Oracle Releases Java 7

Oracle on Thursday announced the availability of the Java Platform Standard Edition 7 (Java SE 7). This is the first release of the core Java platform under Oracle's stewardship, and the first new version of Java to make it out of the open source community in five years.

In the company's announcement of the release, Oracle described Java SE 7 as "the result of industry-wide development involving open review, weekly builds and extensive collaboration between Oracle engineers and members of the worldwide Java ecosystem via the OpenJDK Community and the Java Community Process (JCP)."

The release follows hot on the heels of the first and only release candidate, unveiled on July 7. Oracle chief Java architect Mark Reinhold said at the time that it would be "more evolutionary than revolutionary."

"We all know that, for various business and political reasons, this release has taken some time," he said. "This is not the revolutionary release that some of our past releases have been. It's more of an evolutionary release. There are some significant improvements, but no really earth-shattering or ground-breaking kinds of features."

The most significant changes in this release, said IDC industry analyst Al Hilwa, are the multicore support with Fork/Join, the support for dynamic languages like Ruby, Python and JavaScript, and the new file-system API (PDF link).

"All these have been on the drawing board for some time," he said, "so it is great for Java developers to finally see them happen. One important message that comes through from all that has transpired around Java over the last year and a half is that Oracle appreciates the value of Java and will move it forward through solid investment. This has to be a great relief for the community."

A number "small" language changes were made with this release; together, Oracle calls these changes "Project Coin."

Modularization is also a key part focus this release. Oracle is pushing what the company describes as, "A large-scale effort to refactor, or break up, the Java SE platform into smaller, separate, interdependent modules." Individual modules, the company says, can then be downloaded as required by the Java virtual machine and/or Java applications, effectively shrinking the size of the runtime on the user's machine.

The senior vice president of Oracle's Fusion Middleware group, Hasan Rizvi, peppered his official statement with reassurances about the community support of this release.

"We're very excited about Java SE 7; this is a great release with strong technology updates. I'm pleased that the Java community has come together in favor of technical progress and that we have a clear path forward for Java SE 8," Rizvi said. "Oracle has a strong vested interest in the success of the Java platform and is firmly committed to delivering a consistent, high-performance, high-quality Java SE implementation and will be supporting the Java SE 7 release across the Oracle Fusion Middleware product portfolio."

Oracle encourages developers who are interested in getting started immediately with the Java SE 7 release to "leverage" NetBeans7.0, Eclipse Indigo with the additional Java SE 7 plug-in and the new IntelliJ IDEA IDE 10.5 -- all of which support the latest features of the Java SE 7 platform. Oracle says it will provide support for JDK 7 in its own JDeveloper IDE later this year.

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].