BEA Workshop Business Unit veep Bill Roth takes a long walk down JavaOne memory lane (describing every year of the event since 1996). Feigning to pull no punches (BEA is a sponsor of JavaOne), Roth tries to capture the essence of each year's event with catchy headlines like Mobile Java (again), and "When in doubt, rename it again." and The last of the good times, and then tries to predict what will happen at this coming May's Java lovefest. Writes Roth:
However, if I had to bet on what Sun will announce, I would put my money on them trying copy the work we are doing (again) - this time on Blended.
"Blended" refers to BEA's mixed approach (open source and commercial) to Java deployment. Sun will probably take umbrage at the idea that it's copying BEA. Perhaps Sun has less of a blended approach on the Java front than BEA, but overall, there's probably no other company in the IT business that has gone whole hog on blending the way Sun has. Not only that, long before BEA was going the Eclipse route with its tools, Sun was open sourcing NetBeans (the alternative integrated development environment or IDE to Eclipse). Roth's entry continues:
Since there are a number of Java based environments for languages like PHP and Ruby, my guess is that they will also announce something here as well, unless the Java anti-bodies kick in and kill this off.
This is nothing new. Sun has been talking about being able create Java bytecode from languages other than Java itself for a while. Sun's director of Web technologies Tim Bray wrote about a summit that Sun hosted for that very reason back in December 2004. Wrote Bray:
It’s pretty clear that dynamic languages are a hot area, maybe the hottest, in the world of software development. We need to do more to make them easily usable by people in the Java ecosystem.
There's more from Bray on PHP, replete with many rants from his readers here. In addition to Eclipse, what really could be forcing Sun's hand here is Microsoft. .NET is supported by a bunch of languages. Third parties have dropped other languages in to .NET's dynamic language capabilities. For example, ActiveState has PERL for .Net. And then there's also Microsoft's IronPython move (see Microsoft embarces open source scripting language).
In the bigger picture, heavy Java seems to be getting some heat from light Java and it will be interesting to see what Sun does with that. What's heavy Java? That's where you need to power your Java apps with a full-blown red blooded J2EE server. Light Java is where you bypass the need for an application server and take a more lightweight approach to deploying Java; for example the servlet approach advocated by folks like Cape Clear's Annrai O'Toole and the open source-based SASH stack ( Spring, Apache Axis, Apache Struts, and Hibernate) pixie dust that ex-BEAer Byron Sebastian (now heading up SourceLabs) is spreading around.
BEA tends to be pretty plugged in though. So, my guess is you will see announcements along the lines of what Roth wrote about. What we may not see much of are announcements from Sun's competitors on the eve of JavaOne. There was a time where IBM was good for some sort of annual attempt (just before JavaOne started) to dislodge Sun from the head of the Java table. That said, if this year's event is anything like last year's JavaOne (see JavaOne Scoreboard: Who Eclipsed whom?), The Eclipse Foundation, much to the chagrin of NetBeans, will likely pick up some momentum as more companies line up in support of it. Expect the Eclipse folks to make hay. Perhaps providing some counter to Eclipse's momentum, NetBeans will have some thunder of its own (I have no idea what) and it remains to be seen who will be buying whom dinner in January 2007. We'll know more after JavaOne.