Java 8 Lambdas Set the Tone for New Development

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2014-03-18 Print this article Print

Gil Tene, CTO of Azul Systems, which builds Java runtime systems for business, said language enhancements alone make Java 8 a strong release.

“Java 8 is a very interesting new version for developers," Tene said. "It has more features that matter to developers than any version of Java since Java 5, which introduced Generics. So I think people will be shifting to it faster. Lambda expressions are a key improvement to the language and I think it will help to drive Java 8 into the app platform quickly.”

"The biggest feature of Java 8 is the lambda expressions or closures," said Miko Matsumura, vice president of marketing and developer relations at Hazelcast. "This is the biggest change to the Java language since the beginning; it introduces concepts from functional programming. Closures have long been a part of functional languages like LISP and ML."

Matsumura, who spent four years as the chief evangelist for the Java platform at Sun Microsystems, added, "Pretty much all of the lambda expression functionality was already available in Scala, plus other capabilities. However, the addition of this capability in Java allows Java to modernize and to stave off some of the leakage of programmers to things like Scala."

Moreover, from a libraries perspective, "the top things developers are excited about include things like new concurrency APIs. This is a big deal because of the trend towards massive parallelization."

Also, consistent with the evolution of Java is the emphasis on readability, as more time and money is spent reading and understanding code than is spent writing it, Matsumura told eWEEK.

In addition to new security features and enhancements, other new features in Java 8 include Type Annotations, which provide the ability to apply an annotation anywhere a type is used, not just on a declaration. Used with a pluggable type system, this feature enables improved type checking of your code.

There also is a new Date & Time API, which is a set of packages that provide a comprehensive date-time model.

There is new JavaScript support in the form of Nashorn, a lightweight, high-performance JavaScript runtime written in 100 percent pure Java, native on the JVM, that enables Java developers to embed JavaScript in Java applications.

The new Compact Profiles feature includes predefined subsets of the Java SE platform that enable applications that do not require the entire platform to be deployed and run on small devices.

Oracle also made usability improvements in Java Mission Control 5.3, which enables Java administrators and developers to more easily gather detailed low level information about how the JVM and the Java application are behaving.

And enhancements to JavaFX include an embedded specific graphics stack, new UI controls, a Modena theme, functionality to enable developers to embed Swing content into JavaFX applications, new 3D graphics features and additional HTML5 support.

"Over 400 of the more than 8,000 bug and enhancement issues addressed in JDK 8 were reported externally," said Mark Reinhold, chief architect of the Java Platform Group at Oracle, in a blog post on the GA release of JDK 8. "These reports came in throughout the release cycle, enabled by our regular posting of weekly builds, but naturally the rate increased after we posted the Developer Preview build in September."

Azul's Tene said he hopes for the best with Java 8, particularly that developer begin to work with it early and "beat it up" to help get any kinks out.

Overall, he said Java 8 represents a good compromise by Oracle and the Java world. "I think they made the right compromise," Tene said. ”Modularity was sacrificed and moved onto the next release, but that was just time management," he added, referring to the modularity capabilities of Project Jigsaw, which will be in Java 9.

The goal of Project Jigsaw is to design and implement a standard module system for the Java SE Platform, and to apply that system to the platform itself and to the JDK.

"The team has done an excellent job pulling this together after so many years, especially given the ramp up on security investments," IDC's Hilwa said. "Overall, Oracle has demonstrated good stewardship when you consider the needed investments and that all this goes into open source."

Although Java 8 was officially released on March 18, Oracle will host a major webcast on March 25 to formally launch the technology.


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