Oracle today held a global webcast to celebrate the first release candidate of JDK7. Key new features will include several relatively subtle improvements, as well as a better level of suitability for multicore-driven parallelism in programming structures resulting from the Fork/Join framework (JSR 166y).
As "thousands" of onlookers tuned in to Oracle's live online Java-fest broadcast from Redwood City, California, Java chief architect Mark Reinhold kicked off with an unfortunately phrased comment saying that the most significant thing about the new release was that, "We're finally shipping it!"
After what is around five years since the release of Java 6, the new version was not lauded as "ground breaking" by its own development team gurus. Indeed, Reinhold was heard to say, "We all know that for various business and political reasons, this release has taken some time."
Describing this release as more "evolution than revolution", Reinhold hinted that the most notable addition is JSR 203, which relates to the new I/O APIs. "We finally have a real file system API that will let you do things like manipulate symbolic links and access filesystem-specific operations," he said.
This release candidate is said to feature 13 major changes since the time of the last build and roughly half of these are described as "administrative" in nature. However, there is also JSR 292, which supports dynamically typed languages on the JVM.
New "showstopper" features include fixes to several hard VM crashes and a JIT correctness bug with its roots in Eclipse. Although the Java team arguably showed its lack of media-friendly finesse in terms of delivery, enthusiasm for the language and platform and brutal honesty probably won the day with the majority of onlookers.
In Oracle's own words, the JDK 7 release is, "A large-scale effort to refactor, or break up, the Java SE platform into smaller, separate, interdependent modules. Individual modules can then be downloaded as required by the Java virtual machine and/or Java applications. This effectively shrinks the size of the runtime on the user's machine."
"One benefit of modularization is that the platform is a smaller download, potentially improving start-up performance. Having a smaller memory footprint also enables significant performance improvements, especially for desktop applications. A smaller platform also means it can now fit on devices with less memory," said the company on its developer web portal zone.