A primary concern with any technology choice, in particular foundational components, is the ownership pedigree and patterns. Longevity of software development investments can be volatile and exposed if core components are dependent upon proprietary ownership (e.g. Adobe Flex). Accordingly, when Oracle acquired Sun, the blogosphere was lit up with concern about Java’s future, despite evidence of a strong commitment to Java via some investment patterns (e.g. BEA Systems acquisition). With very little doubt as to the power and capabilities of Java relative to its fit with Banner’s evolution, I have to admit, I was very uneasy about the turmoil created by Oracle’s move, bringing sufficient uncertainty to Java’s future.
Fears were fueled when James Gosling left Oracle, and the lack of direction on things like OpenSolaris, (which ultimately killed the project) provided the skeptics with reason to believe the open culture in the Java community was about to change dramatically. In frustration, communities began to break away to control their own destinies, such as Hudson which split to form the Jenkins continuous integration project. Certainly, the legal drama contributed to the fears, such as when Oracle sued Google for its use of Java in Android. And if those events weren’t enough, Google was a no-show at JavaOne, sessions were cancelled, mass confusion ensued, dogs and cats living together (Ghost Busters) and releases of defect-laden Java software seemed to underscore the lack of focus (e.g. Java 7 had serious defects Oracle knew about prior to release).
Thankfully, (and with the benefit of hindsight) those early issues appear to be long-gone at this stage. Scores of key features, tools and innovations in Java have been added or redone and brought to light. A strong push to new platforms (e.g. ARM and iOS) gives additional confidence to Java’s continued relevancy, and a robust roadmap shows the commitment to the future (e.g. JDK 8’s Lambda project, JDK 9’s modularity and the footprint optimization of J2EE promised). And finally, it came full circle for me when Gosling revised his opinion regarding Oracle’s stewardship of Java, exclaiming that Oracle has been good for Java, and the Android platform won the lawsuit against it, paving the future for Java adoption with that OS (of course we’d be a bit naive if we thought the battles between Oracle and Google are over, nevertheless it’s a good thing to see such fantastic adoption of Java in mobile).
Although certain areas still need to improve (e.g. Java Community Process and the Open Source Software communities), it’s clear that Oracle is continuing the development of the language, and it’s encouraging that adoption continues to rise with new platforms providing whitespace for the curve.
There you have it, the foundational technology choices of Banner XE and the background behind them. These are clear and stable choices, providing confidence as we move Banner forward, into the Extensible Ecosystem (XE).