Losing Years to Lawsuits

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2005-07-15 Print this article Print

Yesterday you and [Sun Distinguished Engineer] Tim Lindholm both said the Microsoft legal suits had taken a lot out of your workaday lives. How much of an impact did it have, and how much do you think you could have accomplished if it had not occurred? Its hard to speculate. I lost at least two years out of my life. And as incredibly massive bits of tedium that just suck the life out of you, court cases are unexcelled.
We were able to keep the set of people that had the life sucked out of them to a reasonably small list, but for the set of us that were in there it was pretty serious.
Will we see a fully conformant open-source implementation of Java SE from Sun? Well, there are lots of different answers. One is, "Beats the hell out of me." You never know what the future will bring. One would be, "You know were there yet, were there already." If you look at the way that we interact with the community, the way that we have all of our sources out there, we have a lot of people from the community that contribute the way any open-source projects do. Really the major thing thats an obstacle to truly being open source is the nits in our license about testing. And having our license require testing disqualifies us from the religious blessing of the open-source community. And yet the licenses that say you "must" make your stuff free, thats OK. Having anal clauses like you must make your stuff free, thats OK, but when I say, "You must test," thats not OK. I dont know why theres that religious divide. Its deeply mysterious. And when we talk to Java developers and big sites that use Java, interoperability and reliability of these systems are really, really important to them. Right. But do you think that theres a possibility someone else could do it? Oh, theres certainly a possibility. Well, what kind of disadvantage would that put Sun in? I dont think it would make a whole lot of difference. When you look at the J2ME world, there are dozens and dozens of compatible, interoperable JVMs [Java Virtual Machines] out there. But of course they all do the testing. We have a test suite, and they all run that. And like the Harmony folks at Apache, they say theyre going to run through the tests. If they do that, thats OK. I noticed theres some Ajax component for Java Studio Creator 2. What are your thoughts on Ajax? Read more here about Ajax. Its pretty interesting. Its really just very subtle use of JavaScript on the client side and some adjunct components on the server side that seed it. Sometimes you have to treat JavaScript that way, because you really dont want that many people really writing JavaScript code. Tragically, thats not so much because JavaScript is hard, but because there are so many different variants of JavaScript. And between Microsofts and everybody elses theres a huge divide in behavior. And so while if you look at the JavaScript spec, creating JavaScript code that works according to that spec is relatively straightforward. Given that that spec has no notion of conformance or testing, actually getting a piece of JavaScript code to run on all different browsers is really hard. And in some sense the whole JavaScript experience is something that really drives us with the whole Java license experience. If you arent really careful about interoperability you get a nightmare very quickly. So the nice thing about Ajax is it encapsulates the nightmare and it makes that easy to use. Whats your take on Suns Coyote project [to foster the use of dynamic languages with Java]? I think thats actually pretty cool. Most of these people have been pretty successful doing these dynamic languages on top of the JVM. I think its pretty amazing that it has worked as well as it has. As to exactly where that thing is going to go … Im in general a big fan of dynamic languages. Java is sort of an unusual design. On the one hand Im a real fan of dynamic languages; on the other hand Im a real fan of performance. So the static languages tend to get better performance than the dynamic languages. And so I wanted to come up with a system that would have as much dynamic language behavior as possible while being able to have C and C++ level performance. And thats actually worked out pretty well. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis in programming environments and developer tools.

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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