Who Cares About Sun

 
 
By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2007-05-14 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Open-Sourcing Java?"> At some level, whatever Web 2.0 evolves to be, it is what it is. I hate the term because nobody knows what it means. But the core technology thats used all over the place is JavaScript. And its sort of unfortunate where it has ended up, because its kind of the definition of fractured.

People criticized us about being really strict about testing, etc., around Java. And for us one of the big counter examples for why that was important was the way JavaScript has gone. When you look at average pieces of JavaScript code, they [programs] spend a small fraction of the time doing what they want to do and the rest of it is "if Im on Internet Explorer version this then I have to do it that way, and if Im on Safari this or Opera that or Firefox this other thing then I have to do it another way."
And then it sort of ratchets up a level where there are all these libraries that try to unify all the differences. Then there are like libraries of libraries and it becomes deeply meta-circular. And really all of these pieces of complexity are all just about trying to deal with the fact that the platform is screwed up.
But wont we get into that with JavaFX Script? Well, there is no JavaScript there. JavaFX Script is a language that fundamentally compiles to the Java VM [virtual machine]. I mean its not like a whole new language and whole new APIs and all that. Its a really interesting way to drive Swing and Java2D. So all of the rendering libraries that you get with the Java platform … and the ability to animate and all the other stuff that platform offers is all there. All that stuff is just not present in JavaScript.
Are you happy with the open-source direction of Sun and Java? Word was early on you sort of pushed back on it. Graham Hamilton [a former lead architect for Java at Sun] is said to have quit over it. Are you ok with the route the company has taken? Oh, Im really happy with the way things have gone. We have been running this as an almost open-source project since the beginning. Our big issue was around interoperability and consistency. And that was my one nervousness about the open-source world is that the way many open-source things end up going is that they just fracture. And so many of these things end up with 27,000 different versions for no particularly good reason. Also, the license that we had been using was pretty much the Mozilla license with the testing requirement. But it feels like weve gotten to a point where the developer community is strong enough and feels strongly enough about consistency and interoperability and quality that market pressures will keep things on track. And those that try to misbehave will have issues with the market. When the talk began to heat up about Suns plans to possibly open-source Java, I did a column that said Sun plans to open-source Java and I dont care… And for the vast majority of folks the open-sourcing thing is not a big deal at all. In fact we had more people who were negatively concerned about open-sourcing. Probably our single biggest problem with open-sourcing was not freaking out the other half of the world. Java security traps are getting worse. Click here to read more. Because one of the things that people had gotten to really value about Java was all the consistency and interoperability and testing. The fact that you have an institution like NASDAQ running Java at its core…. Do you think, regarding the testing issue, that Apache has a legitimate claim in wanting unfettered access to the TCK [test compatibility kit] without "field of use" restrictions? I dont exactly understand the Apache gripe. You might want to talk to Simon [Phipps, Suns chief open source officer] about that. One of the issues weve had with open-sourcing is that often people try to generalize the open-source community as this one big kumbaya happy family, but in fact its a bunch of warring states. They all have their Great Wall of China and they lob stones back and forth. Thats a perfect description because there are real wars going on. There are real wars. And its really hard to be friendly to the open-source community because if youre friendly to this camp then youre viewed as an enemy by that camp. And one of the things we got stuck on was that we really like the Apache folks, but we also rather liked the GPL guys. And the Apache folks were very angry at us for picking GPL. But we had to pick something. If wed picked the Apache license, the GPL crowd would be upset with us. 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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