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Oracle Reiterates Support For Java

Development of Java and Java Virtual Machine will continue unabated and key parts of it will remain open source, Oracle told developers at Openworld.

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Oracle will continue to deliver improvements to the Java Development Kit, a key component in a Java programmer's library, and keep both the JDK and Java Virtual Machine available as open source code, said Thomas Kurian, executive VP of software product development at Oracle Openworld. While the news was expected, it was a welcome confirmation of Oracle's support following its purchase of Sun.

His talk came at the end of a long opening day for Oracle OpenWorld on Sept. 20, a symbolic switch for Java aficionados who are used to having San Francisco's Moscone Center to themselves during JavaOne instead of getting it only after the big Oracle customers had moved on.

This year JavaOne attendees were pushed out to meetings and presentations hosted in surrounding hotels, sometimes two or three blocks away, and suffered the indignity of needing to follow arrows painted on the sidewalk pointing away from Moscone. By combining JavaOne with Oracle OpenWorld, a total of 41,000 conference attendees descended on San Francisco at one time, necessitating the distributed meeting halls.

But Oracle's commitment to Java remained strong in Kurian's talk. Oracle's E-Business Suite, Fusion middleware, and rewritten Fusion applications all rely heavily on Java. Oracle executives tout the value of using applications written in Java over competing applications from SAP and other vendors written in the ABAP proprietary language or less frequently used standard languages.

"We want to be crystal clear where we see Java evolving," he said. Oracle will re-architect the Java Virtual Machine into a more modular construction so parts of it can be revised or improved without affecting the other parts.

Modularity will also allow greater ease in assembling a JVM that is suitable to the task, whether it's needed to run an application on a little netbook or a 32-CPU server. Kurian said developers will assemble "a modular subsystem into a JVM that scales from a low-end notebook to high end servers" from one set of parts. "There's no need for a lot of versions," he added.

Oracle is adopting the best features of BEA Systems' JRockit virtual machine, part of its Fusion middleware, into the next version of the JVM, he said. Included will be the MissionControl management console, which creates a visual image of the effectiveness of the JVM's garbage collection. It profiles runtime performance and analyzes the causes of Java thread latencies.

Sun Microsystems, now part of Oracle, has produced a mobile version of the JVM for handheld devices and the capabilities of the JVM will be also expanded to run scripting or dynamic languages, Kurian said.

The Java Development Kit will be enhanced to improve programmer productivity. And the both the language and virtual machine will be optimized to take advantage of changes in new processors. One of the new processors that he might have been referring to was the Sparc T3, a 16-core chip reportedly to be available by the end of the year. Senior VP for hardware John Fowler and other Oracle officials sidestepped naming a date when its arrival would be certain, but rival Intel is currently on its Xeon 7500 and 7600 generation of chips with eight cores.

GlassFish, the reference implementation of a Java Enterprise Edition application server, will be made into a more modular product and meet the standards of OSGi for object construction and interoperability, Kurian said.

The current Java language includes a two-dimensional graphics engine. A future version will include the ability to portray objects in three dimensions. No timeframe for a 3D graphics engine was named.

Oracle has submitted proposals in letters to the Java Community Process executive committees, which oversee Java's ongoing development, on how it sees the JCP organized for the future. It has kept the proposals private, and Kurian said Oracle wants to give the JCP the chance to respond and discuss issues with Oracle before going public, Kurian said.

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