​Oracle pledges continued support for Java and NetBeans

Java experts have questioned Oracle's support for Java, but Oracle swears it's fully behind Java Enterprise Edition and NetBeans.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Last week, Oracle disowned NetBeans. The company announced it was turning its Java-based NetBeans over to the Apache Software Foundation. Now, Oracle is changing its tune on both NetBeans and Java Enterprise Edition (JEE).

Developer at work

Oracle swears it's still fully supporting Java and NetBeans.

Oh, don't get me wrong. Oracle still doesn't want to manage NetBeans. But Oracle claims it's not just dumping the NetBeans integrated developer environment (IDE) code. In an email, Bill Pataky, VP of Oracle Mobile Development Program and Developer Tools, told me, "Oracle is opening the governance model of NetBeans, not dropping support. Oracle has three products that depend on NetBeans." These are:

  • Oracle Developer Studio, our commercial C, C++, Fortran, and Java development environment is 100 percent based on NetBeans
  • Oracle JDeveloper, our end-to-end development for Oracle's technology stack takes major subsystems from NetBeans
  • Oracle JavaScript Extension Toolkit, our modular open-source toolkit based on modern JavaScript, CSS3, and HTML5 design and development principles uses NetBeans as its preferred IDE."

Pataky continued, "Oracle has 26 developers registered as committers at Apache and we expect this number to grow. As to how long we will continue to staff the project, we can say at least two releases which is as far as our planning horizon goes at this point."

A bigger issue than how strong Oracle's support is for NetBeans is how firmly do they stand behind JEE period full stop.

James Gosling, Java's inventor and briefly Oracle's CTO of client software, has had his doubts.

Gosling left Oracle not long after Oracle acquired Sun in 2009 because he felt "pretty burned out and trashed," by how Oracle was managing Java.

Over the years, Gosling saw little reason to hope Oracle's Java policies would change for the better. This summer, Gosling and other JEE leaders started a group called Java EE Guardians. They believe that "Oracle is conspicuously neglecting Java EE, weakening a very broad ecosystem that depends on strong Java EE development ... A very troubling possibility is that it is being done because Oracle is backing away from an open-standards based collaborative development approach and is instead pursuing a highly proprietary, unilateral path."

Oracle may still be taking JEE down a proprietary path, but at least the company is finally showing some plans for JEE and other Java-related technologies.

At JavaOne, Oracle's Java conference, Anil Gaur, an Oracle group VP of engineering, admitted that Java EE 8 is behind schedule. "We're in the middle of some re-planning because not everything we proposed [in Java Specification Requests (JSRs) 366] is equally relevant now. Once we get feedback, we'll finalize that. Our goal is to finalize and ship sometime next year."

Gaur's comments only underline much more work it will take to get JEE 8 out the door. Gaur complained, without mentioning Oracle's lack of leadership, that while Oracle is "pleased to see JEE adopted in clouds, and also to see that many vendors have started to use EE application programming interfaces (APIs) to develop micro-services applications, they are doing so in their own way and, lacking a standard in this space, it's impossible to ensure compatibility and portability".

In addition, Oracle wants JEE 8 to add in REST (representational state transfer-based) services. Gaur continued, "Cloud services are exposed as REST and communicate asynchronously using JavaScript Object Notation (JSON). We are also seeing more and more use of NoSQL datastores." Last, but not least, JEE will include container support as well.

That's a heck of a lot to add to a project that's already been delayed for years.

At least Oracle's is talking the good talk about NetBeans and JEE. Now we must see if they'll walk the walk as well.

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