Thinking


The view from here

Free Java!

By BKV in Analytics & Information on September 23rd, 2010

As a software engineer for BKV, I've worked with a number of programming languages, from Java to.NET. But I've done most projects with Java. Java is an open source language that has for years been supported and enhanced by Sun Microsystems, Inc. I started writing in Java back during the scary times when systems worldwide were cutting over to the year 2000 and everyone was certain that all the computers would fail, civilization would collapse, and the earth would split in two, or variations to that effect. But nothing did happen and I've been contentedly writing Java code ever since. Over the years, Java developers have grown to trust Sun Microsystems as they've molded and improved the language. So it was with a little surprise that I read that Sun Microsystems was being bought by Oracle last year. There is always some doubt about the intentions of a new player in the game when a software development tool of such importance is involved. And I've heard the stories of Oracle being very much a for-profit organization, meaning we'd all be paying through the nose for Java like everyone does for Oracle database licensing. James Gosling himself, the father of Java, even seemed to panic a little and began selling T-shirts and buttons to "Just Free It!" java free But Oracle declared themselves a "steward of Java technology with a relentless commitment to fostering a community of participation and transparency" and nothing happened for several months and I began to relax, hopeful that Oracle was either committed to keeping Java as it was, or they were too busy with their very nice database system they run on the side, or maybe they were so disorganized by the acquisition that they had just lost Java somewhere in a back storage room. Whatever the reason, Java developers were, apparently, safe. Then last month Oracle sued Google. The reasoning, officially, was that "in developing Android, Google knowingly, directly and repeatedly infringed Oracle's Java-related intellectual property. This lawsuit seeks appropriate remedies for their infringement." Those of us with considerable stake in the matter became certain however that Oracle wanted to get their money's worth out of Java and, for us, indentured servitude was just around the corner, followed by the collapse of civilization and the earth splitting into fourths, since this was a much bigger deal than that ridiculous year 2000 thing (to us, anyway). Now that I've had some time to think about it though, even if Oracle wins and Android is radically altered somehow, which I don't see happening, Java will survive. Oracle won't want to drive programmers away to something else like, say, Microsoft's .NET. Even if it's with a different name like "coffee", "cappuccino", or "super extra latte mocha", under new "stewardship", the basics of Java language continue and developers remain relatively unscathed. But until I know for sure, I will be watching out for large planet-spanning fissures in the earth. Anyone else notice all the earthquakes and volcanic eruptions going on in the last year? Yeah, they're probably caused by Java, no doubt about it.