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December 14, 2017
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The Impact of Oracle's Java EE Move to the Eclipse Foundation

  • October 2, 2017
  • By Manoj Debnath
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Java EE finally moved to the Eclipse Foundation as its new home. It was a joint decision among Oracle, IBM, and Red Hat.

This is a welcome move on the part of Oracle and would benefit Java EE in the long run. In view of the new and emerging trend of technologies, Java EE needs a rapid pace of innovation.

Rich Sharples, Senior Director of Product Management of Red Hat states "...one of the motivations for changing the governance and process is to move Java EE forward in a more agile and responsive manner".

This is interesting because Java Communities have always complained about Java EE's slow response to emerging trends to innovative technologies in the recent years. Also, James Gosling have been campaigning for a long time to make Java free and urging Oracle to live up to their 2007 pledge to create an independent Java foundation. Perhaps including these and several other factors led to the decision.

According to Oracle Evangelist David Delabasse, Oracle intends to make the following policy changes in the process of transfer (of course, this is subject to change in the future).

  • Relicense Oracle-led Java EE technologies, and related GlassFish technologies, to the foundation. This would include RIs, TCKs, and associated project documentation.
  • Demonstrate the ability to build a compatible implementation, using foundation sources, that passes existing Java EE 8 TCKs.
  • Define a branding strategy for the platform within the foundation, including a new name for Java EE to be determined. We intend to enable use of existing javax package names and component specification names for existing JSRs to provide continuity.
  • Define a process by which existing specifications can evolve, and new specifications can be included in the platform.
  • Recruit and enable developers and other community members, as well as vendors, to sponsor platform technologies, and bring the platform forward within the foundation. This would include potential incorporation of Eclipse MicroProfile technologies into the platform.
  • Begin doing the above as soon as possible after completion of Java EE 8 to facilitate a rapid transition.

Oracle, perhaps, is expecting a significant makeover of the Java EE brand, such as giving a new name to begin with. The current Executive Director of the Eclipse Foundation, Mike Milinkovich, serves on the board of the Open Source Initiative was a former Vice President of for Oracle as well as WebGain states in his blog:

As enterprises move to a more Cloud-centric model, it is clear that Java EE requires a more rapid pace of innovation. The open source model has been shown time and again to be the most successful way to innovate in today's world. The Eclipse Foundation is focused on enabling open collaboration among individuals, small companies, enterprises, and the largest vendors. The Eclipse MicroProfile project is, we believe, an excellent example of the developer community-led style of collaboration we support. We look forward to supporting the Java EE community as it creates the platform for the next twenty years of business applications.

Important Changes in Java SE As Well...

In relation to Java SE, there is news worth mentioning. Oracle also plans to bring significant changes in the use and redistribution of Java SE. Donanld Smith, Senior Director of Product Management, provides the following summary of their plan:

  • Oracle is proposing to increase the release cadence of Java SE to every six months.
  • Oracle will simplify how developers, customers, and consumers use Java SE.
    • Starting with JDK 9 GA, Oracle plans to ship OpenJDK builds under the GPL.
    • Oracle has proposed a time-driven release model for Java SE instead of the historical feature-driven model.
    • Oracle JDK will contribute previously commercial features such as Java Flight Recorder to OpenJDK.
    • Oracle will work with other OpenJDK contributors to make the community infrastructure complete, modern, and accessible.
  • The Oracle JDK will continue as a commercial long term support, offering the following features:
    • The Oracle JDK primarily will be for commercial and support customers once OpenJDK binaries are interchangeable with the Oracle JDK (target date, late 2018).
    • Oracle will continue to enhance the packaging and distributing of complete ready-to-run applications.

The plans to ship OpenJDK under GPL builds can have significant impact on the product development in the Java platform. Soon, there will be no technical difference in binaries of OpenJDK and OracleJDK. Initially, this will be offered in Linux x64 binaries only. And, the binaries for MacOS and Windows subsequently will be offered. The GPL will empower developers to be free to develop and distribute Java product targeting any devices without worrying about additional licensing.

Currently, OpenJDK is released under the GPL v2 whereas Oracle JDK is licensed under the Oracle Binary Code License Agreement. They have the same library API implementation. However, there is a significant difference in the JRE offered. The Oracle JDK includes a few more extra libraries that are closed, such as the font library. The Open JDK uses the open libraries only. Whether Oracle going to drop those extra libraries to accommodate under GPL is remains to be seen.

Conclusion

The overall picture seems promising. The decisions taken by Oracle are commendable. Henceforth, the Eclipse Foundation will be decisive of the future course of innovation in Java EE. In the field of technology, changes in hand are common; it only remains to be seen how ably they are handled. Java SE also will see some new changes. Perhaps, Oracle is moving towards the dream that James Gosling has to free Java once and for all.






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