JavaOne 2010 Round-Up: Oracle's Plans for Java SE, JavaFX, Eclipse Sapphire, More

The first JavaOne Conference since Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems may have been stuffed into the Hilton Hotel, a half mile from its usual Moscone Center environs, but it still managed to deliver some useful sessions, worthwhile keynotes and plenty of vendor announcements.

Thomas Kurian, Oracle's EVP of product development, emerged as the official Oracle spokesperson on all things Java at this year's show. Under Oracle, he said during his keynote, Java EE "will continue to evolve," with an emphasis on making application servers more modular and programming more efficient with improvements such as dependency injection and reduced configuration requirements.

Java SE 7 and 8
Java Standard Edition 7 (Java SE 7) will be available in the Summer of 2011, Kurian promised (providing the JCP approves it), and Java SE 8 should be available in 2012. Both will be based on OpenJDK, and they will serve as the basis for the Oracle Java Development Kit (JDK) 7 and JDK 8.

Oracle also wants JKD 7 to include a number of new features, including InvokeDynamic byte code and supporting features for dynamic languages; Fork/Join Framework and related concurrency and collections API enhancements; Small Language Enhancements (most of Project Coin); Session Description Protocol (SDP) and Stream Control Transport Protocol (SCTP) support; new I/O APIs, including a flexible filesystem API, and asynchronous I/O; support for updated standards, including Unicode, localization, security, cryptography, XML and JDBC; and JVM performance improvements.

For JDK 8, Oracle is proposing such features as Lambda expressions ("closures"); Small Language Enhancements (rest of Project Coin); a Java-native module system (Project Jigsaw); and JVM start-up time and ergonomics improvements.

You'll find a complete list of JDK 7 features being developed by Oracle on the OpenJDK page, including features originally planned for JDK 7 but deferred to JDK 8.

JavaFX/JRE Integration
Oracle is also planning a tight integration of JavaFX and the Java Runtime Environment (JRE). The integration will come in stages: the first in summer 2011; the next a year later. Kurian said that the programming model Oracle is going for "combines the power of Java with the ease of JavaFX. He also said that Oracle hopes to "eliminate anything that would prevent native interoperability between Java, JavaScript and HTML5.”

The next release of JavaFX (Q3 of 2011) will introduce a new set of Java APIs designed to open JavaFX capabilities to all Java developers. The new Java APIs will, Oracle says, allow the use of such Java features as generics, annotations and multi-threading. They will make life easier for Web developers who want to use JavaFX with other dynamic scripters (JRuby, Groovy and JavaScript).

Also, Oracle plans to whittle down the number of VMs in its catalog by integrating Sun's Hotspot JVM with the BEA JRockit JVM. The combined JVM will also be based on OpenJDK, and JRockit Mission Control will be available for the Hotspot JVM.

2011 will also see two new releases of the Glassfish open source application server with several new features from WebLogic, and a new version of the NetBeans IDE.

Eclipse Sapphire
Kurian also unveiled "Sapphire," Oracle's proposed new code contribution to Eclipse aimed at helping Eclipse developers design better Java desktop user interfaces.

According to the summary on the Eclipse Proposals page, "Sapphire aims to raise UI writing to a higher level of abstraction. The core premise is that the basic building block of UI should not be a widget (text box, label, button, etc.), but rather a property editor. Unlike a widget, a property editor analyzes metadata associated with a given property, renders the appropriate widgets to edit that property and wires up data binding. Data is synchronized, validation is passed from the model to the UI, content assistance is made available, etc."

"We're focused on two fundamental things with servers and desktops," Kurian said, "to optimize Java for new application models that are emerging and for new classes of hardware. Oracle wants to first, enhance productivity for developers, second, to integrate modularity into the VM, and third, to improve the performance and scalability of Java on multi-core processors and new chip architectures."

Java ME 'Trusted Status'
Java Verified, an IT industry group that promotes testing standards for Java ME applications, announced "Trusted Status" at the show, and issued its first call for Java ME developers to apply to become Java Verified Trusted Status developers. 

Java Verified was started about five years ago as an amalgamation of the application testing programs of Sun and handset manufacturers Nokia, Motorolaand Sony/Ericsson. Membership in the organization has grown since then to include network operators Orange, Vodaphone, AT&T, Digital Chocolate, Intertek, GetJar and Oracle.

The group operates under the auspices of the Unified Testing Initiative (UTI), which was formed to address the larger issue of Java ME fragmentation. The UTI's ultimate goal, explained Martin Wrigley, chair of UTI, head of the Java Verified management board, and director of technology for the Orange Partner Program, is to streamline mobile Java app testing into a single program.

All users of the Java Verified program are eligible to apply for Trusted Status.

Vendor Announcements
Here's just some of the other annoucements made at this year's show:

  • Java/.NET interoperability solutions provider JNBridge made a big announcement at the show. The Boulder, Colo.-based company known for creating tools that connect Java and .NET Framework-based components and apps, launched "Project Lightning," a new initiative the company says will extend Java and .NET interoperability into the cloud. The project aims to enable developers to access both .NET-based and Java-based cloud services from clients and services written with either platform, and to write cloud services incorporating both Java-based and .NET-based components, explained JNBridge CTO Wayne Citrin. The company demoed new software at the conference that showed Java-based clients accessing Azure (.NET-based) services, including support for Azure Cloud Drives, which showed how legacy apps can run in the cloud by simulating access to non-existent legacy facilities, such as the registry and file system.
  • eXo, the French tech company best known for its enterprise portal, released the 3.0 version of its flagship eXo Platform at the show. eXo is an application development platform architected on the new GateIn portal framework, which is a combination of JBoss Portal and eXo Portal. (JBoss and eXo are the two commercial backers.) eXo Platform 3.0 is being billed as the first integrated environment for building modern Java apps with such features as content management, collaboration and social intranet capabilities.
  • A startup called Particle launched the beta of its namesake cross-platform SDK at the show. The Particle Platform, which debuted at the DEMO Fall 2010 conference in Santa Clara, Calif., is designed to automate the porting process, enabling Java jocks to create native app on all smartphone platforms from a single, manageable code base. Devs get to code in familiar programming languages and deliver apps to every platform, the company promises. The company offered up to 500 developers attending the JavaOne event exclusive, free access to the platform.
  • Software production management (SPM) solutions provider Electric Cloud released ElectricCommander Workgroup Edition at the JavaOne event. This is a version of the ElectricCommander build-test-deploy automation system aimed at smaller teams and workgroups. The Workgroup Edition is designed to "free developers from maintaining homegrown, script-based systems, or adjusting their processes to fit open source tools." The vendor claims that the product makes it easier to implement Agile development in a Java environment, because it governs the build-test-deploy process. "The Agile requirement of testing working code at the end of each day doesn't always mesh smoothly with Java's modularity," the company said in a statement. "[The product's] automation and parallelism capabilities mean that build and test tasks are executed as early as possible and output is captured and analyzed in real-time..."

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].