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JavaOne 2012 Opening Night: Enterprise Java on Rise, Slew of New Releases, More

The annual JavaOne conference started early this year, staging its strategy, partner, and technical keynotes together on Sunday evening at the Mason Auditorium on San Francisco's Nob Hill. (The conference proper is being held at the nearby Hilton Hotel in Union Square through Thursday). The speakers offered a crowded auditorium updates and announcements on a range of Java technologies, from JavaFX to new Java ME-based offerings for embedded systems.

Hassan Risvi, SVP of Oracle's Fusion Middleware group, kicked off the show and introduced the conference theme: "Make the Future Java." He shared the annual Java Scorecard for 2012, which, among other things, indicated that adoption of the NetBeans IDE has been growing over the past three years. Risvi also underscored a new focus at this year's show on embedded Java. saying that he expects Java ME to become the lingua franca of the embedded world

Georges Saab, Oracle's vice president of development and chair of the OpenJDK, told attendees that there has been "a big uptake" of Java SE 7 in the enterprise. He added that JDK 7 had made Java available on more new platforms in the past year than in the previous 10. He also announced that Project Nashorn is being contributed to the OpenJDK. Nashorn is a JavaScript implementation designed to take advantage of InvokeDynamic for high performance with high interoperability with Java and the JVM. IBM, RedHat, and Twitter are planning to support Nashorn in OpenJDK, he said. Saab also called on the community to participate in the development of JDK 8 as "test pilots."

Dierk Konig of Canoo Engineering, a provider of Java-based business applications, (RIAs, linguistic morphology, and word analysis systems), joined Saab onstage to announce that his company is open sourcing its Dolphin remoting solution. Dolphin "bridges the world of enterprise and desktop Java," the company says on its website. The "Open-Dolphin" project is being licensed with an Apache 2 license, and hosted on GitHub.

AMD corporate fellow Phil Rogers took the stage to, among other things, announce Project Sumatra, a joint effort by his company and Oracle to build native support for Java in programs using Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) to improve performance. The project is a reaction, he said, to the evolution from multi-core CPUs to CPU+GPU combinations that use "a single piece of silicon and shared memory."

Nandini Ramani, Oracle vice president of engineering, Java client, and mobile platforms, updated attendees on JavaFX, which is now available on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. It's also fully integrated into Oracle's Java SE 7 implementation, she said. Ramani also announced that Oracle is releasing a JavaFX developer preview for the Linux ARM distro, which is available for immediate download. The preview, she emphasized, is intended for use with ARM-based devices together with Oracle's Java SE port for ARM. Oracle is also offering a developer preview of JavaFX Scene Builder 1.1, also available now.

Ramani was joined onstage by a representative from the Royal Canadian Mint to demonstrate an implementation of Java Card, a Java platform for smart cards and tiny devices. She characterized Java Card as the "most widely deployed and least known" Java technology. The Canadian Mint is using Java Card as the basis for its new MintChip digital currency.

Ramani also talked about two new releases that mark a major move into the mobile-and-embedded systems space: Java ME Embedded 3.2, a client runtime optimized for microcontrollers, and Java Embedded Suite 7.0, collection of services for developing apps for embedded systems in a range of devices, from home gateways and routers to healthcare devices. The two releases acknowledge that "the Internet of things" is the next IT revolution, she said.

Oracle vice president of development, Cameron Purdy, took on the Java EE portion of the strategy keynote. The evolution of enterprise Java will continue to be in the direction of modularity, he said, with the next planned release of Java EE 7 targeted for Q2 2013. The earliest release of the Java EE 7 SDK is now available via the GlassFish versions, he said. Version 4 of the open source GlassFish application server includes significant HTML 5 enhancements, he added, many of which were announced at JavaOne 2011.

Purdy made the case for Java EE's continuing popularity, citing increased developer adoption numbers (more than 50 million downloads of Java EE components) and the fact that 14 Java EE 6-compliant app server implementations are currently available from other vendors.

Purdy also noted that there are currently four new Java Specification Requests (JSRs) and ten updated JSRs in the works for Java EE 7. Among the planned enhancements Purdy discussed were new features designed to ease the building of scalable HTML5 apps, including support for non-blocking (event-driven) I/O Servlet 3.1 API, JCache, JSON-P, WebSockets, JAX-RS 2.0 Client API, JPA schema generation, and a better security configuration aimed at the cloud.

Also look for updates to the 2.0 version of Java Message Service (JMS), which Purdy said will provide improved usability through annotation and CDI support and the JMS provider API for implementation portability.

Purdy was joined onstage by Nike's Nicole Otto, who showed a video promoting her company's Java EE-based FuelBand activity tracking device. The device is worn on the wrist and tracks sports activities and everyday actions, and then sync that data to a "motivational web and mobile experience."

The Java EE portion of the keynote also included a presentation by oceanography Robert Ballard, best known for his discovery of the wreckage of the Titanic. Ballard talked about using Java EE in his research technology, and made a compelling pitch to encourage young people to get into science and engineering in an "era of personality" by "selling the scientist, not the science."

The partners keynote was presented by IBM distinguished engineer and chief architect Jason McGee and IBM's Java CTO John Duimovich. McGee focused on "cloud challenges," and talked about the need to use patterns to describe cloud-based systems and "help us to deal with the diversity that has emerged in the application space." IBM's Liberty Profile, for example, is a lightweight WebSphere Application Server runtime for the cloud available on developerWorks. He emphasized the value of exploiting the evolution of hardware via "expert integrated systems of hardware and Java."

Duimovich talked about hardware during his presentation, including IBM's System z, and took up the pitch for the advantages of running Java on that system. He also took a moment to describe the relationship between Big Blue and Oracle: The two companies work together on Java, he said, "but compete head-to-head.

Mark Reinhold, the chief architect of Oracle's Java Platform group, led the technical keynote. This year's presentation was built around a single example application: a schedule builder populated with presentation and speaker data from this year's JavaOne conference. JavaFX team members Richard Bair, chief architect in Oracle's Client Java Platform group, and Jasper Potts, developer experience architect in Oracle's Client Java group, demoed the example app.

At one point, Brian Goetz, a Java language architect at Oracle, joined them onstage to explain the OpenJDK Project Lambda (JSR 335), which aims to support programming in multicore environments by adding closures (aka Lambda Expressions) and related features to the Java language. The project will help developers by giving them "better parallel libraries," he said.

During his presentation, Reinhold addressed Oracle's decision (first suggested by him in a blog post) to push Project Jigsaw back from Java 8 to Java 9, which is due in 2015. He used a "spaghetti" diagram to illustrate the complexities of implementing a standard module system for the Java SE Platform.

Oracle's Java EE technology evangelist Arun Gupta wrapped up the technical keynote, during which he introduced Project Easel, which enables NetBeans developers to create and manage client-side HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript applications. NetBeans 7.3 is expected later this week; the new version will include support for HTML5 as a new project type. He also discussed Project Avatar, development strategy that aims to help developers create hybrid applications for mobile devices with Java and HTML5. The project was unveiled at last year's JavaOne. 

JavaOne 2012 runs through Thursday.

Posted by John K. Waters on October 1, 2012