Parts of Java’s future may still look murky, but at least you can say this: it’s Oracle’s problem, not Apple’s. My previous rants:
Opinion: Apple Has Killed Mac Java; OpenJDK Just Got Way More Important for Processing (executive summary: OpenJDK is the way forward)
Java on the Mac is in Serious, Serious, Serious, Serious Trouble (executive summary: OpenJDK is the way forward, and Apple and/or Oracle have to get involved for it to work)
Happily, Oracle and Apple have indeed gotten involved. I honestly didn’t understand the Apple bashing in this case in regards to Java to begin with, but I’ll say this: Apple has gone above the call of duty in this case. They’re doing the heavy lifting and providing what Java needs to move forward on the Mac:
Apple will contribute most of the key components, tools and technology required for a Java SE 7 implementation on Mac OS X, including a 32-bit and 64-bit HotSpot-based Java virtual machine, class libraries, a networking stack and the foundation for a new graphical client. OpenJDK will make Apple’s Java technology available to open source developers so they can access and contribute to the effort.
Oracle and Apple Announce OpenJDK Project for Mac OS X [Apple Press Release]
That is 100% or more of what anyone could have wished for from Apple. In fact, with that code contributed to the OpenJDK project, it’s even feasible that code from Apple’s implementation could benefit other platforms.
Also important in this announcement: Java 6 will remain in Mac OS Lion. That leaves more time to finish work on OpenJDK on the Mac and migrate projects to OpenJDK.
Now the bad news: the rest of this is in Oracle’s court, along with the theoretical OpenJDK community. And note key words like “the foundation for a new graphical client” – some of this work isn’t done yet.
For people who care about multimedia, that also means looking at new libraries for video and (especially) audio, on each platform.
It’s also worth noting that this is against the background of some seriously ugly battles over the future of Java. The Apple press release is referring to Java 7, which is currently facing what amounts to a technological “no confidence vote.” The Apache Foundation is threatening to leave the Java Community Process that controls standardization of Java in an upcoming Java 7 vote. And Apple, by the way, happens to be a voting member of that same JCP, along with many other entities who may be interested to see the OpenJDK Mac news.
Not enough drama for you? There’s the whole Google Android Java thing, and the fact that Apache also disowned Google’s Java code.
But don’t get me wrong: this is good news. Overheated discussions following the original Java announcement predicted the doom of things like Eclipse and Android development on the Mac, which was never really a threat. Now, desktop development on the Mac with Java is, more or less, in the same situation it always was.
The big breakthrough is that now there’s one path forward for Mac developers, and Apple’s contributions are out in the open. That should allow Mac developers working in the multimedia space to finally resolve some graphics, multimedia, and sound issues. But I still think the state of Java in general will also cause people doing creative work to seriously consider other platforms as alternatives – and that’s probably a good thing, too.