

Lucas Jellema, active in IT (and with Oracle) since 1994. Oracle ACE Director for Fusion Middleware. Consultant, trainer and instructor on diverse areas including Oracle Database (SQL & PLSQL), Service Oriented Architecture, BPM, ADF, Java in various shapes and forms and many other things. Author of the Oracle Press book: Oracle SOA Suite 11g Handbook. Frequent presenter on conferences such as JavaOne, Oracle OpenWorld, ODTUG Kaleidoscope, Devoxx and OBUG. Presenter for Oracle University Celebrity specials.

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