Soundbyte 362: Pop 101


September: the month where everything’s booting up again after a well-deserved summer break. Schools, work, the tech conference season, my laptop… Oh wait, my personal MBP doesn’t actually boot anymore since spilling tea on it last week, tough luck. But, there’s another milestone in September that I want to talk about: the release of Java 11 on September 25th.

As most of you probably know, Java switched to 6-monthly release schedule after Java 9. No longer do we have to wait multiple years for new major Java releases. Instead, we get a predictable stream of more incremental releases. Is a major new feature not ready to be released yet? No problem, it can be put in the next release that’s only 6 months down the line, instead of blocking the release of other good stuff in the meantime. We developers love agile, so what’s not to like about this newfound agility of the Java platform?!

Well, it turns out that upgrading major Java releases used to be a big deal, and happened about every three years. Should ops teams or infrastructure teams now be subjected to upgrades every 6 months (assuming dev teams don’t mind keeping up)? Many enterprises shudder at this thought. That’s why Oracle decided to mark certain Java releases as a Long-term Support (LTS) release. Java 11 is the first of the new Java releases after Java 8 that gets this designation. So let’s all switch to Java 11, sounds good, right? However, some confusion ensued in the community: do I now need to pay for this long-term support with Oracle’s JDK? What about OpenJDK?

The short answer: Java is still free, as in speech and in beer. But Oracle’s LTS is only available for Oracle’s commercial build of OpenJDK (named Oracle JDK), for which you need a paid subscription. Fortunately, there are other OpenJDK builds as well, which can be used for free. As of Java 11, Oracle JDK and OpenJDK are technically equivalent, so there’s no reason to prefer Oracle’s JDK anymore. One open question is how OpenJDK 11 will be supported (and receive updates) by the community or other vendors after 6 months. I have no doubt that this will be picked up, since it will be such a pivotal release for the Java ecosystem. A more in-depth exploration of all the options can be found in this community-driven Google Doc ‘Java is Still Free‘.

So what is actually new in Java 11? Most visible is the addition of a new HttpClient API that supports HTTP/2 and Websockets. A complete overview can be seen in the list of JEPs targeted for Java 11. Or –if you don’t like slogging through specifications– you can watch my Pluralsight course “What’s New in Java 11“, published this week. If you don’t have a Pluralsight account: it will be free to watch for a week starting September 25th!

Java’s future, given everything described above, was definitely one of the hot topics at the JavaZone conference where I spoke last week. It’s clear that Java 11 will be an important release, but it’s not completely clear how things will work in terms of adoption and support across different vendors. Time for Luminis to lead the way for teams that want to look beyond their trusty Java 8!

Looking forward to next week, on a completely different topic: we’re running our annual experiment day at Luminis Apeldoorn this Friday. A small group of people has prepared some ideas and rough sketches for a project that will be very useful in our office. It includes hardware (Raspi’s, Magic Mirror, custom 3D printed enclosures) and obviously software (AWS IoT, some machine learning and of course pretty front-ends). Looking forward to this very much, nothing beats hacking on cool stuff without any external pressure. Hopefully we can show you some results soon!

Now, we still need music. Or should I say “music”, in this case? I ran across this parody of typical pop songs that’s too spot on: Pop 101 by Marianas Trench. Worst thing is they managed to create a chorus that stuck in my head, despite its mockery. Lesson for me? Yes, do think outside of the box — but also know what works effectively in highly competitive landscapes. Don’t be afraid to sometimes use proven techniques when you want a hit.