jOOQ Tuesdays: Raoul-Gabriel Urma Explores What Java 8 and English have in Common

Welcome to the jOOQ Tuesdays series. In this series, we’ll publish an article on the third Tuesday every other month where we interview someone we find exciting in our industry from a jOOQ perspective. This includes people who work with SQL, Java, Open Source, and a variety of other related topics.


We have the pleasure of talking to Raoul-Gabriel Urma in this second edition who will be telling us a little about what Java 8 and English have in common.

Hi Raoul – You’re about to publish a very interesting PhD regarding programming language evolution. What is it about?

Natural languages such as English and Spanish have evolved over the years. However, in general the evolution take centuries. Consequently, society has had time to adapt.

Programming languages share a similar characteristic: they evolve. However, unlike natural languages, they evolve almost every year! This puts greater pressure on developers and existing code bases. For example, new features are introduced, idioms changes and sometime different language versions are backward incompatible.

As part of my dissertation I argue that developers need machine support focused on locating sources of backward incompatibilities and contribute various techniques for both static and dynamically typed languages.

I’m also co-organising a workshop on the topic as part of ECOOP if that’s of interest!

Very interesting! Programming languages seem to be a favourite topic of yours. You’ve written an impressive book with great reviews on Amazon (4.7 out of 5!). What do you readers learn from it?

I’ve written a book called Java 8 in Action together with Mario Fusco and Alan Mycroft. We wanted to write a book which teaches how to benefit from the various new Java 8 features. However, we also wanted to write a book that the Java community will still be reading in five or ten years. This is why the book covers many topics on top of lambda expressions and the Streams API such as testing & debugging, refactoring, enhanced concurrency, functional programming concepts and even a bit of Scala!

And what was your biggest learning from writing the book?

It always takes more time than you think ;-)

Being (blog) writers ourselves, we can certainly relate to that!

Java 8 with lambdas and streams is inevitable for all of us. From your earlier work experience at Google, Oracle, Ebay, Goldman Sachs, what do you expect will be the biggest challenges for adopters in the industry when upgrading to Java 8 and functional programming?

Java 8 makes Java sexy again. Unfortunately, a big part of software engineering is to deal with legacy frameworks and codebases, which may impede the adoption of Java 8 for various companies. Nonetheless, several recent surveys show that Java 8’s adoption is going strong.

From the various conference talks, discussions and training courses I’ve given so far, it is clear that the Java community is excited about using lambdas and the Streams API. Hopefully this means that more people will embrace the functional-style in the next 5 years :-).

At Data Geekery with jOOQ, we’ve been working to integrate SQL – a very powerful external domain-specific language – into Java, (ab)using the Java language to the extreme. From a Java / Java 8 perspective, what is your take on domain-specific languages in general, and on SQL in particular?

I think jOOQ is a fantastic project! I’m a believer of writing code that matches the business problem’s domain. It helps readabiliy and maintenance, and ultimately it’s useful for productivity.

You’ve also been busy co-founding startups next to writing books and PhDs. What is it that you love about your various jobs?

I love contributing to people’s lives and knowledge!

If you are interested in Java 8 training, check out the course I’ve put together with Richard Warbuton and James Gough:

The Top 10 Productivity Booster Techs for Programmers

This is the list we’ve all been waiting for. The top 10 productivity booster techs for programmers that – once you’ve started using them – you can never do without them any longer.

Here it is:

1. Git

logo@2x Before, there were various version control systems. Better ones, worse ones. But somehow they all felt wrong in one way or another.

Came along Git (and GitHub, EGit). Once you’re using this miraculous tool, it’s hard to imagine that you’ll ever meet a better VCS again.

You’ve never used Git? Get started with this guide.

2. Stack Overflow


No kidding. Have you ever googled for anything tech-related back in 2005? Or altavista’d something back in 2000? Or went to FidoNet in search for answers in 1995? It was horrible. The top results always consisted in boring forum discussions with lots of un-experts and script kiddies claiming wrong things.

These forums still exist, but they don’t turn up on page 1 of Google search results.

Today, any time you search for something, you’ll have 2-3 hits per top 10 from Stack Overflow. And chances are, you’ll look no further because those answers are 80% wonderful! That’s partially because of Stack Overflow’s cunning reputation system, but also partially because of Stack Overflow’s even more cunning SEO rewarding system. (I already got 98 announcer, 19 booster, and 5 publicist badges. Yay).

While Stack Overflow allows its more active user to pursue their vanity (see above ;-) ), all the other users without any accounts will continue to flock in, finding perfect answers and clicking on very relevant ads.

Thumbs up for Stack Overflow and their awesome business model.

3. Office 365

excel We’re a small startup. Keeping costs low is of the essence. With Office 365, we only pay around $120 per user for a full-fledged Office 2013 suite, integrated with Microsoft Onedrive, Sharepoint, Exchange, Access, and much more.

In other words, we get enterprise-quality office software for the price of what students used to pay, before.

And do note, Office 2013 is better than any other Microsoft (or Libre) Office suite before. While not a 100% Programmer thing, it’s still an awesome tool chain for a very competitive price.

4. IntelliJ


While Eclipse is great (and free), IntelliJ IDEA, and also phpStorm for those unfortunate enough to write PHP are just subtly better in almost every aspect of an IDE. You can try their free community edition any time, but beware, you probably won’t switch back. And then you probably won’t be able to evade the Ultimate edition for long ;-)

5. PostgreSQL

pg PostgreSQL claims to be the world’s most advanced Open Source database, and we think it’s also one of the most elegant, easy, standards-compliant databases. It is really the one database that makes working with SQL fun.

We believe that within a couple of years, there’s a real chance of PostgreSQL not only beating commercial databases in terms of syntax but also in terms of performance.

Any time you need a data storage system with a slight preference for SQL-based ones, just make PostgreSQL your default choice. You won’t be missing any feature in that database.

Let’s hear it for PostgreSQL.

6. Java

duke Java is almost 20 years old, but it’s still the #1 or #2 language on the TIOBE index (sharing ranks with C), for very good reasons:

  • It’s robust
  • It’s mature
  • It works everywhere (almost, really too bad it has never succeeded in the browser)
  • It runs on the best platform ever, the JVM
  • It is Open Source
  • It has millions of tools, libraries, extensions, and applications

While some languages may seem a bit more modern or sexy or geeky, Java has and will always rule them all in terms of popularity. It is a first choice and with Java 8, things have improved even more.

7. jOOQ

jooq-logo-black-100x80 Now, learning this from the jOOQ blog is really unexpected and a shocker, but we think that jOOQ fits right into this programmer’s must-have top-10 tool chain. Most jOOQ users out there have never returned back to pre-jOOQ tools, as they’ve found writing SQL in Java as simple as never before.

Given that we’ve had Java and PostgreSQL before, there’s only this one missing piece gluing the two together in the most sophisticated way.

And besides, no one wants to hack around with the JDBC API, these days, do they?

8. Less CSS

less When you try Less CSS for the first time, you’ll think that

Why isn’t CSS itself like this!?

And you’re right. It feels just like CSS the way it should have always been. All the things that you have always hated about CSS (repetitiveness, verbosity, complexity) are gone. And if you’re using phpStorm or some other JetBrains product (see above), you don’t even have to worry about compiling it to CSS.

As an old HTML-table lover who doesn’t care too much about HTML5, layout, and all that, using Less CSS makes me wonder if I should finally dare creating more fancy websites!

Never again without Less CSS.

9. jQuery

jqueryWhat Less CSS is for CSS, jQuery is for JavaScript. Heck, so many junior developers on Stack Overflow don’t even realise that jQuery is just a JavaScript library. They think it is the language, because we’ve grown to use it all over the place.

Yes, sometimes, jQuery can be overkill as is indicated by this slightly cynical website:

joox-logo-blackBut it helps so much abstracting all the DOM manipulation in a very fluent way. If only all libraries were written this way.

Do note that we’ve also published a similar library for Java, in case you’re interested in jQuery-style DOM XML manipulation. Along with Java 8’s new lambda expressions, manipulating the DOM becomes a piece of cake.

10. C8H10N4O2

764px-Caffeine.svgC8H10N4O2 (more commonly known as Caffeine) is probably the number one productivity booster for programmers.

Some may claim that there’s such a thing like the Ballmer Peak. That might be true, but the Caffeine Peak has been proven times and again.

Have Dilbert’s view on the matter:

More productivity boosters

We’re certainly not the only ones believing that there is such a thing as a programmer-productivity-booster. Enjoy this alternative list by Troy Topnik here for more insight:

Heavyweights Martin Odersky, Erik Meijer and Roland Kuhn Team up for a Coursera Course

Erik Meijer (famously known for LINQ, lots of other .NET goodies, and tie-dye shirts of timeless beauty) teams up with Typesafe‘s Martin Odersky (Scala Language) and Roland Kuhn (Akka) to bring you a 7-week-course on the Principles of Reactive Programming, starting on November 4, 2013.

This cooperation of sharp minds can only mean good things, far beyond the scope of this concrete course. Sign up for the Coursera course here:

Curious what Erik Meijer is up to these days? Check out his new company Applied Duality, Inc’s website:

The slogan is quite cheeky:

After being stuck for > 40 years in a first-order flat model of rigid tabular data locked up in a closed world, it is time for a developer revolution. It is time to embrace monads and duality to lift the database industry to the next level.

It seems like every great scientist and every great salesman is trying to lift the database industry to “the next level”, these days. Exciting times for database professionals!

Pinterest and SQL vs. NoSQL

I’ve recently discovered a very interesting read about Pinterest‘s architecture experimentation. One of the key messages is the fact that SQL and NoSQL data storage systems can coexist with each of them having their place. Here’s the full article:

This reminds me of a previous article about Instagram successfully displaying how they implemented large-scale sharding on Postgres: