Oracle claims Java SE, ME convergence is boon for developers

There's a stronger focus on Java use in embedded systems, plus praise for improving Java 8 via Project Lambda

Oracle anticipates developers who are now confined to either the Standard or Micro editions of Java will be able to leverage their skills on both, as the company plans to converge the two platforms.

Java developers using the two editions have had multiple technologies to deal with, including CDC (Connected Device Configuration), CDLC (Connected Limited Device Configuration), Java SE (Standard Edition), and Java ME (Micro Edition), resulting in siloed implementations of Java, said Nandini Ramani, vice president of the Java platform at Oracle, during the JavaOne conference Sunday in San Francisco.

Company officials made clear their intentions for Java to show up on small, embedded devices, which has been a specialty of the ME edition. "We really believe it's very, very important to unify [Java platforms]," Ramani said. Unification would be from API and language perspectives.

The upcoming Java 8 platform presents a milestone for platform unification, including using Compact Profiles on Java SE to replace CDC, Ramani said. With Java 8, developers get code portability, commonality of APIs, and shared tooling from smallest device to SE embedded. "Developers will b able to use their skill sets across the entire spectrum," instead of being limited to being either Java SE or ME developers, she said.

Beyond Java 8, Java SE will be reworked for use in embedded and smaller devices, and ME will be brought up to parity with SE. But plans still call for continuing to have both the SE and ME implementations instead of merging them into one, with ME geared to sensors and very small devices. CDC goes away as a separate specification as part of the convergence of ME and SE.

With Java ME 8, ME will use the Java SE language and APIs, making it easier for developers. Oracle's convergence plans were viewed positively by Bruce Boyes, founder of embedded Java systems vendor Systronix. "Java ME languished for years [at Sun Microsystems] and it was originally architected a long time ago when memory was really expensive and limited, and that's no longer true," Boyes said.

In another move emphasizing Java for embedded systems, Ramani said Oracle was working with partners to make Java a first-class citizen on chip sets such as ARM, Freescale, Qualcomm, and Gemalto.

Java Development Kit 8, based on Java SE 8, is due early next year. "Java 8, I'm thrilled to say, is revolutionary. Java is back," said Mark Reinhold, a chief architect in the Java platform group at Oracle. He lamented that, some years back, Java had been subject to corporate neglect. But Project Lambda capabilities in Java 8 will improve its syntax, Reinhold said, and represents the single largest upgrade ever to Java's programming model.

Oracle also announced the open-sourcing of Project Avatar, which has been viewed as a way to better link HTML5 to Java applications. Avatar features a JavaScript layer to support REST, WebSocket, and Server-Sent Events, as well as a client layer assuming minimal JavaScript knowledge. IDC analyst Al Hilwa praised the move: "This is a move that not only would win good will from Oracle, but also should improve the adoption profile of the technology and is in line with the open source nature of the Web ecosystem of technologies."

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