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: Oracle has been in charge of Java for not quite five and a half years. What does the 20th anniversary of Java mean for Oracle?
Saab: We've tried to shepherd things along and make sure the community continues to be vibrant and engaged and moving the technology forward. Oracle as a company, of course, is a huge user of Java, so we're quite pleased to be celebrating this milestone and for Java to be where it is as we're reaching the 20-years-young mark and looking forward to the next 20 years.
Java's major milestones
InfoWorld: What do you see as the major milestones in Java's 20 years of existence?
Saab: You can go back and look at the different major releases that have come out, and you can see early on a period of starting out with a vision of Java and what it could be and, of course, prior to the initial release that was sort of a technology [envisioned] as something that could be used in set-top boxes and other kinds of embedded devices.
In its fledgling period, the class library and so on were fairly small and were really getting built out, so it was popular as the Web was starting to take off with how it could be used, for instance, in the browser.
From the initial maturation and expansion of the libraries into the form it is today, really the largest release from that perspective was 1.2. Then I think the introduction of EE [Enterprise Edition], which was quite a big milestone.
Where Java is heading
InfoWorld: What's coming up for Java? We had functional programming capabilities in Java 8, and you have modularity in Java 9. Is there a road map for Java that we haven't already heard about?
Saab: You can go and look at the OpenJDK JEP (JDK Enhancement Proposal) process page, and that lists all of the [proposals] out there with ideas that are being discussed.
A few of the JEPs that have been proposed are around the major area of better layout for Java object in memory. Basically, there's a very interesting project called Valhalla, which is looking at value type for Java. This is essentially doing something that is in between Java primitive and Java object.
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