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What’s next for Java? Take a look at GlassFish.

I’m heading out to the JavaOne conference this week and it struck me that Java has had a very quiet year. Two years ago Sun launched Java EE 5 and almost immediately analysts began to call it a heavyweight dinosaur not likely to survive in an SOA world. Sun and others insisted Java would become more modular in the future, but last year Sun concentrated mostly on client development during JavaOne and it’s most momentous move during that past 12 months was to acquire MySQL, which doesn’t exactly point to any new directions for Java.

So what tea leaves can we read? I asked Brad Shimmin over at Current Analysis his thoughts and he said:

My impression with Java’s momentum is that it has reached a point where the platform needs to remain “consistent” top to bottom while affording specialization — much as Spring specialized as an alternative to EJB. I think Java EE 6 heads in this direction greatly with a highly modular approach that lets ISVs certify against particular aspects of the standard. That’s a good thing. Look at GlassFish for a vision of where this whole modularity thing is heading with its use of OSGi.

Well, sure enough, GlassFish v3 has OSGi support and a bunch of cool little subprojects like RESTful Web services, XML pipeline processing and an Ajax UI. Might we see the relationship between OSGi (and probably the Eclipse Foundation) and Java deepen? Now that would be revolutionary. The JCP page on Java EE 6 also mentions that Service Component Architecture could be part of the Java enterprise platform in the future.

Yet it makes you wonder if Java EE 6 has as much to offer the world as GlassFish v4 … or v5 even. Back in 2005, Sun had two hot new kids on the technology block – GlassFish and JBI. While JBI hasn’t gone much of anywhere, Sun continues to push and innovate with GlassFish. Why break a winning streak? What more can be done with the open source application server? Perhaps the biggest news this week won’t be what’s new for Java, but what’s coming up in GlassFish.

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