A Technologist Who Speaks Business


5 years ago
How to Kill a Language, One Small Step at a Time

I honestly don’t believe there is any collective, purposeful, evil intent at Oracle when it comes to Java.   But their actions since the merger with Sun sure make it seem that way.  Oracle is killing Java, one cut at a time.

The first big shot across the bow was Oracle suing Google over Android.  Even if Google did something wrong legally, it was still a stupid move.  After many other companies failed to get Java to thrive on phones (it’s been there for years, it just was clunky and had no developer community), Google finally succeeded with the first plausible challenger to the iPhone.  And, on top of it, the Android community is much more open which attracts even more developers.  So a thriving Android community can only be a good thing for Oracle, even if they don’t get licensing revenue from the runtime.  But the suit demonstrates that Oracle just doesn’t get it.

Then, there was JavaOne.  I covered it for InfoQ, but since we try to stay pretty neutral I didn’t say what I really thought: it was awful.  I’ve never been a fan of JavaOne because it’s too big, too much of a hassle, and too full of vendors.  But this year was even worse.  Adding it to the rest of the Oracle conference took it from merely too big to an absolute zoo.  And, it watered down the Java bit to just another Oracle add-on.  The biggest display in Moscone center, the one that took up the entire entry way when you came in, was about Larry’s yacht, and not technology.  Apollo Ohno was a speaker, as if any of us cared.  And the place was absolutely buzzing with “suits”.  The whole conference had Larry’s ego all over it.

Then James Gosling left, which isn’t a material impact on Java, but it is a symbolic one.

And now the Hudson flap is the last straw for me.  Here, Oracle took a fantastic, thriving open source project that doesn’t produce any revenue, and is squashing it over a pidily infrastructure tiff.  And they’re doing it in the worst way, by saying, basically, “I know this infrastructure is behind the curve, but we dictate that you should just suck it and use it anyway because we own the trademark.  So there.”  I can’t think of a faster way to kill a community that’s contributing freely.

Just get a clue please Oracle.  I’ve invested a lot of time in Java and would hate have to walk away from it completely.  As it is, I’m already steering greenfield stuff towards Ruby.  Maybe I should follow Nikita’s advice and learn Scala.

♦ End

5 thoughts on “How to Kill a Language, One Small Step at a Time

  1. Tim – you’re right. It’s all a bit ridiculous, isn’t it? I too have invested 10+ years in the Java platform and since Oracle took over Java, things have gone south in a hurry.

    Re: learning Scala – given that it’s still a language hosted on the JVM, isn’t it still a target for Oracle’s lawyers?

  2. Kirk: I don’t think Scala *must* have a JVM. It can be compiled to Java byte code, but it can also be compiled to .Net. I think (but haven’t learned enough to know) that it has its own runtime that happens to be able to read Java byte code (and thus use Java libraries)


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