Python Popularity Surging Because AI/ML Engineers Need It

The Python programming language has been topping virtually every tech trend list for the past two years, so it was no surprise to see it earn another "most popular" ranking in O'Reilly's annual analysis of the most-used topics and the top search terms from its online learning platform. But the reason for Python's latest blue ribbon is worth noting: according to O'Reilly, it was demand among data scientists and artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) engineers.

Python is the go-to language for AI, ML and natural language programming (NLP) development, thanks in no small part to the dozen or so libraries and development tools that support it, from TensorFlow to Pytorch. And simple syntax and readability promote rapid testing of complex algorithms, and make the language accessible to non-programmers. More

Posted by John K. Waters on 02/20/2020 at 11:38 AM0 comments

Eclipse Partners with IOTA on Open Source Distributed Ledger Tech

The Eclipse Foundation has made some baller moves in the last few years -- its commitment to an annual simultaneous release of multiple open-source projects and taking on the responsibility for the evolution of enterprise Java, to name two. This week it entered into a partnership to support another foundation's open-source technology.

Working with the IOTA Foundation, Eclipse launched the Tangle EE Working Group to provide a governed environment for contributions to IOTA's open source distributed ledger technology (DLT). More

Posted by John K. Waters on 02/12/2020 at 2:16 PM0 comments

IBM Dev Creates AI-Driven App To Automate Image Labeling

I was reminded today that developers are action-oriented -- at least when it comes to problems that can be solved with software. IBM developer advocate Nicholas Bourdakos knew his colleagues were spending hours manually labeling thousands of images for their machine learning models, and he railed against this injustice to the heavens, "This shall not stand!"

Okay, he probably didn't do that. (I like to think all developers do it in their hearts.) In fact, when I talked with him on a video call today, he was the definition of "chill." More

Posted by John K. Waters on 01/30/2020 at 11:01 AM0 comments

Java in 2020, Part 2: Anne Thomas on Java Subscription, Jakarta and MicroProfile

  • MORE ON THIS TOPIC: Java in 2020, Part 1: What To Expect According to the Experts
  • Talking with Gartner VP and distinguished analyst Anne Thomas about Java at the start of a new year is becoming a habit. (Let's call it a tradition.) Thomas is a longtime industry watcher with deep industry knowledge, she understands the tech and she doesn't mind stirring the pot, so to speak, if that's what her observations demand.  

    We started with Oracle's Java SE subscription service, which Big Red launched in June 2018. As virtually all Java users know, starting in January 2019, public updates for Java SE 8 were no longer available for business, commercial or production use without a commercial license. I heard mostly upbeat reports when I asked about how Oracle's customers were adapting to the new model in earlier what's-next-in-2020 interviews. The reactions Thomas tracked last year were mixed.

    "For the companies that purchased the commercial versions of Java -- Java SE Advanced and Java SE Suite -- it gave them a nice reduction in cost," she said. "But the vast majority of organizations did not purchase those commercial licenses, and they've been using Java for free for the last decade-and-a-half. Those folks all of a sudden have these bills -- sometimes enormous bills… sometimes in the millions -- that they didn't have before."

    When Oracle unveiled its Java SE subscription service, it was positioned as a complement to Oracle's existing free releases and OpenJDK ecosystem. It would "remove enterprise boardroom concerns around mission critical, timely, software performance, stability and security updates," the company said at the time. The advanced groundwork notwithstanding, most organizations were simply not prepared for it, Thomas said.

    "It hit their budgets pretty hard," she said. "I've taken about 250 calls on this topic in the last year. Paying Oracle for a commercial license is clearly the easiest way to deal with this situation, and you might find the support agreements in the apps you're using actually stipulate that you use Oracle Java. But for some organizations, an alternate distribution, such as AdoptOpenJDK, Amazon, Azul, IBM or Red Hat, is pretty much their only option. The good news is, they have those options."

    Another reason the pay-Oracle option might be worth the expense, even with so many alternative distributions to choose from: Third-party distros can be challenging.

    "It's a huge amount of work to identify which programs are using Java, which versions they're using, and then test and verify that all those applications will run on an alternative distribution," Thomas said. "And OpenJDK does not include support for the Java plug-in, which you need if you're running applets or Java Web Start. There's an open source project called IcedTea-Web that supposedly supports it, but I've heard conflicting reports from people about their success."

    Some vendors have licensed Java from Oracle and taken on the cost. Thomas cited Adobe as an example. Other vendors, such as Atlassian, have moved to support alternatives, such as AdoptOpenJDK, in their offerings.

    But the core issue for organizations struggling with all this change is that the vast majority of Java applications -- certainly more than 80 percent -- still have a dependency on Java 8 or earlier, Thomas said.

    "If you want free Java from Oracle with updates on the new six-month cadence, you have to upgrade to the latest version," she said. "At this point, you need to be on Java 13. But hundreds -- probably thousands -- of vendors have Java 8 dependencies, and you have all these third-party applications you run within your organization that don't run on Java 13."

    Oracle says it will end regular support for Java 8 in 2022 and cease extended support in 2025.

    Why are so many sticking with Java 8? "At some point, organizations are going to have to think about moving off Java 8," Thomas said, "but so far, none of the features in Java 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 or 13 have been compelling enough to get them moving. But my advice if you're building new Java applications: They should not be based on Java 8, but Java 11."

    Thomas speculated that the subscription model could influence decisions in the enterprise about future commitments to Java.

    "Java is a really nice, mature programming language," she said, "and it continues to be enormously popular for good reason. But Oracle's licensing is an issue for many of the organizations I talk to. Some of them are definitely reconsidering their Java commitments."

    Thomas saw the writing on the wall for Java EE, now Eclipse Jakarta EE, at least a year before that startling standards-body hand-off. During a 2017 interview with ADTmag, she described Java EE as "overgrown and not right for cloud-native app development." And she advised those responsible for modernizing an enterprise's application infrastructure to "develop a strategy to deal with the obsolescence of Java EE and other three-tier application frameworks." She doesn't have higher hopes for Jakarta EE, even under the more involved stewardship of the Eclipse Foundation.

    The Foundation released the Jakarta EE 8 specification last August with the primary goal of providing a version that is 100 percent compatible with Java EE 8. The plan for Jakarta 9, which was just announced, is to deliver a set of specifications that are functionally similar to Jakarta EE 8, but in the new jakarta.* namespace.

    "It took three years to deal with the namespace issue," Thomas said. "Eclipse needed to do it, but they're now at parity with where we were five years ago."

    "You should be building your back end as a set of restful services," she added, "and your front end using your favorite JavaScript framework. And the front end should be talking to the back end using APIs, because you want that back end to support your mobile clients, your voice clients, your immersive clients, your kiosks, your watches and things we haven't thought of yet. You need to be designing your applications to be multi-experience, and 90 percent of what is in Java EE right now is focused on providing server-side generation of HTML. The applications you build today should be microservices or miniservices with deployment in your favorite platform-as-a-service-type environment or Kubernetes-type environment. And you should be using the MicroProfile, not Jakarta."

    Thomas pointed to a lack of innovation in such Java EE-based offerings as WebSphere, WebLogic and JBoss. "That's old technology and not where you should be targeting your applications anymore," she said.

    Thomas does have high hopes for Quarkus, the Kubernetes-native Java framework Red Hat released last year, which is now compatible with the latest version of the Eclipse MicroProfile.

    "MicroProfile is where it's at," she said.

    Posted by John K. Waters on 01/28/2020 at 8:52 AM0 comments

    Jenkins Creator Launches Startup To Speed Software Testing with Machine Learning

    Kohsuke Kawaguchi, creator of the open source Jenkins continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) server, and Harpreet Singh, former head of the Bitbucket group at Atlassian, have launched a startup that's using machine learning (ML) to speed up the software testing process.

    Their new company, Launchable, which emerged from stealth mode on Thursday, is developing a software-as-a-service (SaaS) product with the ability to predict the likelihood of a failure for each test case, given a change in the source code. The service will use ML to extract insights from the massive and growing amount of data generated by the increasingly automated software development process to make its predictions. More

    Posted by John K. Waters on 01/23/2020 at 7:18 AM0 comments

    Eclipse Jakarta EE 9 Release Plan Approved

    The Eclipse Foundation's Jakarta EE Working Group today announced unanimous approval of a release plan for version 9 of the Eclipse Jakarta EE Platform.

    The Working Group is proposing to deliver the specifications in a series of eight "waves," starting with an Independent (stand-alone) Wave, followed by Waves 1-7. Wave 1, for example, comprises the following specs: More

    Posted by John K. Waters on 01/16/2020 at 12:17 PM0 comments

    Java in 2020, Part 1: What To Expect, According to the Experts

  • MORE ON THIS TOPIC Java in 2020, Part 2: Anne Thomas on Java Subscription, Jakarta and MicroProfile
  • Wait, what? Java's not dead? Irrelevant? Replaced by Kotlin? Python? (Swift?)

    Nope. Java weathered the predictions of its demise yet again, and though it missed being named TIOBE's programming language of the year for the second year in a row (good old C earned that title, which tells you something about this Who's the Most Popular dance), it remains one of the world's most valuable and widely used languages and platforms. More

    Posted by John K. Waters on 01/15/2020 at 8:53 AM0 comments

    Tech Orgs Urge SCOTUS to Reverse Google v. Oracle on Java Copyright

    A number of small companies and tech organizations joined the Mozilla software community in a friend of the court brief, filed this week, urging the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) to reverse a federal circuit court's decision that Google infringed on Oracle's copyrights to Java code in its Android mobile operating system.

    The list of organizations on the Mozilla amici curiae includes Medium, Cloudera, Creative Commons, Shopify, Etsy, Reddit, the Open Source Initiative, Mapbox, Patreon, the Wikimedia Foundation, and the Software Freedom Conservancy.  More

    Posted by John K. Waters on 01/14/2020 at 10:43 AM0 comments

    Exit the Java EE Guardians; Enter the Jakarta EE Ambassadors

    The Java EE Guardians, the all-volunteer organization formed in 2016 to secure the continuing evolution of enterprise Java, is considering a name change -- and not just because "Java EE" has become "Jakarta EE." With the platform now securely evolving under the stewardship of the Eclipse Foundation, the members don't feel they have much to guard these days. In fact, they feel more like ... ambassadors.

    The renaming of the organization to The Jakarta EE Ambassadors is all but a done deal, and it's clearly a milestone in the evolution of enterprise Java and the Guardians' years-long effort to save it from Oracle's neglect. So, I reached out to members of the organization to ask about the process of choosing a new moniker and the group's changing mission.

    "'Guardians' was appropriate for the change in stewardship and governance, because many who relied heavily on the Java EE standard had a sense the transition may go awry," said Dennis Gesker, CTO at Alamon, Inc., in Kalispell, Missouri. "But, boy, things are looking good, and I think it's a positive development that this trepidation has eased. There's traction in EEs new home, and it's moving forward under the new governance model."

    Ondrej Mihályi, a Prague-based engineer at Payara, said "Ambassadors" received a wide consensus within the Java EE Guardians community very quickly. In fact, no other names were proposed that were popular enough to compete with it.

    The Guardians got an assist in their name selection from the Eclipse Foundation, Mihályi explained. "The new name was actually suggested by the Eclipse Foundation, which means there are no legal obstacles to using it."

    "I can't remember who suggested 'Ambassador,' but I think it captures the right tone," said Mike Milinkovich, the Foundation's executive director. "As a community-based, member-supported organization, we don't feel that Jakarta EE needs to be 'guarded' from the Eclipse Foundation, and we're happy to see that they agree."

    The renaming sends a signal that a core part of the Java EE community is ready to embrace the Jakarta EE transition, said Reza Rahman, principal program manager for Java on Azure at Microsoft, and a founding Guardian. "There is no reason to think Jakarta EE should not surpass Java EE in adoption and relevance," he said, "though there is clearly work to be done ahead."

    And what exactly will that work entail? What will be the role of The Ambassadors in the Jakarta EE era?

    "The next step for the group is to begin to strengthen and rebuild the community around the technology," Rahman said, "as well as contribute directly towards accelerating multilateral, forward momentum, now that the transfer from the JCP is complete."

    "We will continue to ensure that the community's voice is heard," said Josh Juneau, application developer, system analyst, and database administrator at the Fermilab particle physics and accelerator laboratory in Illinois. "We want to make sure that it's not only the big vendors who are being heard."

    Gesker agreed that a key role of the Ambassadors going forward will be to represent the smaller members of the enterprise Java community in the governance of the platform. "The big guys -- Oracle, IBM, etc. -- have the resources to directly represent themselves," he said. "So, yes, a group that represents the needs and concerns of little shops and individuals, acting and communicating in a positive and constructive manner, is a good thing, and the branding should reflect that."

    The Ambassadors will also continue to promote enterprise Java, said Mihályi "We hope to help promote Jakarta EE, spread word about it, teach it, represent the voice of the user community, and positively influence the evolution of Jakarta EE and related processes within the Eclipse Foundation," he said.

    Milinkovich acknowledged the "instrumental" role the Guardians played in raising awareness of issues related to Oracle's stewardship of the Java EE Platform. Their work has, in fact, also helped Oracle, other Java EE vendors, and the community to "achieve what many considered impossible: the migration of Java EE to an open, vendor-neutral, community-based organization."

    "We're thrilled that the Java EE Guardians will be renamed as the Jakarta EE Ambassadors," he added. "Having this group advocating for this important technology will be a key part of our community's success going forward. Plus, I am sure that, regardless of what they're called, if they think we're messing something up, they won't be shy in telling us so!"

    Posted by John K. Waters on 11/06/2019 at 9:17 AM0 comments

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