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Java: The Unipolar Moment

The fallout resulting from Oracle's acquisition of Sun has been gently settling across the post-apocalyptic IT landscape for a little over a year now and the radiation levels do not appear to be subsiding any time soon. OpenSolaris became Solaris and even OpenOffice spawned a new "truly open" LibreOffice mutant offspring this past weekend.

But what of Java?

Technology analyst James Governor of RedMonk has likened Java's current existence to the invasion of Iraq, where the "debaathification" process would see the sole Java superpower reign with absolute power and share out strategic command across a number of central power centers.

Power in Java is becoming more widely distributed says Governor, "It's easy to be dismissive of the 'C' in JCP, but that's the only part of Java that really matters in the end -- community. Sun was always smart enough to realise that 'innovation happens elsewhere'. Open source governance is no longer a side activity in Java innovation -- it's the very heart of it."

Governor argues that the Eclipse Foundation has always been there to disrupt and enrich the Java ecosystem since its inception -- and that this helped to keep Sun honest and helped to clean up what he describes as some "horrific messes and poor architectural decisions" along the way.

"You may have never heard of The OSGi Alliance, but it essentially makes Java modular. One of the ironies of Scott McNealy's constant screeds against the Windows 'hairball' is that Java became not one, but three, giant hairballs. If Sun really wanted a clean extensible Java that leant itself to reuse and separation of concerns, without unnecessary interdependencies, driving exponential complexity… why didn't Sun fix the modularity problem? Thankfully it didn't need to -- because OSGi provides a mechanism to turn Java into a Stackless Stack where a runtime consists of only the classes needed to run a particular application," says Governor.

Suggesting that Java didn't focus on modularity and neither did Java developers, Governor goes on to explain that Oracle will now use Project Jigsaw to exert its influence on the Java community. Although Project Jigsaw will be designed to build modularity into the core VM -- and is an alternative approach to modularity that essentially competes with the OSGi -- it is estimated that it won't be here until 2012. So it may very well be a case of too little too late.

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