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Java EE Guardians Unite to Save Java EE

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In the wake of last year’s downsizing in Oracle’s Java evangelism as well as their earlier announcement that they would be suspending future major releases of GlassFish server and limiting support, a group of Java standard bearers calling themselves the Java EE Guardians formulated a charter declaring their intent to come to the rescue of Java EE.

The Java EE Guardians are a veritable who’s who of Java luminaries, including “Father of Java” James Gosling, former evangelist Reza Rahman and many other Java technorati.

Group founder, former Java EE/GlassFish evangelist Reza Rahman says:

We now have close to 400 members in our Google Group and close to 2000 followers on Twitter.

While employed at Oracle, these foot soldiers endeavored to keep Java moving forward. However their statistics point to a serious downturn in Java EE development. The site currently includes a selection of charts illustrating the consistent down-trending of resolved issues and revision control commits.

In Oracle’s defense, the company seems to be paving a road to their vision of a cloud-based world of the future.

Although the Java EE Guardians agree that the cloud should be pursued, the site points out:

Despite all this there is growing evidence that Oracle is conspicuously neglecting Java EE, weakening a very broad ecosystem that depends on strong Java EE development. Unless things change soon Java EE 8 won’t be delivered in anywhere near the time when it was initially promised if it is delivered at all.

It is very difficult to determine why this neglect from Oracle is occurring or how long it will last. Oracle has not shared it’s motivations even with it’s closest commercial partners let alone the community. A very troubling possibility is that it is being done because Oracle is backing away from an open standards based collaborative development approach and is instead pursuing a highly proprietary, unilateral path.

The Java EE Guardians' charter seek a more “rational strategy”, and wants support from the industry to “solving this problem”:

As committed as we are we still need to effect change in a company with the size, scope and resources of Oracle. Persuading Oracle to adapt to the legitimate interests of people outside of itself – even its own customers – has proven challenging in the past. In all likelihood it may not be easy this time either, though there must always remain plentiful room for reasoned optimism. The Java EE community needs your help. We need the support of your voice and perhaps your volunteer time if you can afford it to ensure we succeed. These are the many ways you could help.

From Oracle’s point of view, it would seem that these and other Java technologies may just not be worth supporting. JavaFX still hasn't caught on as expected and NetBeans IDE still only enjoys a 10% market share. InfoQ asked Rahman about the value of investing in technologies that seem to have trouble attaining escape velocity:

I can tell you Netbeans is a nice polished IDE. In the right hands, NetBeans can be a success.

At inception, JavaFX was not a polished API, and continues to be not as polished as it could be. But it is not so bad that it should be abandoned. Your car’s dashboard could be running on JavaFX; also your browser. Java needs a front-end technology, and JavaFX with a little TLC addresses that void.

Mobile is the same, it has its problems, but it is worth moving forward, and there should be a set of companies willing to move that forward because there is a problem space for it.

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