Report: Apache Foundation may exit Java Community Process

Major Java supporter threatens pullout; in the meantime, analyst report says Java's future is murky.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

I remember a time when the whole world seemed to be uniting behind Java. I was at the IBM news conference in 1995 when IBM VP John Patrick first announced IBM was lining up behind Sun's multi-platform upstart language.

These days, dissension and doubts seem to abound. The Register's Gavin Clarke, for example, just revealed that while it appears that members of the independent Java Community Process (JCP) have approved Oracle's roadmap for the language, the Apache Software Foundation may be pulling out of the JCP's governing body.

(UPDATE December 10 2010:  It's official, Apache is out, says InformationWeek's Charles Babcock.)

Gavin reports that "with 75 per cent of qualifying Java Community Process members having voted on whether to ratify Oracle's proposed roadmap for Java 7 and 8, Oracle's plan has been accepted." However, word is that Apache Software Foundation and Google voted against Oracle's roadmap. The Apache Foundation, in fact, said last month that it may "terminate" its relationship with the JCP if its implementation rights were to be restricted.

What's at issue?  We know that Oracle is suing Google over its interpretation of Java in the Android mobile operating system. Apache has been a JCP member for 10 years, and is home to a number of open-source Java projects. However, Gavin reports, Oracle has not granted Apache's Project Harmony a license to use the Java Test Compatibility Kit (TCK), meaning that Harmony can't be tested for compatibility with the official standard. Harmony is an open source and free implementation of Java Standard Edition (SE).

For its part, Oracle says it has been "a leading and substantive supporter of Java since its emergence in 1995 and takes on the new role as steward of Java technology with a relentless commitment to fostering a community of participation and transparency."

Does the dissension within JCP mean the fragmentation of Java?  Adding to the pain Java advocates may be experiencing, Forrester's Mike Gualtieri recently published a piece that alleges "Java has served its purpose, but now it is time to move forward."

Current tussles between Oracle and other participants within the JCP aside, we've seen a number of predictions about the demise of Java and the Java Platform (especially Java Enterprise Edition) over the years. But the cross-platform language and accompanying framework still remain the foundation of many enterprise application sets.

Mike says Java has a number of issues that hold it back, such as the perception that the Java Platform is overly complex, and the fact that Java is a 20 year old language based on C++. "Is this really the best way to develop enterprise business applications?" he asks. He also chides efforts such as Swing (a "nightmare") and JavaFX (a "failure").

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