Every week, usually on Sunday evening, one of us writes a soundbyte about some personal experience, news, or anything else that might have happened that week that is noteworthy. Sometimes however, something happens that warrants an extra soundbyte, and this week has been such an occasion.
A JavaOne conference is always something special. I still vividly remember my first visit to San Francisco, going to the huge Moscone convention center with Hans for the first time, standing in the endless line to register and get in and finally making it to an enormous underground room where the opening keynote is given. Back in those days, Sun was still in control of Java, a language that came from one of their research labs and originally was meant for embedded applications. It “accidentally” hit it big in the enterprise years later and the rest is history. On stage were the big guns of that time, Scott McNealy, Jonathan Schwartz and of course the “father of Java”, James Gosling. It was in the early days of Luminis, when one of our biggest projects relied heavily on OSGi and provisioning and mobile phones were using CLDC to mainly run games. One of the partners during that keynote was Nokia (remember them, they used to be the biggest mobile phone company in the world) and they presented a phone that was running OSGi: a special developer version of their flagship Communicator. Those were exciting times, and Hans and me were impressed with Nokia’s plans at the time. We were not in the slightest bit bothered by the fact that nobody else in the room (filled with literally thousands of people) understood what they were talking about. We did!
Fast forward about ten yearsâ€¦ A lot has happened since. Oracle has taken over stewardship of Java since the demise of Sun. This meant that JavaOne got merged with the Oracle OpenWorld event and got pushed out of the Moscone into neighbouring hotels. It also meant that we gained things like the appreciation event, an evening on Treasure Island when approximately 16.000 people take an endless stream of free busses to an island with the most gorgeous view of the San Francisco skyline by night ever. Once there, they listen to a concert, enjoy food and drinks and even have some fun in one of the many attractions that includes a ferris wheel. To be honest, no appreciation event can ever top last year’s, when Pearl Jam gave a concert that rocked the whole island!
Sunday morning, Sander, Bert, Paul and me again stood in front of the Moscone. After a few years in different locations around the town, Java finally came home again, at least for the opening keynote, albeit not attracting as many people as in the early days when the technology was booming. A counting device registered about 2500 people, and presumably many more visited the conference later that week. Other things had changed as well. Oracle has a different style when it comes to presenting new things. The early days saw many great initiatives that all had in common that they were very exciting. Most of them however failed miserably. The announcements this year were more conservative, which is a good thing given the maturity of the platform. Java 8 will be released next year, and will align releases for desktop and different embedded profiles. For the first time, embedded will be in sync, and this will remain so. The biggest new feature in Java 8 is probably lambda expressions. If you have not heard about them, or the new streaming API that makes parallel processing a breeze, what rock have you been under for the last year?!? 😉
IBM had some interesting announcements as well. They have developed a multi-tenant virtual machine that is able to run many tenants in completely isolated VMs whilst still saving a substantial amount of footprint by internally sharing as much as possible. These tenants can also be assigned all kinds of resource restrictions and can be terminated individually. Another interesting proposal they made was to introduce a “packed object” in Java, that saves a lot of the overhead caused by the standard “Object” class by more or less “inlining” fields from embedded objects. It would require a language change, but the potential speed gains are huge, and IBM seemed prepared to drive this change.
Project Jigsaw, still scheduled for Java 9, is likely to just modularize the JRE, and nothing else and in fact Mark Reinhold said, and I quote: “if OSGi would not run on Jigsaw, we consider that a bug in our implementation”. In other words, OSGi is and will continue to be the de-facto standard module system for Java. Oracle is pushing the “internet of things”, which became very apparent from the keynote. For many enterprise developers in the room that was a big change. Everybody was invited to try the newly released Java SE embedded for the Raspberry Pi, or build their own copy of the DukePad, a tablet based on the Pi. In a sense, they are continuing in Sun’s footsteps: the network is the computer. Freescale, one of the sponsors, committed to Java big time as well, trying to push it into 30 cent embedded mini-computers, so Java might disappear for completely different reasons! On a more serious note, we now see Java is being supported everywhere, from the smallest edge note to the biggest cloud server.
Some other interesting talks included sessions about the new streaming API that, as I stated above, makes it easy to do parallel processing and all kinds of filtering and has a fluent and very readable syntax. The newest version of Jetty was another one that impressed us. So much that we are determined to bring this version to OSGi as part of Amdatu. A crazy session I went to on the last afternoon was a game engine and IDE based on Eclipse done by a startup of two people. Their presentation started late, not due to their own fault, but what they had to show was impressive. Eclipse running on OpenGL and vertex shader accelerated graphics, for the purpose of the presentation even embedded in a 3D world, replacing the whole of SWT. A scene graph and many other interesting things that allowed you to quickly build games for many different platforms, even compiling Java with LLVM and Apache Harmony’s class libraries down to machine code for mobile platforms. Excellent stuff, especially given the fact that these guys did all of this next to their day-time jobs. Yet another interesting talk came from Jan Rellemeyer, whom we know from many years ago when he created a very small OSGi R3 framework implementation called Concierge. Now working for IBM in Texas he is finishing a new version of that framework that is supposed to implement R5 whilst still remaining extremely small, both in terms of footprint and code size. There were many other sessions that are worth mentioning, so don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you want to know more. All sessions should have been recorded (audio and video stream from the laptops) so no doubt you will be able to watch them soon.
Apart from overloading our brains with all this information, we of course also had a great time. There were many parties and San Francisco is a great town in general. We also met a lot of old and new friends and learned that a lot more people use the open source projects we participate in as quite a few came up to us this week to introduce themselves. JavaOne is a great conference and an excellent platform to show the world what we, a dedicated and enthusiastic Dutch company driven by passion and bright people, can achieve. We have many great stories to tell and I can only be proud and hope that many others will join us in getting the word out!
Normally, I start my soundbyte with a song, but this time I chose to end it with one. And for a special reason. After some lengthy discussions with my colleagues, I’m proposing Metallica to headline the next appreciation event. I’m sure in that case, either Soundgarden or the Foo Fighters would be happy to play along. But back to Metallica, there really was only one song I could pick that fits our culture and attitude well and is often quoted by Jan Willem: “An open mind for a different view, and nothing else matters!”