JavaEE or Spring? Neither! We Call Out For a Fresh Competitor!

If you’ve been following some key Java people on Twitter or reading the “news” on Reddit, you could not have missed the hilarious quarrel between some Spring and JavaEE evangelists.

First, Jürgen Höller’s provocative article:

“Happy second birthday, Java EE 7! How is it going in production?”

Then, Reza Rahman’s response:

“The Ghosts of Java EE 7 in Production: Past, Present and Future”

And in between, there had been hundreds of equally amusing tweets.

If you haven’t already, take out your popcorn :)

EDIT: This discussion went on further than this blog post. There are also discussions going on:

Troll marketing

At Data Geekery, we’re certainly not unacquainted with the fun and effective technique that we like to refer to as “troll marketing”, e.g. when we recently ranted against the (ab-)use of annotations by both Java EE and Spring, or when we compared Hibernate with the good old Nokia 3310.

It’s childish, yes. But it is also effective. The only reason why it is effective is because by doing so, you’re stirring up a hornets’ nest. You have a point, after all, and you start triggering a very polarised discussion that has no right/wrong answer, which all participants will fail to accept, and thus fight. While they’re fighting, you can put your brand in each and every message. Bingo.

Spring folks do exactly the same thing. If you’ve heard a talk by Josh Long from Pivotal, you will certainly have noticed that much of the talk is just ranting about things like Internet Explorer. If you’re not the kind of person that takes everything personally, seriously, and/or literally, then such a talk can be quite amusing.

The interesting bit here is the fact that the “standards” evangelists react to Spring’s provocative article way too much. At the bottom of Reza’s article, there is a linked presentation by Bert Ertman, in favour of Java EE (and it wouldn’t be wrong to say that Reza thus endorses this talk’s content and style):

The key point I’m trying to make here is not that two opposing technology vendors try to get a hold of their communities, convincing people that their tech is better (that’s what engineers have been doing long before Tesla vs. Edison).

The key point I’m trying to make here is the fact that one of the vendors claims for themselves to be a “standard”, putting themselves (the JCP = Oracle) on eye level with real standards committees like ISO, DIN, w3c, IETF.

JavaEE is a Standard?

It is, in a way. It is a de facto standard, just like Spring. It is a very loose set of small interest groups that are governed mostly by Oracle (and other vendors) who try to promote and establish their interests and technology over alternative, “proprietary” tech.

JavaEE is a “standard” with a long history. It has always been a rather “weak” standard, which is why Spring was created in the first place. The fact that Reza from Oracle reacts so sensitively to Spring’s deliberate provocation can be interpreted as a sign that the “standard” is still weak and endangered by Spring as an alternative.

An interesting comparison could be made to Siebel vs. Salesforce. Siebel was the de facto “standard” in the CRM industry but Salesforce managed to harass Siebel so much that Siebel had to acknowledge Salesforce as a real competitor in its business long before they even remotely met on eye-level, revenue-wise. This was ultimately leading to Siebel’s demise and acquisition by – how ironic – Oracle, where much of the JCP is hosted.

The same thing has been happening with Java EE and Spring. Spring is now so extremely successful in the market, even if completely (= admittedly) proprietary, that Java EE will have to fight hard to get back on top of Spring. Much harder than merely calling out the old and lame “standards” argument. Java EE has to be better and faster than Spring, not just a “standard”. With all the JCP politics going on, I don’t see that happening, though.

So, will Spring win?

My prediction is: Nope.

This whole story just shows us that standards in our Java ecosystem are weak. There are an incredible amount of players on the market. Niche products like Hibernate and jOOQ can shake up the database access market segment. Niche products like GWT, Vaadin, ZK, Spring MVC, Play Framework, etc. can shake up the HTML UI market segment (no way JSF or JSR 371 can prevent further market fragmentation in this area).

Heck, language agnostic technologies like Akka or Vert.X show that not even the Servlet API is really sound and safe. And with Oracle having introduced Nashorn, the whole JavaScript ecosystem might just as well threaten Java EE. The only thing that can be taken for granted for another 5-10 years, I suspect, is the JVM and the Java SE JDK with its libraries, including JDBC.

Our industry is advancing so quickly right now, it seems to be impossible for a highly distributed, rather political committee like the JCP to keep up the pace and deliver the quality and innovation that we’re seeing elsewhere.

In other words, the Java EE “standard” is nothing more than a 5-10 year-behind body of, admittedly, proven technologies. Proven some time ago. Given that a single player like Pivotal has successfully challenged the “standard” for more than 10 years now, I suspect that new players might soon enter the market with new alternatives.

Who will be the new players?

One of them will be the soon-to-be-renamed Typesafe. Why do you think they’re getting rebranded after all? And what do you think they’re trying to prove with Akka + Play + ConductR? They’re trying to prove that you can do software entirely differently on top of the JVM, that’s what they’re trying to prove.

Besides, they’re using the same low-content, high-emotion troll marketing technique that Pivotal / Spring had been so successful with. Observe their use of the evil term “monolith” everywhere (= Java EE, what else):

monolith

Another one of them might be… Microsoft! Why not? Their recent Open Sourcing moves might help establishing .NET on top of Linux, eventually. And once you’re on top of Linux, you might as well get on top of the JVM. The .NET ecosystem is much more coherent than Java’s and this will exert a lot of innovation pressure on our ecosystem.

microsoft+linux

All of this is happening while the JCP is still recovering from the politics behind the game-changer data interchange APIs JSR-353, JSR-367, and JSR-374

Interesting future

The above predictions might or might not become true. But one thing I’m very certain of. We will have even more competition and thus more choices for our infrastructure software in the near future. The current de facto standards will lose market shares. Tough luck for them, better tech for us.

While the evangelists are fighting their little personal fights, I’m looking forward to a very interesting future on the JVM.

Read about a concurring opinion by our friends at Takipi here

10 Java Articles Everyone Must Read

One month ago, we’ve published a list of 10 SQL Articles Everyone Must Read. A list of articles that we believe would add exceptional value to our readers on the jOOQ blog. The jOOQ blog is a blog focusing on both Java and SQL, so it is only natural that today, one month later, we’re publishing an equally exciting list of 10 Java articles everyone must read.

Note that by “must read”, we may not specifically mean the particular linked article only, but also other works from the same authors, who have been regular bloggers over the past years and never failed to produce new interesting content!

Here goes…

1. Brian Goetz: “Stewardship: the Sobering Parts”

The first blog post is actually not a blog post but a recording of a very interesting talk by Brian Goetz on Oracle’s stewardship of Java. On the jOOQ blog, we’ve been slightly critical about 1-2 features of the Java language in the past, e.g. when comparing it to Scala, or Ceylon.

Brian makes good points about why it would not be a good idea for Java to become just as “modern” as quickly as other languages. A must-watch for every Java developer (around 1h)

2. Aleksey Shipilёv: The Black Magic of (Java) Method Dispatch

In recent years, the JVM has seen quite a few improvements, including invokedynamic that arrived in Java 7 as a prerequisite for Java 8 lambdas, as well as a great tool for other, more dynamic languages built on top of the JVM, such as Nashorn.

invokedynamic is only a small, “high level” puzzle piece in the advanced trickery performed by the JVM. What really happens under the hood when you call methods? How are they resolved, optimised by the JIT? Aleksey’s article sub-title reveals what the article is really about:

“Everything you wanted to know about Black Deviously Surreptitious Magic in low-level performance engineering”

Definitely not a simple read, but a great post to learn about the power of the JVM.

Read Aleksey’s “The Black Magic of (Java) Method Dispatch

3. Oliver White: Java Tools and Technologies Landscape for 2014

We’re already in 2015, but this report by Oliver White (at the time head of ZeroTurnaround’s RebelLabs) had been exceptionally well executed and touches pretty much everything related to the Java ecosystem.

Read Oliver’s “Java Tools and Technologies Landscape for 2014

4. Peter Lawrey: Java Lambdas and Low Latency

When Aleksey has introduced us to some performance semantics in the JVM, Peter takes this one step further, talking about low latency in Java 8. We could have picked many other useful little blog posts from Peter’s blog, which is all about low-latency, high performance computing on the JVM, sometimes even doing advanced off-heap trickery.

Read Peter’s “Java Lambdas and Low Latency

5. Nicolai Parlog: Everything You Need To Know About Default Methods

Nicolai is a newcomer in the Java blogosphere, and a very promising one, too. His well-researched articles go in-depth about some interesting facts related to Java 8, digging out old e-mails from the expert group’s mailing list, explaining the decisions they made to conclude with what we call Java 8 today.

Read Nicolai’s “Everything You Need To Know About Default Methods

6. Lukas Eder: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Java

This list wouldn’t be complete without listing another list that we wrote ourselves on the jOOQ blog. Java is an old beast with 20 years of history this year in 2015. This old beast has a lot of secrets and caveats that many people have forgotten or never thought about. We’ve uncovered them for you:

Read Lukas’s “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Java

7. Edwin Dalorzo: Why There Is Interface Pollution in Java 8

Edwin has been responding to our own blog posts a couple of times in the past with very well researched and thoroughly thought through articles, in particular about Java 8 related features, e.g. comparing Java 8 Streams with LINQ (something that we’ve done ourselves, as well).

This particular article explains why there are so many different and differently named functional interfaces in Java 8.

Read Edwin’s “Why There Is Interface Pollution in Java 8

8. Vlad Mihalcea: How Does PESSIMISTIC_FORCE_INCREMENT Lock Mode Work

When Java talks to databases, many people default to using Hibernate for convenience (see also 3. Oliver White: Java Tools and Technologies Landscape for 2014). Hibernate’s main vision, however, is not to add convenience – you can get that in many other ways as well. Hibernate’s main vision is to provide powerful means of navigating and persisting an object graph representation of your RDBMS’s data model, including various ways of locking.

Vlad is an extremely proficient Hibernate user, who has a whole blog series on how Hibernate works going. We’ve picked a recent, well-researched article about locking, but we strongly suggest you read the other articles as well:

Read Vlad’s “How Does PESSIMISTIC_FORCE_INCREMENT Lock Mode Work

9. Petri Kainulainen: Writing Clean Tests

This isn’t a purely Java-related blog post, although it is written from the perspective of a Java developer. Modern development involves testing – automatic testing – and lots of it. Petri has written an interesting blog series about writing clean tests in Java – you shouldn’t miss his articles!

Read Petri’s “Writing Clean Tests

10. Eugen Paraschiv: Java 8 Resources Collection

If you don’t already have at least 9 open tabs with interesting stuff to read after this list, get ready for a browser tab explosion! Eugen Paraschiv who maintains baeldung.com has been collecting all sorts of very interesting resources related to Java 8 in a single link collection. You should definitely bookmark this collection and check back frequently for interesting changes:

Read Eugen’s “Java 8 Resources Collection

Many other articles

There are, of course, many other very good articles providing deep insight into useful Java tricks. If you find you’ve encountered an article that would nicely complement this list, please leave a link and description in the comments section. Future readers will appreciate the additional insight.

Java Rocks More Than Ever

On the TIOBE index, Java and C have been sharing the #1 and #2 rank for a long time now, and with the recent GA release of the JDK 8, things are not going to get any worse for our community.

Java simply rocks! And it’s the best platform to build almost any of your applications, out there.

But why does Java rock so much? Is it the JVM? Is it the backwards-compatibility? Is it the easy syntax? Or the millions of free and commercial software available to build your software? All of this and much more.

The Top 10 Reasons why Java Rocks More Than Ever

ZeroTurnaround’s RebelLabs often publish awesome blog posts, which we can only recommend. In this case, we’ve discovered a very well-written series of blog posts explaining why Java is so great in 10 steps, by ZeroTurnaround’s Geert Bevin. The articles include:

Part 1: The Java Compiler

The compiler is one of the things we take for granted in any language, without thinking about its great features. In Java, unlike C++, you can simply compile your code without thinking too much about linking, optimisation and all sorts of other usual compiler features. This is partially due to the JIT (Just In Time compiler), which does further compilation work at runtime.

Read the full article here

Part 2: The Core API

The JDK’s core API consists of a very solid, stable and well-understood set of libraries. While many people complain about the lack of functionality in this area (resorting to Google Guava or Apache Commons), people often forget that the core API is still the one that is underneath all those extensions. Again, from a C++ perspective, this is a truly luxurious situation.

Read the full article here

Part 3: Open Source

In this section, ZeroTurnaround’s Geert Bevin‘s mind-set aligns well with our own at Data Geekery when it comes to the spirit of Open Source – no matter whether this is about free-as-in-freedom, or free-as-in-beer, the point is that so many things about Java are “open”. We’re all in this together.

Read the full article here

Part 4: The Java Memory Model

Again, a very interesting point of view from someone with a solid C++ background. We’re taking many things for granted as Java has had a very good threading and memory model from the beginning, which was corrected only once in the JDK 1.5 in 2004, and which has built a solid grounds for newer API like actor-based ones, Fork/JOIN, etc.

Read the full article here

Part 5: High-Performance JVM

The JVM is the most obvious thing to talk about it has allowed for so many languages to work on so many hardware environments, and it runs so fast, nowadays!

Read the full article here

Part 6: Bytecode

… and the JVM also rocks because of bytecode, of course. Bytecode is a vendor-independent abstraction of machine code, which is very predictable and can be generated, manipulated, and transformed by various technologies. We’ve recently had a guest post by Dr. Ming-Yee Iu who has shown how bytecode transformations can be used to emulate LINQ in Java. Let’s hear it for bytecode!

Read the full article here

Part 7: Intelligent IDEs

15 years ago, developing software worked quite differently. People can write assembler or C programs with vi or Notepad. But when you’re writing a very complex enterprise-scale Java program, you wouldn’t want to miss IDEs, nowadays. We’ve blogged about various reasons why SQLJ has died. The lack of proper IDE support was one of them.

Read the full article here

Part 8: Profiling Tools

Remember when Oracle released Java Mission Control for free developer use with the JDK 7u40? Profiling is something very very awesome. With modern profilers, you can know exactly where your bottleneck is by simply measuring every aspect of your JVM. You don’t have to guess, you can know. How powerful is that?

Read the full article here

Part 9: Backwards Compatibility

While backwards-compatibility has its drawbacks, too, it is still very impressive how long the Java language, the JVM, and the JDK have existed so far without introducing any major backwards-compatibility regressions. The only thing that comes to mind is the introduction of keywords like assert and enum.

Could you imagine introducing the Java 8 Streams API, lambda expressions, default methods, generics, enums, and loads of other features without ever breaking anything? That’s just great!

Read the full article here

Part 10: Maturity With Innovation

In fact, this article is a summary of all the others, saying that Java has been a very well-designed and mature platform from the beginning without ever ceasing to innovate. And it’s true. With Java 8, a great next step has been published that will – again – change the way the enterprise perceives software development for good.

Read the full article here

Java Rocks More Than Ever

It does, and it’s a great great platform with a bright future for all its community participants.

When All Else Fails: Using “the Unsafe”

Sometimes you have to hack. You just have to. Don’t listen to XKCD. You don’t always regret hacking. On our blog, we’ve shown a couple of hacks before:

But we’ve just been scratching the surface. Our friends at ZeroTurnaround / RebelLabs have recently published an awesome article about how to use “the Unsafe”. The sun.misc.Unsafe class to directly access memory in Java. While the first page introduces us to the Unsafe object itself and how to access it through reflection …

public static Unsafe getUnsafe() {
    try {
        Field f = Unsafe.class
            .getDeclaredField("theUnsafe");
        f.setAccessible(true);
        return (Unsafe) f.get(null);
    } catch (Exception e) { 
        /* ... */ 
    }
}

… subsequent sections nicely explain how to map “unsafe” memory access methods to addressing a Class in memory, of objects in memory

// If you're daring, go manipulate the heap directly!
Object helperArray[] = new Object[1];
helperArray[0] = targetObject;
long baseOffset = 
    unsafe.arrayBaseOffset(Object[].class);
long addressOfObject =
    unsafe.getLong(helperArray, baseOffset);

However, don’t think it’s so easy. In order to manipulate the Java heap directly, you will need to understand a lot about the various fields and flags in class headers, and you’ll always need to remember to distinguish between 32-bit and 64-bit JVMs.

This particular article was written at RebelLabs by Serkan Özal whose Open Source profile indicates that he’s a real hacker and “the Unsafe” is his home away from home.

Add Some Entropy to Your JVM

Being able to generate true random numbers depends on the entropy in your system. Some claim, that this can be guaranteed by fair dice roll. Others think that replacing the OpenJDK’s java.math.Random.nextInt() method with this body will help:

public int nextInt() {
  return 14;
}

Source: http://www.redcode.nl/blog/2013/10/openjdk-and-xkcd-random-number/.

But that’s absurd. We all know that the best way to add true entropy to the JVM is by rewriting the java.lang.Integer.IntegerCache when your JVM starts up. Here’s the code:

import java.lang.reflect.Field;
import java.util.Random;

public class Entropy {
  public static void main(String[] args) 
  throws Exception {

    // Extract the IntegerCache through reflection
    Class<?> clazz = Class.forName(
      "java.lang.Integer$IntegerCache");
    Field field = clazz.getDeclaredField("cache");
    field.setAccessible(true);
    Integer[] cache = (Integer[]) field.get(clazz);

    // Rewrite the Integer cache
    for (int i = 0; i < cache.length; i++) {
      cache[i] = new Integer(
        new Random().nextInt(cache.length));
    }

    // Prove randomness
    for (int i = 0; i < 10; i++) {
      System.out.println((Integer) i);
    }
  }
}

When I last tried, the above printed

92
221
45
48
236
183
39
193
33
84

Don’t believe it? Try it on your application! By trying this on your application, you agree to the following licensing terms:

Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software distributed under the License is distributed on an “AS IS” BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied.


Liked this article? Here are a couple of other articles from our blog that we think you might like, too:

What Will be Oracle’s Next Big Acquisition?

Now THIS is an interesting Quora question. Citing:

What will be the next big acquisition by Oracle?

What will be the next acquisition made by Oracle that could be compared (as a strategic decision, not necessarily  by value) to Oracle’s Sun Microsystems acquisition?

From my perspective, clearly, Oracle will buy jOOQ from Data Geekery GmbH, in order to finally closely integrate their two most valuable assets:

  • The Oracle Database
  • The JVM and Java

But maybe, they’ll just buy another airline ;-)

What is your bet? Comment below, or answer the question here:
http://www.quora.com/Oracle-company/What-will-be-the-next-big-acquisition-by-Oracle

Twitter and the JVM

Here’s an interesting read about Twitter and why they had chosen to migrate to the JVM for scalability. A must-read for everyone working on Java, Scala, or other JVM languages:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/oracle/2013/08/01/theres-java-in-your-tweets/