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Oracle Announces the JDK 7 Developer Preview but Licensing Concerns Persist

by Charles Humble on Feb 24, 2011 |

Mark Reinhold has announced that the JDK 7 Developer Preview build (milestone 12) is now available

This milestone is intended for broad testing by developers, deployers, and end users. We've run all tests on all supported platforms and haven't found any glaring issues. We've also fixed 456 bugs since reaching the Feature-Complete milestone back in January.

The majority of Java IDEs look to be moving rapidly to support Java 7. NetBeans 7.0, currently in beta, will have full support, but version 6.9 already has support for strings in switch, the diamond operator, java.util.Objects and JSR 292, and an additional download is available that adds multicatch and automatic resource management support.

JetBrains, the Prague-based creator of IntelliJ IDEA, have stated that the major focus of IntelliJ 10.5 will be Java 7 support. The new version is scheduled for a general availability release this Spring, but the Early Access Preview program starts in a few weeks. The company is inviting anyone interested to download the source code for the IntelliJ IDEA Community Edition from the JetBrains download page. According to the company's blog

All of the new language features will be fully supported across the product, with code completion, code inspections, quick fixes and so on.

The Eclipse foundation too is working on support, with switch on strings, binary literals and underscores in number literals, Unicode 6.0, and SafeVarargs annotation already complete.

Oracle is encouraging developers to test their software with the new build and make them aware of any problems. A dedicated forum has been set up for the purpose. However in order to download the JDK you have to accept Sun's old pre-release software evaluation license, which has caused some concern. Mark Wielaard, GNU Classpath Maintainer and IcedTea hacker, told us

I believe this kind of draconian proprietary license is anti-social and harms the OpenJDK and the larger Java community. Nobody should use these binaries unless they fully understand the implications of accepting such a license. OpenJDK hackers provided their contributions under the GPL so everybody has the freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve OpenJDK. Oracle turns around, integrates these contributions into their proprietary java implementation but then releases their binaries under a license that make all these activities illegal. You may not even share test results, errors, bugs, etc with the OpenJDK community. Since all such activities are marked as "Feedback", which is "Confidential Information" that must not be disclosed to anybody but Sun (at no cost). Doing otherwise is a breach of the license agreement and would cause irreparable damage for which recovery of money damages would be inadequate... There is no way we can collectively push java forward under such terms.

Wielaard expressed the same concern to Mark Reinhold on the public openjdk list. Responding Reinhold agreed that the license terms were "less than ideal", adding

We'll look into revising it, although of all the legal issues we face I think a couple of others are more important (e.g., resolving the tensions between the JSPA, the GPL, and the openjdk.java.net terms-of-use).

JavaFX is also moving forward, with the early access program for version 2.0 up and running. The beta program for this is expected to start in quarter 2, and interested developers can sign up for updates here.

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