Gosling: Java source code already available

The current model for Java is close to an open source model, the technology’s father said

Anyone looking for Sun Microsystems to relinquish control of Java to the open source community or to join the Eclipse Foundation is likely to be disappointed, based on Java guru James Gosling's perspectives on these issues.

Sun Microsystems maintains a policy of requiring testing for Java compatibility and already offers a great deal of Java technology in an open source fashion, Gosling said in an interview this week to discuss next week's JavaOne conference and other subjects. Gosling is CTO for the Java enterprise and developer group at Sun and is considered the father of Java.

"There's a bunch of people out there getting all hyper, and I don't believe there's anything there for them to get hyper about," Gosling said when asked about the possibility of a full open source route for Java.

Source code for Java already is available and has been for 10 years, he said. The current model for Java is close to an open source model, Gosling said.

Java developers, meanwhile, want to preserve interoperability and reliability, which is maintained by the current rules governing Java, Gosling said. To be certified as Java-compliant, software most undergo a test suite.

"They really like the fact that we're very compulsive about the whole testing thing," Gosling said.

Despite some assertions to the contrary, Sun is doing fine with making money from Java, he said. The company earns money with its Java Enterprise System network services software and also in selling services and support, Gosling said.

As far as the possibility of Sun joining the Eclipse Foundation for open source tooling, Gosling would not support this. Sun and Microsoft remain perhaps the only two major technology vendors who are not part of Eclipse.

"It would be a big step down. NetBeans was an open source project a long time before Eclipse ever came out," Gosling said.

The Eclipse endorsement of the Standard Widget Toolkit (SWT) destroyed that organization's interoperability story, according to Gosling. "It’s a toolkit based on the Windows API and getting it to run on other platforms is problematic," he said.

An Eclipse spokesman disagreed with Gosling's assertions about Eclipse and SWT.

" I don't believe James really understands how Eclipse works," said Ian Skerrett, Eclipse marketing director. The Eclipse platform works well on Linux, Solaris, Macintosh, and Windows, and the SWT API is independent of the deployment platform, he said.

"The strength of SWT is that it actually uses the native APIs of the platform," Skerrett said.

Eclipse also is not a step down from NetBeans, Skerrett said. "I think Eclipse is a very popular, well-used, full-functioned IDE that has the dominant market share in the Java space," he said.

Asked about scripting languages such as PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor)taking the spotlight from Java, Gosling stressed coexistence.

"Many of the people who build PHP and Ruby applications actually end up using Java," Gosling said.

On the subject of Scott McNealy recently stepping down as Sun's CEO, Gosling said he did not know if this was something McNealy particularly wanted to do or not. The company has been beset by poor financial performance in recent years, leading to prior speculation that McNealy would step aside.

"That's a question for Scott to answer or not," Gosling said.

At JavaOne in San Francisco, the newly released Java Enterprise Edition (Java EE) 5 will be a key focus.

"The big thing that we're going to be emphasizing is all the stuff in Java EE 5," Gosling said. Java EE 5 was unveiled last week and features ease of use improvements and Web services programming enhancements. Reducing complexity for developers is a prime objective in Java EE, according to Gosling.

The show will include a focus on integrating units such as handhelds with back end systems such as manufacturing systems, he said.

As far as Java's future, Gosling stresses networking. "It's all about integration. It’s all about building connected systems that are extremely diverse," he said.

"The cell phone is tomorrow's desktop," Gosling said.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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