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Gluon Announces Full Java 9 Mobile Initiative

| by Victor Grazi Follow 20 Followers on Jun 10, 2016. Estimated reading time: 3 minutes |

Gluon has announced the Gluon VM project bringing Java 9 support to mobile developers and unlocking the availability of all OpenJDK APIs. 

As a full OpenJDK implementation, the company says their Gluon VM will form the basis for future releases of Gluon mobile, and will allow enterprise developers to benefit from the latest developments in Java 8 and Java 9.

Launched 18 months ago, the Gluon mobile offering provides plugins for the main Java IDEs, for building Java applications for Android and iOS platforms using a single code base. According to company co-founder John Vos, Gluon Mobile abstracts out the underlying hardware, providing a common API for accessing hardware and building dynamic user interfaces.

In order to execute Java code on mobile devices the device must be able to interpret Java bytecode, and therein lies the rub. Until now Gluon Mobile deployments on Android devices would bundle an Android-optimized JavaFX along with the developer’s application, which would be converted by the Dalvik or ART runtimes into native Android code. iOS deployment was handled somewhat differently, invoking the RoboVM AOT compiler to translate all of the application and library code to native iOS. In both cases, the long retired Apache Harmony port of Java SE, which is just a subset of Java 7, was used. This meant that developers were unable to use the latest APIs and language features that became available in Java 8 and 9, such as lambdas, streams, and modules. 

Vos told InfoQ:

After Xamarin acquired RoboVM, and was itself subsequently acquired by Microsoft, all development on RoboVM was halted.

Due to the lack of future development on RoboVM, and the reliance on the abandoned Apache Harmony project, Gluon decided that something needed to be done. This is what led to the development of Gluon VM, announced at Devoxx UK this week.

Gluon VM has replaced the dated Apache Harmony APIs with the full class libraries provided by the official OpenJDK project.

Vos told InfoQ:

Gluon VM also makes use of the work done by Oracle in the OpenJDK Mobile project. Gluon VM can operate as an ahead-of-time compiler, a just-in-time compiler, or as a runtime interpreter, enabling high-performance functionality regardless of the platform.

Gluon founders are senior committers in the JavaFX and mobile platforms.

According to Vos:

The Gluon co-founders, and the team of talented engineers working at Gluon, are highly respected in the Java world, with numerous contributions spanning all aspects of the Java ecosystem, from VM development through JavaFX and mobile all the way up to Java EE. In its short time since being formed, Gluon has already won a Duke’s Choice award for its contributions to the Java ecosystem at JavaOne 2015.

Since the launch of Gluon Mobile, uptake has been growing considerably, and many enterprises are now actively deploying Android and iOS applications built using a single code base, and developed in house with considerable cost savings to their organization, as well as the ability to ‘own their own future’, iterate rapidly, and not be beholden to an external consultancy.

Vos tells us that Gluon VM is keeping pace with OpenJDK and is scheduled to be released in conjunction with Java 9. He says there are currently no plans for backporting to Java 8, but they will be releasing previews of Gluon VM as they become available.

Vos noted that:

Gluon is keen to work with interested partners, either in making use of Gluon VM (and Gluon Mobile) in their applications, or through combining forces on the VM implementation.

Pricing and licensing details are yet to be confirmed. According to Vos:

Our goal is to create the best environment for developers wanting to create compelling, functional, and highly performant applications that can automatically span multiple devices, from desktop, to mobile, and down to embedded, in a single code base. We offer commercial support and consultancy, and we are proud of our open source heritage.”

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Interesting by Seriy V

Really interesting. Unfortunately nothing was released yet so we can only guess about details until code or binary release is available. Java 9 is expected in April of 2017 so quite some time to wait. Hopefully we'll see more details before that time. Looking forward to get more details.

SLOW COMPILATION by ZAchary Z

I've tried Gluon , and I have to say : IT WORKS.
yes, JavaFX 8 on Android is for real, BUT the only problem now is , the build process is fuckin terribly SLOW and requires quite high resource
Even for building simple "Hello World" application it takes amount of time and resource.

For comparison, Adobe AIR compile time is much more faster , either on Android/iOS , whether its compiled to .ipa/.apk .

I really appreciate the Gradle-based approach that makes everything easy, and hope everything improved in the future.

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