Oracle Looks to Increase Pace of Java Innovation

With the latest release of Java, it should become simpler for DevOps teams that build and deploy applications with the most widely used programming language in the enterprise to innovate faster.

Georges Saab, senior vice president, Oracle Java Platform, said Java 22 is unique in the history of Java in that it is specifically designed to enable developers to invoke capabilities that are available in beta and preview while still working with the other functions supported in the venerable programming language. The overall goal is to increase the pace of innovation in environments based on Java applications, he added.

The latest edition of the Java Development Kit (JDK), for example, provides access in preview to capabilities developed under a Project Amber initiative that makes it simpler to express strings that include values computed at runtime while also improving the security of programs that compose strings from user-provided values and pass them to other systems.

Meanwhile, a Project Loom initiative, also available in preview, streamlines error handling and cancellation in a way that improves observability using an application programming interface (API) that enables structured concurrency, while a Scoped Values capability provides a way to share immutable data within and across threads.

A Project Panama initiative adds a Vector API that promises to compile instructions at runtime when, for example, making use of retrieval-augmented generation (RAG) techniques to extend artificial intelligence (AI) models.

In terms of additional capabilities that are now generally supported, Java 22 adds an API to enable Java programs to safely interoperate with code and data running in memory outside of the Java runtime.

Most importantly, from an application performance perspective, the latest iteration of the language streamlines garbage collection processes in memory to reduce the number of times a Java application might otherwise need to be paused.

Despite the number of alternative programming languages that exist, the bulk of enterprise-class applications continue to be built in Java. While many developers are at least familiar with multiple programming languages, most tend to favor one primary programming language. Java developers, especially, have shown little inclination to abandon the language even as other programming languages, such as JavaScript, have emerged that are either simpler to use or, as in the case of Rust, may provide more robust security capabilities.

Less clear is at what rate developers are upgrading to the latest iteration. In some cases, developers are still making use of version 8, 11 or, more recently, 17. It may be a while before the bulk of Java developers are ready to make the jump to Java 22. In addition, DevOps teams will then need to decide when there is enough critical mass to warrant upgrading runtime environments to support another iteration of Java.

One way or another, either via an edition of Java provided by Oracle or another vendor, the programming language isn’t likely to be supplanted any time soon. The challenge now is providing support not just for the various versions of Java that might be running but, inevitably, all the other software artifacts written in various languages that are now also routinely moving through DevOps pipelines.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.

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