JavaOne 2013 Strategy Keynote: Unifying Java & Creating a Standard

The 18th annual JavaOne conference opened on Sunday afternoon with what has become its traditional strategy keynote. The presentations covered a range of topics -- including strategic positioning of Java as the best open platform for the Internet of Things -- while maintaining a sharp focus on the critical role Java continues to play in the enterprise, its ongoing evolution as a language and platform and the successful stewardship of Oracle.

Peter Utzschneider, Oracle's vice president of Java product management, kicked off the presentations before a crowded auditorium in San Francisco's Moscone Center, the event's longtime digs before it was moved to "The Zone" (the Hotel Nikko, Hilton San Francisco Union Square, Parc 55, and the surrounding area), when Oracle decided to run JavaOne concurrently with its OpenWorld conference.

"On all fronts, it's been a very good year for Java," Utzschneider said, adding that Java continues to be the No. 1 development platform in the world, running most of the infrastructure of the Internet, and accounting for the largest active developer community. But he also acknowledged that "massive shifts, massive innovations and a huge amount of change" pose significant challenges to his company and the community.

Mobility, social media, big data and the cloud are driving these changes, he said, as is the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT). Since Oracle took over the stewardship of Java, the company and the community have provided major updates of Java SE 7 and Java EE 7. But the rate of change in which those platforms are employed has been "dizzying," he said.

He called on developers challenge themselves "to make Java better, stronger, more robus and continue to be relevant for decades to come."

Nandini Ramani, vice president of development in Oracle's Java Platform group, joined Utzschneider to talk about the direction of the Java Platform. Ramani cited unification of the various implementations of Java -- Java EE, SE and ME Embedded -- as a priority. The pace of evolution of Java ME (v3), for example, hasn't kept up with Java SE (v7). Oracle unveiled Java ME Embedded 3.2 just about a year ago. Based on the Java Platform Micro Edition, Java ME Embedded is designed specifically for small, low-power, resource-constrained devices.

Java 8 will be a "huge milestone" toward platform unification, she said. That release will improve code portability, commonality of APIs, and common tooling from embedded to server-side Java. For example, Java SE 8 will be released with the Compact Profile, which will replace the Connected Device Configuration (CDC) Hotspot implementation. It's also aiming to synchronize the releases with a coordinated cadence among the platforms, she said, to keep them at parity as they evolve. The early access version of both Java SE 8 and Java ME 8 are now available.

The ultimate goal, she said, is to make it possible for Java developers to use a single skill set across the entire spectrum.

Oracle will also continue to shrink Java SE to fit into smaller and smaller devices, while bringing Java ME up to be on parity with Java SE. She touched on Oracle's new Java Platform Integrator program, introduced in August, which aims to help its partners to customize Java ME products (Java SE Embedded, Java ME Embedded and Java Embedded Client) for different device types and market segments.

As the company continues to abstract away the complexity of the various Java implementations, life for Java developers is going to get a lot easier, Ramani said.

"You will no longer be a Java SE developer, or a Java ME developer," she said. "You'll just be a Java developer who can leverage a skillset across all the platforms."

Underlying this activity is another goal: to make Java the open standard platform for the "Internet of Things." The company is currently working to make Java a "first-class citizen" among all the chipset vendors and device makers with this goal in mind. The embedded marketplace has long been highly fragmented, a heterogeneous ecosystem of different boards and form factors, all targeting different industry applications.  Java is the logical choice for this fragmented market, she said.

Underscoring this goal, Utzschneider let attendees know that they were already participating in the first conference demo: "IoT in Motion," a joint project of Oracle, Eurotech, Hitachi Communication Technologies America, and Hitachi Consulting. The movements of attendees of both JavaOne and OpenWorld will be tracked anonymously from numerous locations throughout the conferences; that sensor data will be fed to a Java SE app running on a gateway, from which (after a bit of crunching) will be sent into a cloud. There, trend data and analytics of traffic patterns will be visualized to "illuminate the dramatic power of the Internet of Things," the companies said in a joint statement.

"In the short course of a couple of weeks," Utzschneider explained, "taking off-the-shelf Java componentry, the teams were able to build a pretty sophisticated demo, string this together, and prove the value of Java as a standard open platform, from the smallest device all the way up to cloud-based development."

Cameron Purdy, vice president of Oracle's Cloud Application Foundation, joined Utzschneider onstage to discuss server side Java. The Java Platform Enterprise Edition 7 (Java EE 7) and the Java EE 7 SDK shipped in June. That release dramatically simplified the process of building Java EE apps are built. It also added support for a number of web standards, including HTML5, Web Sockets, JSON, and a modern HTTP client API. WebSockets, which supports simultaneous two-way (full-duplex) communication channels over a TCP, reduces the response times of HTML5 apps. JSON (JavaScript Object Notation), the text-based standard for human-readable data interchange based on JavaScript, simplifies data parsing and exchange.

Purdy pointed to ongoing Java EE efforts around the cloud, including new security roles, the ability to automatically wire up default resources into an application, easy consumption of RESTful services among applications and the ability to custom "skin" applications.

"We have gotten tremendous support from the community and our partners," he said, "which makes it a vibrant technology and keeps it relevant to what the industry is doing."

He also announced that Project Avatar, a development strategy announced in 2011 that faded a bit in 2012, was now open source. Avatar aims to help developers create Web (and mobile) applications without requiring a browser plugin, using HTML 5 and JavaScript (Nashorn implementation) on client-side, and Java EE backend on the server-side.

The theme of the five-day event (Sept. 22-26) remained unchanged from last year: "Make the Future Java." Oracle doesn't break out the registration numbers for JavaOne, which runs concurrently with Oracle OpenWorld. Together the two events are expected to draw more than 60,000 attendees from more than 126 countries. Attendees will be presented with more than 2,500 educational sessions; 400 product demos; and exhibits from 500 partners showcasing applications, middleware, databases, servers, storage systems, management systems and infrastructure.