It looks like it’s full steam ahead for Java. The next two versions of the Java Standard Edition, Java SE 7 and 8, were officially given the green light in a vote by the Java Community Process executive committee (JCP EC) this week. In addition, two other proposed specifications were approved, paving the way to add further new features to the Java language and class libraries.
But not everyone is pleased with the outcome. The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) has long contended that development of Java cannot go forward until Oracle addresses its licensing terms, which the ASF argues are hostile to open source implementations of the Java platform. That’s a breach of Oracle’s obligations to maintain Java as a free and open standard, the ASF says, per the terms of the Java Specification Participation Agreement.
Several other JCP EC members — including Crédit Suisse, the Eclipse Foundation, Google, IBM, and SAP — concurred with the ASF’s complaints during the recent vote. Although only Google went as far as to cast a no vote, the others amended their votes with comments to the effect that their approval was based on the technical merits of the specs only and that they were similarly concerned with the ongoing licensing debate.
To independent JCP EC member Tim Peierls, the fact that so many members approved the specifications when such important legal issues remained unresolved was deeply troubling. “To my own surprise, I’m coming to believe something heretical: that it actually is not all that crucial for Java to move forward,” Peierls wrote in a recent blog post. “We are whipped to a frenzy with messages (both subliminal and explicit) that Java is falling behind, losing mind share, being lapped by C#, anything to sell the idea that more is desperately needed, when in fact most folks could make do with a lot less.”