Friday, 27 November 2015

Java to become legacy-ware?

Someone announced on a mailing list for one of the Smalltalks that:
InfoWorld received an Tuesday (24th November 2015), supposedly from a former high-ranking Java official, which claimed to feature details from inside Oracle.

It said the company was becoming a cloud company, competing with Salesforce, and “Java has no interest to them anymore.” The subject line cited “Java – planned obsolescence.”

Oracle is not interested in empowering its competitors and doesn’t want to share innovation, the email further alleges. The company is slimming down Java EE (Enterprise Edition), but it also doesn’t want anyone else to work on Java or Java EE and is sidelining the JCP (Java Community Process).

“They have a winner-take-all mentality and they are not interested in collaborating,” said the email. “Proprietary product work will be done on WebLogic, and there’ll be a proprietary microservices platform.” WebLogic is the Java application server Oracle acquired when it bought BEA Systems in 2008.

But, there is still no official indication from Oracle. For instance, no press-releases. 

( )


If Oracle did make this statement, then it's true - this is not a magic bullet to that will suddenly make the Smalltalk community massive.  BUT...

Java got about 40% of its initial momentum from IBM dumping VisualAge Smalltalk and putting all their resources into Java.

Oracle are targetting this move at IBM more than anyone else.

IBM will start to think about how to migrate from Java - as Oracle are telling them they will have to.  (It's OUR bat and its OUR ball, and no-one else can play with it.  Not even the Java Community).  And IBM's coders do not pay for Java, Eclipse users do not pay for Java. I expect the licence-fee income for JREs in the corporate multi-tier app world is small.

Oracle are announcing one of two things.  Either 

  1. Java is for sale to device providers - makers of phones or of devices for the impending Internet of Things

    (Google would be an obvious buyer for Java, given how fundamental Java is to Android.  And the Internet of Things is precisely what Java was originally designed for. )

  2. no-one making an internet of things offering should consider Java.

Google would be an obvious buyer for Java, given how fundamental Java is to Android.  And the Internet of Things is precisely what Java was originally designed for. 

Yes, things live on and on in a kind of zombie state.  So yes, things live on as long as their ecosystem does.  And they gently wither as their ecosystem withers, and it's a long slow drawn out spiral.  Which is why we still have Cobol.

People and organisations tend to move from one technology to another in an incremental fashion.  Swapping a little bit here, and a little bit there.

The new target platforms are ones which
1) look like they have longevity, and
2) have a migration pathway that provides incremental steps.

Offering a compelling  advantage is good - but only if the steps 1) and 2) are catered to.

Smalltalk still has a loyal following in the large-scale corporate software market. The world's largest bank started work on new trading systems in Smalltalk earlier this month.

IBM VisualAge Smalltalk is still robust, commercially available software, (albeit now sold by Instantiations rather than IBM).  CinCom VisualWorks and Gemstone/S also continue to represent Smalltalk out to the big world of corporate development.

So that's a start.

Say only 5% of the Java world moves away from Java each year, as a result of this announcement.

We *should* wish to take advantage of this announcement.

After all, think about the difference that having even 0.01% of the world's Java coders moving to Smalltalk would make.    How could we help that happen?

Think what it would be like to have thought-leaders like Kent Beck and Ward Cunningham back in the Smalltalk fold.  How could we help that happen?

Think what it would be like to get back all the universities who used to teach OO concepts using Smalltalk, but which moved into teaching them via Java. Currently, we know almost all the universities using Smalltalk as a teaching language by name.  Does anyone know even how many universities teach OO via Java?    What would it be like if 5% of those universities moved to Smalltalk each year.   How could we help that happen?

Next - do we have any big brained thinkers who can see specific ways we can improve interoperation between Java facilities and libraries and the Smalltalks?  For the next 12 months, we should work on Java integration, rather than C/C++ integration.  We should identify the three best things for us to do in this regard,  and make them polished and compelling.    Who is in a position to help that happen?

The final way we can take advantage help the maximum number of people find their way to us is to present a united community front to the outside world.  In the same way I am both a European and a Scot, we need to be Smalltalkers *and* members of our individual Smalltalk-platform communities.

How can we help make that happen?

This is not a silver bullet. It's going to cause a long-term trend in events, not a sudden abrupt change.   But it will have a real, if gradual effect.  (Assuming, of course, that the rumour is well-founded).

Equally, it is not something we should ignore.  It is something we should make use of.  We need to put effort into raising our profile over the next 6 months, ready for the moment that Oracle makes this official.

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