What a difference a year can make

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Kevin Shockey

Kevin Shockey
Jul. 31, 2005 12:50 AM

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It's amazing to work in such a dynamic and rapidly changing industry. It was just last year during OSCON that the debate about whether Sun should release Java was all the rage. However as we head into this year's convention, that debate has mostly died. It has been replaced with an active open source Java community that is becoming about more vocal and assertive.

To summarize briefly last year's focus on this debate, first there was a panel session entitled "Open Source Java". The panel included Tim O'Reilly, Bruno Ferreira de Souza, Simon Phipps, and Eric Raymond. I remember during that session having a distinct sense that nothing significant was accomplished in the session. Since that session I have researched all sides of the debate and lead a project focused on moving the open source Java forward. Now when I review my notes from that session I find that my original sense was accurate, no new ground was covered in the session.

Besides the panel session, Bruno Ferreira de Souza also lead a Birds of Feather session on "Java Livre: the discussion about Java and Open Source continues...". For me, it was while listening to Bruno that I believe I caught the open source Java bug. From listening to Bruno's impassioned discussion of the subject I finally understood why open source Java was so important and the potential role it must play in the future of Java. I think my partner at the SNAP Development Center, PJ Cabrera who also attended Bruno's session, must have caught the bug too because following last year's OSCON he lead our technical team in the creation of the SNAP Platform and SNAPPIX, both of which include an completely integrated open source implementation of the Java standard.

Now, as we arrive in Portland this weekend, we find, first, OSCON contains a rejuvenated interest in Java, with a significant increase in sessions in the Java track. We also find that the previous year's debate is completely absent from the schedule. In its place are three sessions specifically about open source Java.

On Wednesday at 11:35am, Geir Magnusson will present "Open Source Java". As leader of the newly formed Apache Harmony incubating project, Geir will provide an introduction to the Apache Harmony project, provide a status update, and present the near-term roadmap for the project.

On Thursday at 10:45am, Tom Tromey, of Red Hat, Inc. will present "The State of Free JVMs". Tom's talk will cover the successes of the recent past, the current state of affairs, and some insight into the developments you can expect in the next year, as well as the rationale for open source JVMs. There will also be cool demos.

Finally on Thursday evening at 7:30pm, the SNAP Development Center Team will present "The Reality of Open Source Java: SNAP Platform and SNAPPIX" Our session will build on these preceding two sessions and examine the myths and the realities of Open Source Java. With a clearer understanding of the realities, our session will establish the grounds for a new on-going discussion about the future of Open Source Java. We will also demonstrate version 0.9 of the SNAPPIX Live Linux CD featuring the SNAP Platform.

With these three sessions, it certainly seems to me that the last year has made quite a difference for open source Java. The debate which has raged on for years is quieting and and we are witnessing a shift in the momentum and visibility of the open source Java community.

Kevin Shockey is an emerging high technology entrepreneur.