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Oracle coughs up Java 7 release candidate

A non-revolution five years in the making

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Oracle has published the first release candidate for JDK 7, the long-awaited next version of Java set to officially debut on July 28.

On Thursday, during a webcast from the Oracle bunker in Redwood City, California, Java chief architect Mark Reinhold said that the most significant thing about the new release is that "we're finally shipping it". Though it has been nearly five years since the release of Java 6, the new version isn't exactly a huge leap forward.

"We all know for various business and political reasons, this release has taken some time," Reinhold said. "This is not the revolutionary release that some of our past releases have been. This is a more of an evolutionary release. There are some significant improvements, but no really earth-shattering, ground-breaking kinds of features."

The most notable addition, he said, is JSR 203, the new I/O APIs. "We finally have a real file system API that will let you do things like manipulate symbolic links and access file system-specific operations," Reinhold said. He also pointed to the Fork/Join framework (JSR 166y) overseen by concurrency genius Doug Lea, a means of providing true parallelism on the platform. "This is the first step towards really enabling Java for multi-core applications."

There's also JSR 292, for supporting dynamically typed languages on the JVM.

In a blog post, Reinhold said that the release candidate includes only thirteen changes from the last build. Over half are administrative updates, but the rest dealt with "true showstoppers", including several hard VM crashes and a JIT correctness bug related to Eclipse.

Reinholds says this will likely be the only release candidate – unless additional showshoppers are reported. The release must be rubber-stamped by the Java Community Process (JCP) executive committee. ®

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