2009 was one of the more eventful years for the Java community. There were hopes and (mostly) fears around Oracle's aquisition, impatience about Java 7, continued controversy over whether we want closures or not and a round of other acquisitions bringing change to the open source landscape.
Before I go into the opinions of some of the leaders in the Java community, I'll give you my own thoughts on the past year for Java.
- Oracle and Sun
First we thought IBM were all set to buy out Sun, and no one was too surprised when it fell through. Then out of nowhere we see Oracle throw their hat in the ring - and the merger looks like it's about to get full go ahead now. Not before time.
While Larry Ellison pledged to support the Java platform in JavaOne, ironically, rumours persist that JavaOne 2010 won't be happening, in favour of merging the conference with Oracle OpenWorld. Can that work?
- Java Remains Strong
I know we've had many articles on JavaLobby that ranged from pronouncements on the death of Java to the other extreme. But one thing is for sure, Java has remained as popular as it ever did in the industry. As you'll see from Rod Johnson's comment below, a lot of companies have continued their investment in Java and don't see it declining.
Despite the difficulties of the global economy, this is significant. Even more so, the increase in takeovers proves that both Java and the IT industry in general is fairly resilient. No matter what happens with the whole Oracle thing, the Java community will ensure the continued success for the language and the platform.
- The Year Of Acquisitions
As well as the Oracle and Sun story, SpringSource made their presence felt in the community by continuing their own pattern of buy-outs. SpringSource became major players in the Groovy community with the purchase of G2One, got into the cloud with Hyperic and proceeded to become a full division of VMWare, giving them an important foothold in the virtualisation market.
Meanwhile, Terracotta took over the Quartz and ehCache open source frameworks, making it a huge year for them.
I see all of this as positive. We're seeing a maturity in the Java community, both commercial and open source. This year has proved that open source does make commercial sense after all.
On the topic of acquisitions, I got the opinions of Alex Miller and Rod Johnson, two people at the center of the acquistion trend, to find out what they thought of the year for Java in general. I also got the thoughts of Hamlet D'Arcy for a view from the Groovy community.
Alex Miller, Terracotta
If I were to pick 4 things in the Java/JVM world to highlight from 2009 they would be:
- Oracle buying Sun (maybe eventually) - this has so many impacts on the Java landscape that it's hard to think of some aspect of the Java world that it doesn't touch in some way. The current not-yet-acquisition is really the worst of all possibilities as nothing can be officially decided till it's complete (or not). I think we'll see it resolved one way or another in 2010, presumably a completed acquisition with Oracle making some concessions in one way or another.
- Open source business - on the flip side of the Oracle-Sun deal is open source business. In 2009 we saw SpringSource acquire G2One and Hyperic, VMWare acquire SpringSource, Intalio buying Webtide (Jetty), Terracotta acquiring the open source frameworks Ehcache and Quartz. I'm sure I've forgotten some other big ones too. I suspect that in 2010 we will see just as much activity, particularly in the cloud arena.
- Java 7 - a year ago we were just starting to get a good feel for what would (and would not) be included in JDK 7 (the Sun reference implementation). I think the important part of the Java 7 story is really the lack of a JSR and Sun's continued work on the implementation without a spec from the JCP. The latest news from Devoxx to include closures has to be one of the biggest headlines of the year. I doubt that any real progress on Java 7 as a spec will occur until after the Oracle acquisition but I'm hopeful that the logjam will break and we'll see some real progress.
- JVM languages - while Java sits in limbo, the other major JVM languages had a great year. While production success stories in languages like Groovy, Scala, Clojure, and JRuby were relatively hard to come by a year ago, they seem to be popping up everywhere now. The use of these languages is still tiny compared with Java but there are companies betting real money on succeeding with these languages in production environments. Every day these languages seem less risky and more approachable and the alpha developers are circling.
I think in 2010 we'll see an even bigger up-take, particularly in the Groovy/Grails area which is such a short step for Spring/Hibernate developers. These languages are big because a) they're more concise, b) they're more powerful, and c) they give new options for concurrency. All of these help developers build better software more quickly.
Rod Johnson, SpringSource
2009 has been an interesting year. The acquisition of Sun by Oracle, which seems like it's about to happen should have been really big. In reality, I don't think it's going to make much difference. We've continued to see the open source technologies grow in usage. What has happened is that a threatened change of ownership around Java itself hasn't really bothered the community. We've continues to see really strong work. Our web traffic at SpringSource has pretty much doubled in the last 12 months.
In relation to SpringSource's trail of acquisitions, in particular SpringSource's buy out of G2One:
People felt more comfortable purchasing a Grails subscription for the vendor behind Spring. Obviously Grails builds on Spring so the acquision made a lot of sense from an infrastructure perspective. We've also found that with our acquisition of Hyperic that we can tell a richer story around build, run, management - the whole application lifecycle. We literally saw the lights go on in a number of customers who could see that 'you're a strategic vendor for us'.
What we're doing as part of VMWare is taking that to another level of critical mass. One of the comments that I made in my keynote at the Spring Experience, was that we've continued our course of acquistions with the last being SpringSource and VMWare. Our vision of matching up the build phase through the run phase in server and management, it actually was a completion of that trajectory, for us to work with VSphere, the virtualisation platform.
If you look at the big trends in the industry, the cloud really forces these concerns together. Developers really need to take management concerns into account. There is less bureaucracy between developers and production. So joining the developer story with the production story has become increasingly important.
- Griffon Released
While Flex and JavaFX duked it out for developer mindshare in the coveted (and hyped) RIA space, a groovier team quietly forked the Grails codebase and adapted it for Swing desktop applications. Griffon is way more than a dynamically typed builder pattern on top of Swing components. Griffon gives you property binding to widgets (you're not the only one Flex), a standard and simple MVC architecture without a spaghetti monster diagram (that's you PureMVC), more components than just a TextBox (the complete JavaFX widget set last Winter), a plugin system that allows you to decompose problems into reusable addons, and an easy way to deploy your app via webstart. If the Griffon team can keep the energy they had in 2009 then 2010 should be the year of the lion. Or eagle... or dog. What the hell is a griffon anyway?
- Groovy Tooling Explosion
Looks like IntelliJ IDEA has some competition for best Groovy IDE. The Groovy Eclipse plugin got new life as Andrew Eisenberg revived the project, and SpringSource released better Grails support in SpringSource Tool Suite. Was the open sourcing of IDEA a response to the new competition? Who cares, it's free now! While IDEA is still the best IDE for Groovy, Groovy users will surely benefit from each IDE maker trying to outdo the other.
- VMWare Buys SpringSource
Seriously, who saw this coming? This week at Groovy/Grails Exchange, Graeme Rocher demoed deploying to the cloud from his IDE (according to Twitter). Easy cloud deployment is good news... it will end the monthly "who do you use for Java hosting?" questions on user groups. Now if only the price would come down.
James Ward, Technology Evangalist, Adobe
- Spring Source released Spring BlazeDS Integration 1.0 making it super easy to connect Flex-based RIAs to Spring back-ends
- Joa Ebert created a tool that converts Java to SWF creating a foundation for being able to write Flash-based RIAs in Java, Scala or any language on the JVM
- Flex and Java in the Cloud gained major support with Google App Engine adding Java support and Stax going into limited beta
Now that you've heard what some people think of Java in 2009, what are your thoughts?