In order to more thoroughly understand the state of the Java ecosystem today, we interviewed 11 executives with diverse backgrounds and experience with Java technologies, projects, and clients.
Specifically we spoke to:
Anthony Kilman, Tech Lead, AppDynamics | Gil Tene, CTO, Azul Systems | Bhartendu Sharma, Vice President of Operations, Chetu | Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect, Isomorphic Software | Fred Simon, Co-Founder and Chief Architect, JFrog | Ray Auge, Senior Software Architect, Liferay | Michael Hunger, Lead Developer Advocate, Neo Technology | Brandon Allgood, PhD, CTO, Numerate | Dr. Andy Piper, CTO, Push Technology | Jonas Bonér, Founder and CTO, Typesafe | Toomas Rὅmer, CTO and Founder, ZeroTurnaround
The Java ecosystem is massive. Everyone we spoke with has been working in the ecosystem throughout their careers, and most have positive feelings about how the platform has evolved to one that is open.
Even though Java is not described as a “bright and shiny object,” it continues to have a very bright future—assuming Oracle and Google can resolve their differences.
Here’s what we learned when we asked, "How has the Java ecosystem evolved from your perspective?":
Java has been my life. I created a company in 1998 for the Java enterprise, another in 2008 and now a Java package for all players and open source. I've evolved with the enterprise and help drive the evolution along with many others in the Java community.
Java started as a verbose, explicit, very long object oriented language for functional programming back in the 1980’s Now that we’ve reached the quantum limit, functional programming is back in vogue. The type inference is helping it become less verbose while adding more functional capabilities.
The ecosystem has formed over time. It’s become huge. Open source is getting involved particularly under Apache. Much more has become available. It's a virtuous cycle - as more people use it becomes more commercialized. Success breeds success. The ecosystem is what makes Java. Scala is an interesting language but doesn’t have the ecosystem, the tooling. Business is interested in what things do, not how things are built. Java is easy to maintain while esoteric systems are not as they move in and out of favor.
After being stuck on Java 6 during the transition from Sun to Oracle, we now have a sound release schedule with significant improvements made to each edition.
Incredible evolution from Java 1.5 and parallel computations to Lambda in Java 8. Other evolution of the JVM language using the Java byte code.
Nine years ago, Java code was the strongest. From Java 5 on every release has had more stability and more features. A lot of new improvements. JavaSE plus Enterprise plus the mobile edition are getting more emphasis and share of new features and development.
Java 8 is the single biggest inflection point with the JDK and new language features. We are seeing the initial shocks but it’s going to have an effect for the next couple of years.
Open source prior to Java 8 and now Java 8 allows us to make use of innovation - Lambda, JVM, method libraries.
New releases are picking up on language features (e.g. adaptations and Lambda), backwards compatibility and level of quality. Able to do big moves with little collateral.
It improved a lot since Sun moved to open source in 2004. The open JCP includes Sun/Oracle and the entire community is involved - everyone contributes. In contrast, Microsoft kept control over their language. Java continues to focus on performance and ability to run on more machines. Widespread adoption - ubiquity. They’re in a good space - every day we see a new product come to market using Java.
Poorly. Sun’s lack of leadership and major missteps (e.g. JavaFX, JSF) have led to a plethora of conflicting approaches in basic areas of the Java platform like UI and data binding.
How has the Java ecosystem evolved from your perspective?