EclipseCon: Oracle Pushes Java Modularization

Two executives from Oracle -- one veteran, one newly acquired -- kicked off the annual EclipseCon conference, underway this week in Santa Clara, Calif., with a keynote Tuesday focusing on the future of Java under the stewardship of Oracle.

"Java is certainly the crown jewel of this acquisition," said Steve Harris, senior vice president of Oracle's application server group. "It brings together a tremendous base of developers and a tremendous community, and it's incredibly important to our business." Harris joined Oracle in 1997 to manage development of the Java virtual machine for the Oracle8i release.

"Developers are the life blood of Java," said Jeet Kaul, who joined Oracle with the Sun acquisition to serve as vice president of the company's client software development group. "Nine million developers are using Java, and we want to grow that community. And how do you grow that community? We have to make sure that Java is available in as many places as possible… and we want it to be a competitive platform." While at Sun, Kaul led the team that created Java FX, Java ME, Java SE and Java Card, among others.

The two execs were short on specifics, but touched on several areas, including an overarching plan to push Java modularity based on the Open Services Gateway Initiative (OSGi) specification.

The module-based design principles defined by the OSGi have emerged as the defacto means of componentizing enterprise Java, RedMonk analyst Michael Coté told this in an earlier interview. OSGi provides a common model for writing and deploying applications to local or remote computers in modularized form. The spec frees developers from the need to create monolithic applications and facilitates collaboration among many small components.

Both Eclipse and the Glassfish application server are built on the OSGi spec.

Oracle wants the Java Platform to support OSGi modules alongside the base Java platform modules, Harris said, and the company is working with the group to make that happen. According to Harris, Oracle's plan involves a module system framework that gives developers a consistent API for accessing and manipulating modular systems, and implements underneath the covers the Java Platform module system. This arrangement would eliminate the need to choose between these systems, he said.

"OSGi is an incredible part of the ecosystem and the platform overall," Harris said. "So the commitment here with building this Java Platform modular implementation is that it will support OSGi modules alongside the base platform modules. The way we'll do this is with a module system framework that gives you a consistent API for accessing and manipulating modular systems, and implements underneath the covers the Java Platform module system, which can be alongside OSGi."

Kaul told attendees that Oracle is currently working on a roadmap for the Glassfish app server. The timing of the 3.1 release and the roadmap details would be available in the next few days, he said.

Kaul, who confessed to being a "bona fide Java bigot," promised to push for improvements in things like generics, additional support for dynamic languages and enhancements of JavaFX RIA platform, which he described as a reaction to developers' need for a new graphics pipeline in Java.

Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems was completed in January in a deal valued at more than $7 billion. The Redwood Shores, Calif.-based company is nearing the end of its "Hundred Day Plan" to integrate the assets of its neighbor from Santa Clara, Kaul said.

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].