Oracle's stewardship of Java is under fire -- again.
This time, the company's development of Java EE (Enterprise Edition) has become a sore spot for devotees of the platform, including Java creator James Gosling and a former Java evangelist who left Oracle in March.
Called Java EE Guardians, the group launched a petition about the matter on change.org on Thursday, said Reza Rahman, former EE evangelist at Oracle and a leader of Java Guardians. Gosling's name sits at the top of the membership page. The petition asks where Oracle stands on the planned Java EE 8 release, requests that the company maintain its commitment to the release, and claims that if Oracle is unwilling to do the work on Java EE, it should cede control to others, such as IBM or Red Hat.
While professing to lack insight into what's going on inside Oracle, Gosling said Thursday that the "tidbits" he has heard were "pretty disturbing." He left Oracle not long after the company acquired original Java owner Sun Microsystems in 2010, under acrimonious terms. "It's not so much that Oracle is backing off on EE, but that it's backing off on cooperating with the community," Gosling said. "Taking it ‘proprietary', going for the 'roach motel' model of non-standard standards -- 'customers check in, but they don't check out.'"
The Java EE Guardians website emphasizes concerns about commitment. "Our purpose is advocacy, raising awareness, finding solutions, collaboration and mutual support. We believe that together -- including Oracle -- we can prove that this is the dawn of a new era for an ever brighter future for Java, Java EE, and server-side computing."
Oracle was accused of de-emphasizing Java last year after it dismissed or reassigned evangelists, thereby raising questions about its commitment to the platform's openness. Still, the company shortly thereafter held its annual JavaOne conference devoted to Java.
Another participant in Java Guardians, blogger Peter Pilgrim, describes Java EE 8 as being "in crisis." There is an unease about the future, he said, though he admitted he doesn't know if Oracle in fact has backed off its commitment to Java EE because the company has been silent. "Oracle has not made any public announcement about the Java EE reduction of commits and progress," he noted.
Java Guardians emphasizes the importance of Java EE, pointing out that hundreds of thousands of applications have been written with it and that many frameworks depend on it.
Version 8, which will emphasize cloud capabilities as well as HTML5 and HTTP 2.0, is due in the first half of 2017, but Rahman questions this timeline. He describes work on Java EE 8 as "lackluster from the start," with activity having been stopped, and he described the open source GlassFish application server, which has been the reference implementation of Java EE, as "very much a dead project." He acknowledged GlassFish has competed with Oracle's own commercially available Java application servers.
Rahman said he left Oracle after questioning the company's commitment to Java EE himself, wondering, "How could I be evangelizing a platform that Oracle is clearly not investing in?" He now works as a consultant at Captech Consulting. Asked if Oracle wants the community to take over development of Java EE, Rahman responded, "It's impossible to determine what Oracle wants because they have not even acknowledged yet that there is a problem." Specification leads from Oracle, who are in charge of improvements planned for enterprise Java, have not been responsive to input, according to Rahman.
Leaving Oracle, Rahman said, gave him the bandwidth to do what needed to be done as far as promoting development of Java EE. The platform, he stressed, is fundamental because of its execution on servers. "Most work happens on servers, even with microservices, even on the cloud." One benefit of the current situation around enterprise Java is it could result in less control over Java EE by steward in charge, which now is Oracle. "Oracle and Sun have always had an unhealthy amount of influence."
Oracle could not be reached for comment Thursday on the efforts of Java EE Guardians.