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The JCP's VanCura on Java in 2019

As Chair of the Java Community Process (JCP), the technology standards and specifications organization behind the evolution of the Java language and platform, Heather VanCura has a lot on her plate. She leads the activities of the JCP Program Office, manages the organization's membership, guides spec leads and experts through the process, leads the Executive Committee (EC) meetings and manages the JCP.org Web site. She's also responsible for the Adopt-a-JSR program, organizing hack days and other events, and promoting the overall growth of the membership. She also blogs, tweets and travels the world on behalf of the ever-expanding Java ecosystem.

So, although I was disappointed that we couldn't connect for a face-to-face interview for one of my annual Looks into the Future of Java stories ("the Future" is big -- huge, in fact -- so there's always more than one), I wasn't surprised. But then she did surprise me with an e-mailed list of her top five predictions for Java and the community in 2019. (Thanks goes to Alex Shapiro at Oracle, who made it possible for me to pursue an interview this very busy exec without seeming like a stalker.)

Topping VanCura's list: There will be more collaboration and increasing contributions from Java community members.

In 2018, VanCura wrote, the JCP began exploring strategies for streamlining and "evolving" the JCP Program to meet the needs of the changes in the Java development ecosystem. And there have been a lot of changes in the past year, most notably the Eclipse Foundation's decision to accept stewardship of enterprise Java and rename it Eclipse Jakarta and Oracle's implementation of its faster Java release cadence.

Under the Java Specification Request "Streamline the JCP Program" (JSR 387), which was completed in December, the JSR lifecycle process was updated "to bring it in line with the way Java technology is developed today," VanCura explained, "in an open and more iterative manner."

"I think the community will be excited about the changes introduced," she added, "and indications from several engaged community members point towards them looking at more substantial ways they can contribute to Java technology evolution, either through OpenJDK or other projects."

Number Two: There will be a focus on the importance of standards and specifications.

"One of the crown jewels of Java is the specifications," she wrote. "Standards increase adoption, allow for choice in implementations and make the technology easier for developers to implement. As standards-based groups focus on how to bring their development process into closer alignment with the open source development model, I think open source groups will put an increasing focus on how to embrace standards and specifications -- for example, with the Jakarta EE development at the Eclipse Foundation, and the establishment of a Specification Process, for use within the Eclipse Foundation."

Number Three: Developers will increasingly work in a polyglot environment.

Although Java continues to be an extremely popular programming language (it consistently tops TIOBE Index), virtually all developers are using more than one language these days. One big piece of evidence that this is a trend with legs, VanCura pointed out, was Oracle's decision last year to roll up the JavaOne conference into a new event with sessions, tracks and keynotes covering an expanded menu of languages, frameworks, tools and tech called Oracle Code One.

The Code One event brought in a range of developer communities, she pointed out, and such languages as Go, Rust, Python, JavaScript and R, as well as other technologies, such as machine learning, blockchain and artificial intelligence.

Number Four: Java developers will embrace a more iterative development style.

"As we transition from a Java SE Platform release once every 3-4 years to a release every six months," she wrote, "Java developer will grow more accustomed to downloading the early access builds available and running their applications against them to determine any changes needed and whether to migrate to the upcoming version. Since the Java SE Platform has transitioned to a release every six months, starting with Java SE 9, that means there are fewer new features in each release. For example: there were over 100 Java Enhancement Proposals (JEPs) in Java SE 9, but only 12 JEPs in Java SE 10 and 17 JEPs in Java SE 11 (the current version, released in September 2018). This means the migration from one version of Java to another becomes a much smaller development project than in the past. In addition, because the new model calls for JEPs to be targeting only when ready, developers will have access to newer features on a more frequent basis to try out in development, rather than having to wait multiple years for the next release of Java to use in production."

And Number Five: The Java community will see an increase in local community events.

"Over the past several years, I have noticed a definite movement towards a stronger Java community," VanCura wrote, "and in particular, more localized leadership. The passion and enthusiasm of the Java community is another crown jewel of Java, and I see this rising, with events in even smaller communities. The community is what keeps me passionate about my work every day, so I am looking forward to visiting a few new communities in 2019, and continuing to see the adoption of Java grow around the world."

Posted by John K. Waters on January 7, 2019