As if Oracle did not have enough work convincing MySQL users of its good intentions, the company also should set its sites on getting the Java platform back on track, contends a Google chief architect.
The Java platform has "appeared rudderless for the last few years," said Google's chief Java architect, Josh Bloch, speaking Wednesday at the Red Hat Middleware 2020 virtual conference. "A malaise [has fallen] over the community and the end is not in sight."
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While Bloch admitted that the platform, which supports not only the Java language but other languages that run on the Java Virtual Machine such as Groovy and JavaFX, remains popular, he also stated that it has been beset by a number of problems.
"Technical and licensing disputes over the last few years have been highly detrimental. They've sapped the energy of the community and caused plenty of bad press," he said.
The problems around Java that Bloch mentioned largely predate Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems, which oversaw the Java development process, and Bloch called on Oracle to step up as the prime steward of the language and associated platform software.
"Oracle should take the lead of Java once again," he said.
Bloch cited a number of shortcomings: the length of time between new versions of Java continue to grow; Java 7's ship date keeps slipping back; the future of the Java Community Process (JCP) remains murky. He noted that the code base is, for the first time, in danger of being forked.
Perhaps the largest drag on Java is its myriad licensing conditions, Bloch said. "The main thing that is hurting Java now is that there is a jungle of licensing," he said. As an example, he pointed to the existence of Apache Java Harmony, an alternative open-source implementation of Java that was developed to avoid Sun's licensing restrictions.
Bloch singled out the Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME) as stagnating and falling behind the times. J2ME was not designed for the amount of power that devices have today. "It doesn't make sense to use a restrictive platform," he said, adding that the platform is in no shape to compete with the likes of Apple's iPhone. (Google decided to not use J2ME in its Android mobile platform, instead developing its own version.)
At least one index of programming-language usage has found that Java is on a downward trend. Tiobe Software surveys the usage of programming languages by checking the number of mentions each language gets on Web search engines. For the first time in four years, Java, normally the most-cited language, has been surpassed in popularity by the C programming language. Tiobe attributes this decline to the growing use of other, simpler, languages that use the Java Virtual Machine.