Monday, April 12

James Gosling leaves Oracle

There's not really much good that can be inferred from Gosling leaving Oracle and his comments don't do anything but solidify that inference. 

"As to why I left, it's difficult to answer: Just about anything I could say that would be accurate and honest would do more harm than good," he said.

Really?  This doesn't give me great hope for the direction Oracle is steering Java.  If mod_plsql is any indication as to what an Oracle influence on a programming language would be I think those of us who make a living writing Java code may want to start expanding our horizons with more urgency.  

In my opinion, as long as they leave the JVM alone they can have the language.  As more and more alternatives come along, the language itself seems like a detail.  It's one of the reasons I think Microsoft's decision to chase after Java with C# is fruitless because they are chasing a dying language.  Dying... but far from dead as so many others are quick to call it.  Java is used in almost every sector of every business world-wide.  Languages like that don't just die.  Disagree?  Why then are people still writing new applications in Cobol?  I believe that there are some businesses that will still be using Java about 20 years from now.  However, for better or worse, the fact that Oracle has their hands in it means it's going to change... somehow.  More and more it seems like those changes don't jive well with the old guard from Sun.


Unknown said...

I am inclined to agree with you on many of your points, but want to add that I wouldn't expect a Gosling to stay in that role for long regardless. He's an innovator. He will go innovate. I did find his parting comment funny in that he basically said things will go badly without saying it.

In my more optimistic moments I am inclined to believe Java really has a life of its own. (No argument that this life is showing its age, but yes like Cobol and C, not going away due to cost of change and its ubiquity). Especially now that it is open sourced, Oracle has to be careful not to diverge so much from the community direction as to splinter or dilute their shiny new acquisition.

With regards to the JVM, I like that thought but would actually question whether even their ability to alter that is all that relevant when you have other JVM implementations that can easily become dominant if they screw things up. Perhaps we can hope that the core principals of Java combined with its new openness are still a well conceived force to be reckoned with when faced with the ills of corporate tampering.

To be sure, Oracle will change things. No doubt they will focus on efforts that will give their products competitive advantage when combined with Java. What will be interesting is whether Oracle has the ability to restrain itself from alienating itself from a development community that is already evolving beyond Java. History (Toplink) doesn't bode well for them, but time alone will tell.

Michael Nishizawa said...

I'm not sure I believe Oracle has any commitment at all to the community... although I think you're right as far as the JVM. There's enough projects that rely on the JVM now that I think it is probably safe. Oracle may bring ensuing versions in-house, but I don't think it would be in their best interest to do so.

Of course, it wouldn't be the first time a company thought it was in their best interest to close-source a project and have it die on them.