JDK 8 & JavaFX Updates Released

Oracle released a major update the Java SE Development Kit (JDK 8) this week.

Along with a number of security fixes, JDK 8 Update 40 (JDK 8u40) comes with improvements to the native packager, a new time-zone updater tool, new Nashorn optimizations and a bundled version of Java Mission Control 5.5, among other enhancements. In the latest JavaFX update, the media stack has been ported to Mac OS X, and there's a new public API that allows developers to write their own accessibility controls.

If there's a theme to this release, it's probably "Oracle's continued commitment to improvement," but there's also a clear attempt to provide a context for Java within the emerging network of connected everyday objects.

"The proliferation of mobile devices and the Internet of Things has led to an increasingly connected world, but none of this would be possible without underlying foundational technology like Java," said Georges Saab, vice presidentof development in Oracle's Java Platform group, in a statement. "With these updates to JDK 8, we continue to usher in the next era of Java to enable developers and enterprises alike to cement Java's role as the backbone of today's and tomorrow's revolutionary business solutions."

IDC analyst Al Hilwa calls this release "a milestone of delivery and cooperation."

"The capabilities are all about mission critical Java," he noted, "including some low-level work inside the JVM that improves performance and predictability."

The list of updates and enhancements in this release include:

  • G1 enhancements (JEP156), which limit the likelihood of long pauses while the system frees resources.
  • Dynamic Enablement of the Java Flight Recorder (JFR), which simplifies the usability of profiling and event collection framework built into the JDK.
  • Native packager improvements that allow developers to create native-feel applications that do not require clients to have an existing Java runtime installed.
  • A new Time Zone Date Updater Tool, which can consume the 'raw' time zone data (tzdata) rules from the IANA time zone registry database and convert it to the format required by the Java Runtime Environment.
  • Optimization of the Nashorn JavaScript engine, including support for dynamic languages. There's also a new Nashorn Class Filter, which provides fine-grained control over access to Java classes from JavaScript code through a new filtering interface.
  • A new "JVM Reaction to Memory Pressure" feature, which can be leveraged to reduce the amount of memory used on a system in which multiple JVMs are deployed.
  • Java Mission Control 5.5, which is based on Eclipse 4.4 and includes plug-ins "that are now signed and will by default hide Lambda Form hidden methods."
  • Lambda Form Reduction and Caching (JEP 210), which reduces the required memory footprint for apps and improves performance of dynamic languages.
  • Scalable Native Memory Tracking (JEP 195), a feature upgrade that allows it to run significant performance impact.
  • Enhanced cryptographic performance of SHA algorithms.

Java SE 8 was released almost exactly a year ago after some unpopular delays, and the subsequent rapid adoption rate of the platform suggested pent-up demand. A survey by Typesafe, the company behind the Scala language, conducted last October indicated that nearly two-third of Java developers had either migrated to Java 8 or said they were planning to before the end of the year. Last September, Oracle cited "record adoption rates" of Java SE 8. Overall adoption was up by more than 20 percent over to the same post-launch time period for Java SE 7, Oracle stated.

More details of the update are available online here.

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].