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What's Next for Java at Oracle?

  • September 21, 2010
  • By Sean Michael Kerner
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The future of Java under Oracle's leadership is one that includes continued innovation across multiple deployment areas including servers, desktops and mobile devices. That's the message delivered by Thomas Kurian, executive vice president, Oracle Product Development during a JavaOne keynote address detailing the road ahead for Java.

New graphics, performance and enhanced programming capabilities are all on Oracle's roadmap for Java development. Oracle took over the stewardship of Java as part of its acquisition of Sun which closed earlier this year.

"We're focused on two very fundamental things with servers and desktops," Kurian said. "To optimize Java for new application models that are emerging classes and for new classes of hardware that we see emerging."

Kurian added that the roadmap for Java development includes an effort to enhance developer productivity. Oracle's Project Coin which is now under development, will provide improved type inferences for instance creation as well as other innovations that are aimed at improving developer productivity with more concise code. Project Lambda on the other hand will bring closures to the Java language. Kurian noted that Lambda will provide a more concise replacement for inner classes and it will support automatically parallel operations on collections.

Oracle is also planning on building new modularity into the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) by way of the new Project Jigsaw initiative.

"It basically means that we're integrating a module subsystem within the JVM enabling a JVM implementer to provide a single VM that will scale all the way from a low end notebook all the way to a high-end server," Kurian said. "For the developer it eliminates the error prone classpath and it also makes packaging and deployment of applications a lot easier."

On the desktop, Kurian said that the time has come to provide better interoperability between Java, JavaScript and HTML5. He noted that the Java client will need to be able access HTML5 content through embedded tags. Additionally, Kurian said that developers should be enabled to take a JavaFX based layout and be able to manipulate it via JavaScript providing two-way interoperability.

The graphics engine is an important part of the Java/HTML5 interoperability plan from Oracle. As part of the roadmap, Oracle is developing a brand new high performance Java graphics engine called Prism. Kurian noted that Prism will be seamlessly integrated with the JVM and the Java runtime. Prism will provide developers with 2D and 3D graphics capabilities as well as take advantage of hardware-based graphics acceleration.

As part of the new Java graphics push, Oracle is also positioning Java as tool for user interface design though new JavaFX features and Netbeans IDE releases set to debut in 2011. Kurian committed to making the new JavaFX user-interface controls available under open source licenses.

"We want everyone to know that we want the nine million Java developers in the world to never have to choose a different environment to build a great looking UI (user interface) again," Kurian said.

For mobile developers, Kurian sees Java being deployed on all types of consumer devices. Oracle is working an effort it calls Project Java Mobile.Next to update and expand Java for mobile devices. Kurian noted that Java Mobile.Next includes updates to the language, virtual machine, libraries and APIs. Oracle also plans on further integrating web technologies into the Java ME (mobile edition) including Webkit and JavaScript. Kurian said that there will also be a Java to JavaScript bridge to make it easier to mix and match both native Java apps and web based applications.

Oracle also wants to expand Java on mobile to make regular phones into smartphones.

"Our view is that all devices have intelligence emerging, all of them are connected on the network and Java can run on these devices allowing you to download intelligent applications into," Kurian said.

While Oracle is helping to direct where Java is headed, Kurian stressed that Java goes beyond Oracle. "The future of Java is not about Oracle, it's not about any specific company," Kurian said. "It's about you the developer community and how you make the language great and how you build great application with it."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.




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