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Jakarta EE 9 Released

The Eclipse Foundation's Jakarta EE Working Group today announced the release of the Jakarta EE 9 Platform, Web Profile specifications, and related TCKs. The Foundation made the announcement during its JakartaOne Livestream event, currently underway online.

This is the release that moves enterprise Java fully from the javax.* namespace to the jakarta.* namespace. It "provides a new baseline for the evolution and innovation of enterprise Java technologies under an open, vendor-neutral, community-driven process," the Foundation said in a statement. The fact that it doesn't do much more than that is the key virtue of this release, says the Foundation's executive director, Mike Milinkovich.

"It's important to understand that announcing a release in which the only thing we did was change the namespace was very much by design," Milinkovich told me. "When you're taking about a 20-year-old, multibillion-dollar ecosystem, and moving it forward, it's really important that you do it in a way that makes it as easy as possible for the ecosystem to come along with you."

The Foundation's Jakarta Working Group was established in March 2018, so they've been at this for a while. And the group has faced a few headwinds along the way--perhaps most notably Oracle's refusal to give up the javax.* namespace. The plan for a complete change-over from javax.* to the jakarta.* was, of course, controversial. The move even had a nickname: "The Big Bang."

"To be fair to Oracle, it's a two-decades-old platform they acquired from Sun Microsystems that had lots of legal constraints on it," Milinkovich said, "agreements that go back many decades. At the end of the day, I don't think there was any ill will or anything like that [from Oracle], and I even have to acknowledge that the engineering teams that we worked with from Oracle--who have made all this possible--were fantastic. It's unfortunate that we weren't able to just carry the javax.* namespace forward, because that would have been easier for everybody. But it just turned out to be an unsolvable set of constraints."

This namespace change firmly establishes Jakarta EE 9 as a foundation on which cloud-era innovations can be built for future Java infrastructure, the Foundation says. Also, Jakarta EE 9 enables enterprise end users and enterprise software vendors to migrate from older, previous versions to newer cloud-native tools, products, and platforms.

"Just changing the namespace is going to have a big impact," he said. "It allows the vendors who sell application servers--like WebLogic, WebSphere, JBoss, Open Liberty, Payara, etc.--the tooling ecosystem--IntelliJ, JetBrains, Apache NetBeans, our own Eclipse IDE--and the other Java runtimes--Spring Boot, Micronaut, Orcas, and the like--to migrate forward with the least possible disruption. We are now free to innovate in our own namespace."

Approximately 90 percent of the Fortune 500 are running enterprise Java apps in production, the Foundation has said, and the Jakarta EE 9 specifications "give new life to this massive installed base."

The enterprise Java ecosystem is generating more interest from vendors than it has in years, Milinkovich said, which is something of a validation of the Foundation's approach.

"On the vendor side, it had been whittled down to IBM, Red Hat, Payara, Tomitribe, and Fujitsu," he said. "But now, we're getting a lot more vendor engagement, participation, and  support. All good things."

With this release the Eclipse Foundation is also announcing the certification of Eclipse GlassFish 6.0.0, as well as several solutions working on compliance for 2021, including:

● Apusic AAS
● Fujitsu Software Enterprise Platform
● IBM Websphere Liberty
● Jboss Enterprise Application Platform
● Open Liberty
● Payara Platform
● Piranha Micro
● Primeton AppServer
● TMax Jeus
● WildFly

It's worth keeping in mind that specification approval was fresh territory for the Eclipse Foundation, and it had to put together a brand new specification process. Jakarta EE is being developed and maintained under the Jakarta EE Specification Process, which replaces the Java Community Process (JCP) for Java EE.

Accepting the stewardship of enterprise Java and shepherding its successful journey to Jakarta EE is a real feather in the Foundation's cap, Milinkovich said.

"I think a lot of other organizations might have given up along the way," he said, "but the persistence, experience, and intellectual property sophistication we have at the Foundation led us to find a path that got us to where we are."

The Jakarta EE roadmap for 2021 includes at least one more (huge) baby step in Jakarta 9.1: the move of the base platform from Java SE 8 to Java SE 11. Efforts are already under way for that release, though Milinkovich didn't offer a release date.

"I don't know when it's coming, but we're turning the crank as fast as possible," he said.

Moving the base Java platform from Java SE 8 to Java SE 11 is a logical next step in this process. Java eight is still the most widely used version of Java, and Java 11 is next in popularity.

"By moving this Java platform forward we're helping to modernize the Java ecosystem," Milinkovich said.

Posted by John K. Waters on December 8, 2020