Moving beyond the 'Java is dead' hype

Oracle's recent clarifications, Java vendor support, job trends, and even Microsoft's efforts suggest a bright future for Java

Recent news coverage could suggest that the Java ecosystem is about to implode, and thereby put at risk the billions of dollars and tens of thousands of hours the customers and developers have invested in Java. The truth couldn't be farther from that bleak prognostication.

Java's rocky 2010

Java champion and Apache Software Foundation member Stephen Colebourne provides a good summary of recent trials and tribulations that the Java ecosystem has endured. In his post, "Babylon 5 & the Great War of Java," Colebourne writes: "In a short period of time, Java has gone from the platform designed to unify the entire industry to a highly politicized punching bag."

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A key element in the angst around Java's future has been Oracle's lack of public engagement with the Java ecosystem as the events in Colebourne's blog post were unfolding.

The Eclipse Foundation's Ian Skerrett provided helpful advice to Oracle on working in open communities:

The basic premise of the book [The Cluetrain Manifesto] is that communities are really conversations and to succeed you need to be part of and interact with the community. I know this can be a challenge with all your lawyers and marketing executives trying to control the message, but you have to do it to gain the trust of the community. Companies like IBM and SAP manage to do it, so you can too.

The good news is that Oracle has broken the silence and is helping to clear up the fear, uncertainty, and doubt behind its recent Java-related decisions. For example, Oracle's Adam Messinger, vice president of Java development, commented on Colebourne's Java Community Process (JCP) post:

On the topic of Hologic, our feeling is that standards folks, technologists, and technology vendors are already well represented and there is room for some new opinions at the table. The fact is that a big part of Java's success is driven by thousands of developers at small and mid-size companies like Hologic. These developers, who are working squarely in the Microsoft sweet spot, are on the forefront of our competition with .Net. Hologic has bet its business on Java -- not as a supplier of Java, but as a consumer -- and we think having their perspective on the [Java Community Process Executive Committee] is valuable. They are absolutely representative of a large cross-section of the Java community.

When explained, the nomination of Hologic is perfectly logical. In fact, you could question why Java customers were not better represented on the Java Community Process (JCP) in the past. In response, you could presume that Java vendors, like IBM or Red Hat, brought forward the needs of their customers to the JCP.

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