2019-09-08: Thoughts On August Austin JUG Meeting

The most recent Austin JUG meeting was on August 27: “The Evolution of Java and the Developer Community with Heather VanCura“.

A big chunk of the talk was about the JCP, how it has been streamlined, and how to get involved. She did talk about the future of Java, as well as mention some of the sub-projects withing OpenJDK. She mentioned Valhalla, which is about developing general language features, Panama, which will make connecting with native code easier, and Loom, which will make concurrency easier to use.

In addition to lighter threads, Loom will have continuations and tail-call elimination. I think this is another data point in support of my thesis that languages are becoming more like Lisp, and the industry has been expending a lot of time re-inventing the wheel.

I think she mentioned that they are moving a lot of projects from Mercurial to git.

A lot of the questions afterward were about the support model for Oracle JDK vs OpenKDK and binary compatibility between code compiled with different versions of the JDK. There were some questions about getting involved in the JCP and contributing to a JSR, but not as many as more technical questions. From what I remember, she had more information about JCP/JSR questions than other topics. Maybe Oracle needs to send someone out to talk about support and binary compatibility.

She said there were some organizations running on JDK 4 and earlier, which only made me feel slight less depressed that I did before.

Someone asked if other JVM languages were involved in the JCP. She said yes, but the only one that popped into her mind was JRuby, which was also depressing. I still think JRuby is a solution looking for a problem. If you want a dynamic, agile scripting language on the JVM, use Groovy. That is what it was invented for. Java devs using JRuby are jumping though a bunch of hoops they do not have to jump through just to impress their Ruby friends. Sort of like CNN hiring conservative whack jobs to grab some of Fox’s audience; it’s just not worth it. Besides, mixing chocolate and peanut butter might sound great in a Reese’s Pieces commercial. That does not mean it is a good idea all the time.

I have noticed a trend that when people give presentations about why they picked a particular JVM language, Groovy is rarely on the list. I have seen Ceylon get more attention. When I ask people why Groovy was not on their list, they say they have never heard of if. I always think, “If that is any indication how good you are at due diligence, it’s a good think you’re not a lawyer.”

But I digress. Tomorrow is the Austin Clojure meetup. A few of the Clojure people were there. They might show up tomorrow and offer some opinions. She also gave this talk to the Houston JUG the next day. I might email a few people and get their opinion.

Bottom line: Good talk, but I don’t think the things she spent the most time covering are the questions that Java developers and organizations are most concerned with. If you are a Java developer, things like binary compatibility and support will determine what JDK you use for development and deployment. But you do not need to be involved in the JCP.

You’re welcome.

Image from the Urgell Beatus, a 10th century manuscript of ‘Commentary on the Apocalypse‘, written in the 8th century by Beatus of Liébana; image from Arachne, licensed under Creative Commons License (BY-NC-ND 3.0).

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