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Oracle stamps authority on Java roadmap

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OpenWorld JavaOne Oracle has laid out plans for the future of Java while the official body responsible for stewarding the world's favorite programming language sits in limbo.

Oracle server technologies head Thomas Kurian has laid out a roadmap of changes to the delayed Java Development Kit (JDK) and features for Java SE Java EE designed to take advantage of what he called new application models and new classes of hardware.

Oracle also mapped out its plans for Java ME and Java FX, intended to try offer a Java alternative to Adobe's Flash and Microsoft's Silverlight here.

It was a bold statement at the first Oracle-owned JavaOne intended to demonstrate Oracle's serious about continuing to invest in and develop Java following the acquisition of Sun Microsytems earlier this year.

"People want to hear what's the three-year product roadmap we see for Java," Kurian told JavaOne in San Francisco, California. "We want today to make sure every developer... is crystal clear on where we see the Java platform evolving."

Oracle's all-business approach is a welcome change to the Sun years, where there was constant talk of stagnation of Java and no visible end-goal or purpose - just a sense of keeping on.

But Kurian's declaration will also cause disquiet among those who feel Oracle might be taking too much control and putting Java on a course that suits Oracle's server, Fusion Middleware, and applications businesses over any other purpose.

It also comes as the Java Community Process (JCP) - where changes to Java are proposed and ratified - continues to languish, with no statement from Oracle over what it's got planned for the body.

Kurian told press at JavaOne that Oracle has made a number of proposals to the JCP about its future that are under discussion with the executive committee. What do the proposals say? Kurian wouldn't specify. "Until we get a resolution we are not going to comment publically," Kurian said.

Kurian refused to comment on calls by Java father James Gosling for Java to be handed over to an independent foundation for development and maintenance.

Gosling - fresh from having left Sunoracle in August - said Oracle should live up to its proposal in 2007- with BEA Systems - for the JCP to be turned into an open, independent, vendor neutral-standards body. The proposal was voted on and approved by other JCP members.

The Java daddy has printed up T-shirts and badges calling for Oracle to let Java go, and he encouraged JavaOne delegates to wear them at the now Oracle-owned JavaOne.

In lieu of any JCP action, and asked who was calling the shots on what goes into Java, Kurian told press that the plan he has unveiled has been constructed with the community and that the resulting feedback is "extremely positive" in supporting Oracle's product plan.

As to that plan, the database giant has decided to deliver the delayed JDK in two installments, in 2011 and 2012, apparently deciding it's unrealistic to cram all the planned changes into a single code drop.

JDK 7 is being split and streamlined, with Projects Lamda and Jigsaw for closures and modularity respectively dropped and with just part of Project Coin for greater productivity included

This JDK is now planned for mid 2011.

A follow-on JDK 8 is due in late 2012 and will feature Lambda, Jigsaw, and the remainder of Coin plus other features yet to be determined.

These projects will feed into Java SE and EE - the core of application servers and Java containers. The virtual machine will be optimized to run on new multi-core processors. There will be the ability to handle very large heaps with reduced pause times caused by garbage collection. And there will be improved monitoring and diagnostics.

Meanwhile, Oracle is continuing the work started at Sun for the Java virtual machine to run languages other than Java. ®

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