James Gosling, the “father of Java”, is the hero, the star, the god of many Java conferences such as JavaOne. I have seen the adoration and worship, as recently as four months ago at JavaOne 2009. Yesterday I witnessed a performance by James Gosling in a very different setting. At Oracle Open World (at least three times the size of JavaOne) he is seen by many as ‘just an interesting looking gray haired fellow in a T-Shirt and jeans’.
They are somewhat surprised that Ted Farrell, chief architect of Oracle middleware development technology, makes way for this old geezer. And some even leave the room – how interesting can his story be. After the session, I run into James on the escalators, wearing his jeans, T-Shirt and bagpack with laptop – just like 1000s of other attendants on this conference. Of course he is still recognized by many, but he is slightly out of the universe that revolves around him in a setting that has yet to get to know him and appreciate him. I can imagine that must be tough. Or a nice challenge, see how to win this audience over too. One way of doing that is of course by throwing gadgets into the audience – a favorite stunt of his – and he donated a few dozen Dukes this time.
Anyway, he did a good job of explaining to this developer audience what Sun was doing, what the scale is of Java activity around the world and across technology platforms. He fondly plugged NetBeans – standing next to guy who is responsible for Oracle JDeveloper as well as the extensive range of Oracle tooling for Eclipse – indicating how it has specializations in many different areas, JEE and also the other languages that run on the JVM. He stated that magic of Java is not in the programming language as such, but is in he JVM. In saying so he seemed to warmly embrace languages such as Ruby/Rails, Groovy/Grails, Scala, Pyhton, PHP and others that can run on the JVM- and integrate together in the JVM. Gosling at this point also plugged Kenai – a cloud based developer environment, a much advanced version of SourceForge.
Gosling stressed the important of the web as the ‘faces of the enterprise’ – in an era where interactions between consumers and business increasingly occur over the internet rather than through local branches. He then put the spotlight on Java FX, as a means for scripting for the UI. Especially when ‘every pixel needs to be used for branding’. He demonstrated JavaFX by using a presentation ‘program’ written in JavaFX with some nice graphical features – especially the live inzooming on some of the graphics was quite amazing. The presenter also had a timer feature:
Two indicators: the filled one indicating the target time-stamp for the current slide, the open one specifying the actual position. As long as the open one is in front of the closed one, you are on time as a presenter – and the target marker is green. As soon as you are running behind schedule – the open marker is behind the target one – the target marker turn red. It was very intuitive. And clearly demonstrated the topics Gosling was too enthousiastic about to stick to even his own time schedule.
Another highlight in his presentation: OpenSolaris and especially the file system ZFS – for File System Magic. He also made it very clear that Java is top of the bill in terms of performance. With HotSpot Java, C and C++ are outperformed every time and he quoted French research that showed Java even surpassing Fortran on many occasions. Java Real Time is a serious option for controlling real time, critical devices.
As challenges/opportunites for the future, he discussed the rise of multi-cores as a very important development. Processing power is something like clockrate times number of cores. The clockrate is no longer increasing – physical boundaries prevent that from happening – and the increase in CPU power is now purely in the number of cores. In all likelihood, large numbers of cores are going to be commodity hardware in a few years or decades. However, the software needs to be adapted. Java’s multithreading model is already well geared for that type of hardware.
See that T-Shirt he is wearing:
Some groupies – even at Oracle Open World: