What’s in store for Java

ORACLE Corp is working to make the Java programming language more user friendly to help increase software developer productivity.

“Our roadmap covers everything on the Java platform, including the language, virtual machines and programming interfaces such as Java Standard Edition, Java Enterprise Edition and Java FX,” said Thomas Kurian, Oracle executive vice-president product development.

Kurian, who was speaking at Oracle OpenWorld, said the time has come to give Java developers a development framework and runtime environment to build great user interfaces for web and native applications. (A native application is one designed to run in a computer environment.)

To do all this, Kurian said, Oracle is going to merge the power of Java with the ease of Java FX, a platform for creating and delivering rich Internet applications. It’s also going to provide native interoperability between Java, Java Script and HTML5.

“There is no question that HTML 5 is the future browser environment and we want to give developers a single programming model for that,” he said. He said this single programming model will be based in Java FX and can be used in both native and browser domains so that the developers can build applications using a common programming model.

Java FX will have APIs that allow visual design and a standard, complete set of user interface (UI) controls that allow the developers to visually assemble an application, as well as support data binding through various kinds of backend sources.

“The developers will also be getting a standard library of controls and Oracle is committed to making those available in open source, so that any developer can access them to build sophisticated applications,” Kurian said.

But even with all these changes in place, it will still be the standard Java, he pointed out. “Any Java developer who is familiar generics or annotations, etc can build these applications. There is no need to learn new programming models or graphics models to build great looking UIs.”

New engine

Oracle will also deliver a new graphics engine to support these Java-based applications. The engine called Prism will be delivered next year.

Prism graphics is integrated with Java Virtual Machines and JRuntime, a library for Java that allows developers to compile, execute and modify Java code.

Developers can create 2D objects with it and quickly perform a variety of enhancements, such as shadowing and blurring. They can also transform the 2D objects into 3D, and soon they will also be able to support native 3D transformations and 3D objects.

“The new engine will also have support for up-to-date graphics hardware accelerators, like DirectX for Windows and OpenGL for other environments. If you have a computer with an nVidia or ATI graphics card, they’ll run great,” Kurian said.

Oracle, he said, is also enabling the developers to be able to build applications using NetBeans, which is available on the open-source platform.

NetBeans is a platform framework for Java desktop applications, as well as an integrated development environment for developing Java, JavaScript, PHP and many other languages.

“The developers will be able to do everything from assembling the application, designing the user-interface edit, compiling, debugging, deploying and modifying, in one integrated lifecycle experience,” said Kurian.

He said the Java developers can look forward to two new NetBeans releases — also planned for 2011. He claimed that there is growing interest in NetBeans, and its users have increased by about 20% in the past six months.

Enterprise edition

Oracle will also continue to enhance and optimise Java Enterprise Edition 6 (EE6).

Introduced last year, Kurian said EE6 marks a big change for enterprise servers, and that more is being done to make it better when supporting new application models.

“We will continue to focus on interoperability when scripting EE6 with other languages so that the developers can mix and match in these environments,” he said.

There are also plans to have two Glassfish releases next year, which will also be available in open source. Glassfish is an application server project for Java Enterprise Edition.

Next, as computing devices shrink in size, Oracle has made plans for Java to run efficiently in these environments.

The umbrella project for this is called Mobile Java.net and will include updates to the programming language, virtual machines, libraries, optional packages and APIs, in addition to updates to the language.

One of the goals Oracle wants to achieve in this space is to keep the Java Runtime lightweight and CPU efficient, while giving the software developers consistent tooling and emulation capabilities so they can more easily develop and emulate across different environments.

Oracle is also working on optimising the footprint of Java Mobile Edition to make it more efficient. “This is very critical especially since developers are creating applications for low-end devices that don’t have as much (computing) power,” Kurian explained.

In addition to this, he said, Oracle is committed to delivering the best in open-source implementation, and announced two new Open Java Development Kit (JDK) releases in open source over the next two years.

These releases will serve as the basis for the Oracle’s JDK 7 and JDK 8, and the Java developer community will have a say in what features will be included in these releases.

The Open JDK project continues to thrive with contributions from Oracle, as well as other vendors, researchers and individuals, and its licensing model will remain unchanged, according to Kurian. — JO TIMBUONG

Related Stories: Oracle boxes up the cloud Dialling up Fusion Applications

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