Interview The Eclipse Foundation has released a preview of Jakarta EE 9, the next major version of what used to be called Java Enterprise Edition.
The name change goes back to Oracle’s decision in September 2017 to move Java EE to an open source foundation. At the time, Oracle said there would be “a new name for Java EE to be determined.” The name chosen was Jakarta – and the change is more than cosmetic, since code written for Java EE has to be updated to use new Jakarta namespaces, rather than the old javax namespaces.
Jakarta EE 9, which is set for full release in the autumn, “marks the final shift of the Jakarta EE platform from Java EE,” according to the Foundation.
Unfortunately there is not much else in it. “What is not in the plan is the addition of any significant new functionality,” says the Foundation's executive director Mike Milinkovich on behalf of the working group in January.
New features, with the exception of some minor tidying up, will go into Jakarta EE 10. Simply updating the namespaces and giving implementers time to update their distributions is so tiresome that this release is required.
El Reg talks to Mike Milinkovich
Is the whole thing a time-consuming charade imposed on developers by Oracle’s legal department?
“Keep in mind that what we are doing with Jakarta is transferring a multi-billion dollar ecosystem from a single-vendor project to a vendor-neutral community led-project,” Milinkovich tells The Register. “This is a process, not an event. The reason why we’re doing this is to have the freedom to evolve these API’s in the future without having any connection to Oracle or the JCP. This is a necessary step to truly set Java EE free.
“When you are transferring a 20-year old technology that has a lot of history there are some difficult constraints. This was the best solution that we could come up with after a lot of months of negotiation.
"I want to stress that the Oracle engineering teams that we were working with have been an absolute delight. None of this would have happened without Oracle helping make it happen. Yes, it is unfortunate that we have to do this, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying on anybody’s part.”
Is Oracle retreating from Java? “Let’s separate what’s happening on the Java SE side versus what’s happening on what’s now Jakarta EE,” says Milinkovich, distinguishing between the server-side enterprise technology and the core runtime that gets used everywhere.
“On the Java SE side I would say no. There’s a continuing stream of investment by Oracle in the Java platform. The latest numbers show that Java is the most widely used language on the planet. I do think they need to invite others to participate more equally in the evolution of the language and the platform.
“Three years ago, Java EE was just like Java SE, 100 per cent controlled by Oracle. All of the resources going into the evolution of the platform and the APIs were coming from Oracle. A lot of people wondered whether migration to a community-led project was even possible. The numbers speak for themselves.
"Oracle is still the biggest contributor to Jakarta EE with just under 30 per cent, but the next set of numbers, contributors and other committers, these two together are approaching 50 per cent of the contributions.
"We have demonstrated that you can transition this type of technology. We now have 12 products which have certified as Jakarta EE 8 compatible, which is more than ever certified on Java EE 8. For the first time in a long time we’re seeing growth in the EE ecosystem.”
The Foundation has also released a new developer survey (with 2,180 respondents) which makes some bold claims. Use of Spring and Spring Boot, the most popular framework for Java cloud applications, has declined from 57 per cent in 2019 to 44 per cent today, with Jakarta EE usage now at 35 per cent.
The survey also shows declining interest in microservices, contrary to the buzz, from 43 per cent in 2019 to 39 per cent today. “Use of the monolithic architecture approach for implementing Java systems in the cloud has doubled since last year with 25 per cent adoption, up from 13 per cent in 2019,” it says.
Since this survey is primarily driven by the Eclipse Foundation and the Jakarta EE working group, is this just a consequence of what the survey also acknowledges, that the framework is weak for microservices?
“It could be,” says Milinkovich. “Every survey is a snapshot of a particular time and a particular demographic. But we had enough response to believe this is a pretty good snapshot.”
He points out that the fact that Spring and Spring Boot remains in the top spot proves that the survey reached beyond the Jakarta community. “My hypothesis is that the survey is accurate. It shows a levelling in the interest in deploying microservices as part of moving Java applications to the cloud. People are becoming more pragmatic. If you have a Java monolith with a couple of thousand users, there is no business reason to re-architect that. Just lift and shift.”
Another notable statistic is relatively high interest in Red Hat’s Quarkus project, designed for running Java in Kubernetes and serverless environments. Quarkus was used by 16 per cent of those polled. “Spring and Spring Boot are getting a little more competition,” says Milinkovich.
The fashion for changing names is not reserved to Oracle. Another project which has just revealed a move to the Eclipse Foundation is AdoptOpenJDK, which provides Java runtimes and tools free of Oracle’s licensing requirements and now claims over 165 million downloads of its binary distributions.
The project was, until now, backed by the London Java Community user group, but wanted to move to a “large established software foundation,” because of the amount of logistical support needed to maintain it. “The new project name will be Eclipse Adoptium.
"Adoptium is a compound word of AdoptOpenJDK and the Latin suffix -ium,” says the Technical Steering Committee rather obviously, without explaining why it thought the Latinate suffix appropriate. ®