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Java at 20: Its successes, failures, and future

Paul Krill | May 21, 2015
Although Java was developed at Sun Microsystems, Oracle has served as the platform's steward since acquiring Sun in early 2010. During that time, Oracle has released Java 7 and Java 8, with version 9 due up next year. InfoWorld Editor at Large Paul Krill recently spoke to Oracle's Georges Saab, vice president of software development for the Java Platform Group, about the occasion of Java's 20th anniversary.

InfoWorld: What else might we look forward to in Java in upcoming years?

Saab: Another area that looks very promising is a new version of the Java Native Interface, which allows for being able to share data structures between Java and native code [such as C or C++] and basically making it simpler and easier to call in between different languages.

InfoWorld: Where do you see Java in five years or 10 years or maybe even 20 years?

Saab: We're certainly excited about where things are going in terms of the Internet of things. Java has a lot to offer there in helping to take a fairly fragmented space and making it simpler for developers to begin to explore. In many ways, some of the challenges that exist there today are similar or even more so than the environment that Java initially came into and became popular in.

We have the added challenge in that space of end-to-end systems, where you have a device, you may have a gateway, then you have some kind of back-end cloud service to deal with all this, and Java is one of the few technologies that can quite gracefully span all the way across this environment and promise a single solution that is really easy for people to get into.

Java's biggest disappointments

InfoWorld: What would you say are the biggest disappointments of Java over the past 20 years?

Saab: There was quite a challenging period there after JDK 6, where it took quite a long time until we got to the point of doing Java 7 and so on. To some extent, that can be explained by some of the economic challenges that we were going through at the time but also because there was quite a good deal of time and attention being paid to taking the code base for the JDK and opening it up and forming OpenJDK.

It was disappointing in the sense that it took a long for the next major release to come out, but at the end of the day, that's part of what resulted in the OpenJDK community that we have today and dedicated 7 and 8 coming out as they did.

InfoWorld: Oracle has had a lot of issues with security in Java. Does Oracle have that under control or is it still a big problem?

Saab: Security is something that we always take seriously, and it's something that you need to remain ever-vigilant about. I think that we've done a good job investing in both our capability in dealing with issues that come up but also in addressing things proactively, making sure we have good processes in place so that new features we develop are reviewed from a security standpoint and are as good as they can be as they come out.


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