Java One 2009 Day 1

The Morning Keynote

I am no fan of keynotes, but I figured I should earn my press pass (thanks Jacki!) and show up.

The keynote started auspiciously, promising a release of Java SE 7, but that turned out to be irrational exuberance—it was just another JDK 7 build. This may seem a trivial distinction, but it is not. There is no official JSR for Java SE 7, and at tonight's JCP party unnamed but knowledgeable people agreed that Sun was not moving forward with the JSR because they are nervous about Apache Harmony. Perhaps the plan is to forge ahead with JDK 7 and then rubber stamp a fait accompli through the JSR process, which would not be good.

Apparently, every keynote must go through the usual dreary ritual of allowing paid sponsors to say their part. This time, we had

Once we got that out of the way, things got more interesting. There was a demo of a Korean made TV set running Java FX. This was the first really compelling use case that I saw about Java FX. Flash or Silverlight aren't plausible candidates for running in a TV set. But Sun has experience in getting Java into embedded devices, and you want flashy UIs there, not Swing. And there is a nice per-device royalty coming Sun's way.

Nandini Ramani showed off a nifty looking authoring tool for Java FX that is slated to be available by the end of the year.

Then there was a demo of the Java store, presented by James Gosling. The idea is that a developer can put an app on the store, turning the labor of love into day job. When I first heard about it, I was dubious, but I can see two advantages. (1) The “drag to install” feature is nicer than anything you can do on Windows today (2) The app store can automatically install new versions.

Most importantly, at the end of the keynote, Scott McNealy and Larry Ellison showed up. They said the usual things about not being able to say anything until the acquisition was completed, but then Larry said soothing words about being supportive of OpenOffice, Java FX, and Android-powered netbooks.

In the post-keynote press conference, someone asked why Java FX wasn't developed under the JCP. Good question, I thought. Jeet Kaul, a Sun executive said that the speed of innovation in this technology wasn't compatible with the JCP. Ouch.

I asked about the sorry state of Java ME/FX on cell phones. I was reminded that it takes a long time for phones to incorporate new technologies. Fair enough, but the showcase phone for Java FX (which you can buy on the show floor) is the HTC Diamond, running Wince. I think I'll pass.

In summary, this year's Java FX demos looked a lot better than last year's. I did come away with the impression that the renewed focus on the desktop was for real, and that Oracle might keep it going.

The Afternoon Keynote

In the afternoon, Bob Brewin hosted annoucements on the status of Java SE, EE, and FX. Mark Reinhold gave a nifty demo on managing modules in Java SE. He got a resounding applause when he said “the classpath is dead”. Roberto Chinnici demoed Glassfish v3 and got a round of well-deserved applause when he demoed “deploy on save”. If you have not experienced hot deploy of an EE app, you should really give Glassfish v3 a try. It is a game changer in terms of developer productivity.

I'll spare you the details about SOA and the app store.


Joe Darcy talked about “project Coin” or small language changes in JDK 7. Properties, reification of generics, and closures are definitely out. They would impact too many parts of the JDK. He walked us through the many issues raised by the introduction of enum. Personally, I wasn't convinced that any of these issues were very complex. I keep complaining about issues with JSF 2.0, but those are an order of magnitude more complex than those mentioned in Joe's talk. Let's just say that the core team is very cautious. Among the features that we might see in JDK 7 are

Well, it's better than nothing, but I have come to realize that the Java language may well have reached the end of its evolution. For more fun/productivity, it may be best to look for other languages on the JVM. I attended the Clojure presentation. The software transactional memory feature is intriguing, but otherwise, I think I'll still consider Scala first.

I was on the “Tools and languages” selection committee again this year, where we reviewed about 500 proposals for technical sessions and BOFs. Many of them were excellent, and we could only accommodate a small fraction. Rather than filling the entire allotment with JRuby talks (←minor sarcasm here), I successfully lobbied for some of the more advanced topics, such as Michael Ernst's presentation on type checking annotations (JSR 308) and Phil Haller's work on Scala actors. I was very happy to see Michael's talk fill up with an attentive audience that asked lots of great questions.

Overall, for me, the highlight of the day was seeing Larry Ellison on the stage, seeming generally supportive of the entire breadth of the Java ecosystem.