Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Truth is Out There: Is It At JavaOne and Oracle OpenWorld?

There is no shortage of articles covering the news of Oracle's intent to buy Sun and Sun's agreement to be purchased by Oracle. This level of coverage is justifiable given the potential magnitude of this on development using Java and on many other areas of the information systems and computer science fields. Many of us were not surprised, but now that it has actually happened, there are many questions. The answers to some of these questions may be full of surprises.

It seems that 2009 JavaOne (June 2-5, 2009) and Oracle OpenWorld 2009 (October 11-15, 2009) will likely provide answers to many of our questions and perhaps even prompt a few new questions and even start or strengthen some conspiracy theories. [By the way, I'm especially looking forward to the hallway chat and Q&A session at Colorado Software Summit 2009 (October 25-30, 2009) regarding the latest developments.]

A very recent poll asked the question, "Which of the technologies highlighted at JavaOne 2009 is of greatest importance for the future of Java?" It is interesting to note that as of this writing (and with this poll question no longer featured on as the current poll question), there have been only 310 votes so far. I am probably reading more into the responses than I should and the relatively low number of votes could simply imply that the poll question was not significantly interesting or controversial to a large number of developers. Having said that, I wonder if at least part of the low response is due to developers more interested in the overall future of Java than of any one particular aspect of it.

My guess (and that's all it is) is that JavaFX will not reign as the main attraction for a third year running, but that talk of the effects and impact of Oracle buying Sun will dominate JavaOne regardless of the organized presentations and activities. Similarly, but to a lesser degree, the same Oracle/Sun transaction will be a major topic at Oracle OpenWorld. Because Oracle OpenWorld includes many presentations, activities, and attendees with no or very little direct interest in Java, there may be more "other things" to talk about.

Some of the questions that people will be talking about and looking for answers to at these two major conferences are:

* Is 2009 JavaOne the last JavaOne? With Oracle's OpenWorld being a huge event in its own right, will Oracle have interest in maintaining a separate and very large conference? What will JavaOne be like in the future under Oracle if the conference continues?

* Will Oracle support JavaFX with the same passion and resources that Sun did?

* Will Oracle support GlassFish and NetBeans with the same passion and resources that Sun did?

* Will Oracle support MySQL with the same passion and resources that Sun did or is this another conspiracy theory with potential?

* Will Oracle support JRuby and other largely Sun-sponsored community projects with the same passion and resources that Sun did?

* What effect will this have on the Java Community Process (JCP)?

* How will the life of the Java developer change?

Two television series that I have enjoyed remind me of how many of us feel now as we contemplate Oracle's purchase of Sun. Both The X Files (1993-2002) and Lost (2004-present) had/have a way of answering one or two questions now and then while at the same time opening up several times that number of new questions. Although this was/is extremely frustrating at times, I kept/keep watching in a desperate hope to get some answers. In fact, based on my own behavior and the popularity of these series, it seems that we may even like the questions and the speculations that ensue. It will be interesting to see if 2009 JavaOne and Oracle OpenWorld 2009 actually satisfy most of our questions or if, like The X Files and Lost, they answer a few questions while opening up many more. Perhaps we enjoy this ability to speculate in Java-dom as much as we do about our favorite television shows.

Finally, if Oracle is thinking about combining "JavaOne" with "Oracle OpenWorld", a natural blend would be "Oracle JavaWorld", but the "JavaWorld" trademark is already taken. So, if the conferences are combined in the future, what will the new conference's name be?

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