JavaOne 2013 is over. Once again, a nice conference, with a lot of energy in the Java community. We had a fun week, and learned a lot. With over 400 sessions in 5 days, with labs, demogrounds and parties, from 8 in the morning till late in the evening, it was a jam packed week. These are some of the highlights on major themes in the conference.
Java SE and EE
The major Java platforms: Java standard edition and enterprise edition, received some major updates. With SE 8 around the corner shipping in early 2014, and EE 7 shipped last July, there is a lot to learn. Many of the improvements were explained in great detail, providing a jump start of learning what the benefits of new features are.
On Java SE 8, the major feature is Lambda support. Java is behind even C and Cobol, but finally, it’s there. Lambdas are done pretty well out of the gate: with changed collection APIs, “as if final” semantics for Java-esque safe usage of local vars without the verbosity, and a way to integrate with pre-Java 8 APIs. Lambdas also provide a gateway to new future improvements: such as support for many-core parallelism, done in the Sumatra research project. It also enables a more functional style of programming, and API that provides better abstractions and ease of use.
Java EE 7 is a big bag of small incremental improvements, with a few major new features like batch support and REST/Web Socket APIs included by default. Although nice additions, most of these APIs are available for a while now as additional libraries, like Spring Batch or Jersey. To me, the improvements in core APIs felt more important: better alignment between APIs, like CDI that can be used much more consistently, or improvements in the Servlet API to support OWASP security remediations using fully standard Java EE. Providing a more consistent, modular set of core APIs, was also a view expressed in the Java EE spec panel discussion for Java EE 8. There is still much room for improvement here.
Internet of Things
A strong focus of the conference was on the Internet of Things. Java has a long history in the embedded market (it was developed first for embedded coding), and has some impressive successes already. Oracle has big plans: cleaning up the Java Micro Edition (ME) portfolio, by trimming down the 8 existing profiles to one or two, and making ME fully language compatible with SE again.
Also to acknowledge that todays embedded hardware is much more potent, Java SE is now targeted on those devices as well. Raspberry Pi, a massively popular hardware board that costs just 25 dollars, will now get an official Java SE installation in its default distro. With all the debugging tools and libraries of SE, this is really attractive. Also, the JavaFX team worked with Raspberry to improve graphics drivers, making it possible to run a rich UI on this small system.
Internet of Things is a real thing, and Java is poised to play a major role. I was inspired watching the Intel IDF 2013 keynotes already, on JavaOne there was lots more to see. The technical keynote: where a tablet, desktop, robot and web page worked together in a chess game for instance, or the Do It Yourself hardware movement, where software developers build their own supporting hardware platforms instead of relying on separate companies. It feels really cool and fresh to build these kinds of software/hardware solutions!
JavaOne has once again a strong community vibe. There was special attention to several education programs, getting more kids into the software development industry is a big issue right now. The Devoxx4Kids initiative already provided workshops for hundreds of kids, using custom hardware to play with. Minecraft, a hugely popular Java game, was modded on-stage by a 10 year old Java programmer, making it probably the youngest tech-demo ever (and the only demo that worked completely flawless). The newest Lego mindstorms will now support Java out of the box, and several other tools are in the works to get Java to the kids. Several large companies showed their community support: like Goldman Sachs, which employs over 3000 Java developers. This emphasizes the power of open source and active collaboration for Java: Java is so much bigger than just Oracle alone, or the major ISVs.
All in all a big inspiration, I had fun presenting at JavaOne once again, and meeting new and familiar faces. I’ll see you again at the NLJUG J-Fall 2013! Be sure to sign up while you can, the conference is almost sold out!