JavaChannel’s Interesting Links podcast, episode 14

Welcome to the fourteenth ##java podcast. Your hosts, as usual, are Joseph Ottinger, dreamreal on the IRC channel, and Andrew Lombardi from Mystic Coders (kinabalu on the channel), and it’s Wednesday, February 7, 2018.
As always, this podcast is basically interesting content pulled from various sources, and funneled through the ##java IRC channel on freenode. You can find the show notes at the channel’s website, at; you can find all of the podcasts using the tag (or even “category”) “podcast”, and each podcast is tagged with its own identifier, too, so you can find this one by searching for the tag “podcast-14”.

  1. javan-warty-pig is a fuzzer for Java. Basically, a fuzzer generates lots of potential inputs for a test; for example, if you were going to write a test to parse a number, well, you’d generate inputs like empty text, or “this is a test” or various numbers, and you’d expect that your tests would validate errors or demonstrate compliance to number conversion (this is a way of saying “it would parse the numbers.”) A Fuzzer generates this sort of thing largely randomly, and is a good way of really stressing the inputs for the methods; the fuzzer has no regard for boundary conditions, so it’s usually a good way of making sure you’ve covered cases. The question, therefore, becomes: would you use a fuzzer, or HAVE you used a fuzzer? Do you even see the applicability of such a tool? There’s no doubt that it can be useful, but potential doesn’t mean that the potential will be leveraged.

  2. Simon Levermann, mentioned last week for having released pwhash, wrote up an article for the channel blog detailing its use and reason for existing. Thank you, Simon!

  3. Scala is in a complex fight to overthrow Java, from DZone. Is the author willing to share the drugs they’re on? Scala’s been getting a ton of public notice lately – it’s like the Scala advocates finally figured out that everything Scala brought to the table, Kotlin does better, and with far less toxicity. If kotlin wanted to take aim at Scala, there’d be no contest – Kotlin would win immediately, unless “used in Spark and Kafka” were among the criteria for deciding a winner. It’s a fair criterion, though, honestly; Spark and Kafka are in fairly wide deployment. But Scala is incidental for them, and chances are that their developers would really rather have used something a lot more kind to them, like Kotlin, rather than Scala.

  4. More of the joys of having a super-rapid release cycle in Java: according to a post on the openjdk mailing list, bugs marked as critical are basically being ignored because the java 9 project is being shuttered. It’s apparently on to Java 10. This is going to take some getting used to. It’s good to have the new features, I guess, after wondering for years if Java would get things like lambdas, multiline strings, and so forth, but the rapid abandonment of releases before we even have a chance to see widespread adoption of the runtimes is… strange.

  5. James Ward posted Open Sourcing “Get You a License”, about a tool that allows you to pull up licenses for an entire github organization – and issue pull requests that automatically add a license for the various projects that need one. Brilliant idea. Laziness is the brother of invention, that’s what Uncle Grandpa always said.

JavaChannel’s Interesting Links podcast, episode 13

Welcome to the thirteenth ##java podcast. It’s Tuesday, January 30, 2018. Your hosts are Joseph Ottinger (dreamreal on IRC) and Andrew Lombardi (kinabalu on IRC) from Mystic Coders. We have a guest this podcast: Cedric Beust, who’s always been very active in the Java ecosystem, being a factor in Android and author of TestNG as well as JCommander and other tools – and it’s fair to say that if you’ve used modern technology, Cedric’s actually had something to do with it. Really.
As always, this podcast is basically interesting content pulled from various sources, and funneled through the ##java IRC channel on freenode. You can find the show notes at the channel’s website, at; you can find all of the podcasts using the tag (or even “category”) “podcast”, and each podcast is tagged with its own identifier, too, so you can find this one by searching for the tag “podcast-13”.
A topic of discussion from ##java last week centers on code coverage: what numbers are “good”? What numbers can be expected? What’s a good metric to consider? Joseph likes (apparently) absurdly high numbers, like 90% or higher; Cedric recommends 50% code coverage as a good baseline; Andrew targets 70%. Expect a poll in the channel on this! It’s a really good discussion, but it’s not really going to be summarized here; listen to the podcast!

  1. Grizzly – an HTTP server library based on NIO – has been donated to EE4J. That’s not particularly interesting in and of itself, but there’s a question of whether all the projects being donated to EE4J imply an abandonment of Java EE as a container stack. It may not be; after all, EE4J is an umbrella just like Java EE itself is, so this may be very much what we should expect – which makes pointing it out as news rather odd. (The original item was from Reddit.)

  2. Pivotal gave us a really interesting article, called “Understanding When to use RabbitMQ or Apache Kafka.” Kafka and RabbitMQ are both sort of message-oriented, but there’s a lot of confusion about when you’d use one against the other; this article discusses both RabbitMQ’s and Kafka’s strengths and weaknesses. It would have been nicer to talk about AMQP as opposed to RabbitMQ, but the article works nonetheless. Kafka is a high-performance message streaming library; it’s not transactional in the traditional sense; it’s incredibly fast. AMQP is slower (but still really fast, make no mistake) and provides traditional pub/sub and point to point messaging models. The main point of the article, though, is that if you need something other than a traditional model, Kafka is there… but it’s going to involve some effort.

  3. Gradle 4.5 has been released. It’s supposedly faster than it was, and has improvements for C/C++ programmers. It also has better documentation among other changes; Gradle’s good, and this release is important, but it’s not earth-shattering. This discussion veered off quickly and sharply to Cedric’s homegrown build tool, kobalt – and mentioned Eclipse’ Aether library, since migrated to Apache under the maven-resolver project.

  4. More Java 9 shenanigans: Java EE modules – including CORBA, specifically – aren’t part of the unnamed module in Java 9. This comes to us courtesy of InfoQ, which pointed out CORBA specifically – CORBA being harder to reach isn’t really a big deal, I’d think, because nobody’s intentionally dealt with it who hasn’t absolutely had to. And it’s not really a Java EE module, really, so pointing out the removal along with Java EE is accurate but misleading. What does this mean? Well, if you’re using one of the nine modules removed, you’re likely to have to include flags at compilation and runtime to make these modules visible for your app. (See for the actual Java Enhancement Proposal.)

  5. There’s a Java Enhancement Proposal for multiline strings. It’s in draft, but has Brian Goetz’ support; this is one of those features that Java doesn’t have that’s left people wondering why for a long time, I think – every other JVM language seems to include it. This doesn’t come up very often – if it was actually all that critical it would have been done a long time ago – but it’ll be nice to see it when (and if) it does make it into Java. It’s done with backticks; it does not use interpolation. Interesting, though.

  6. Baeldung has an article called “The Trie Data Structure in Java,” which, well, presents a Trie. It’s a good article, and explains the data structure really well – but doesn’t explain why you’d use a Trie as opposed to some other similar data structures. Tries represent a tradeoff between data size and speed; Tries tend to be incredibly fast while being more memory-hungry than some of their counterparts. Incidentally: there’s a question of pronunciation! “Trie” is typically pronounced the same was as “tree” is – while Joe pronounces it like “try” and struggled mightily to concede to peer pressure and say “tree.” Naturally, he was inconsistent about it; early pronunciation was in fact like “try” but, as stated, convention says “tree.” And it is a tree structure…

  7. Simon Levermann, sonOfRa on the channel, published a reference to his new pwhash project, a result of a series of discussions that seem to have gone on for a few weeks on the channel. It’s a password hashing library; it provides a unified interface to a set of hashing algorithms, like argon2 and bcrypt.

JavaChannel’s Interesting Links podcast, episode 12

Welcome to the twelfth ##java podcast. Your hosts are Joseph Ottinger, dreamreal on the IRC channel, and Andrew Lombardi (kinabalu on IRC) from Mystic Coders. It’s Tuesday, January 23, 2018.
As always, this podcast is basically interesting content pulled from various sources, and funneled through the ##java IRC channel on freenode. You can find the show notes at the channel’s website, at; you can find all of the podcasts using the tag (or even “category”) “podcast”, and each podcast is tagged with its own identifier, too, so you can find this one by searching for the tag “podcast-12”.
Not an “interesting link,” but we discuss data formats – JSON, XML, HOCON, YAML, Avro, protobuff, Thrift…

  1. Java 9.0.4 has been released, as part of the scheduled January update. NOTE: This is the final planned release for JDK 9. This is scary; see also Azul’s post, “Java: Stable, Secure and Free. Choose Two out of Three,” which points out that with Java’s new rapid-release schedule, you’re going to have to be out of date, insecure, or financially on the hook to … someone to keep up with security releases. We’ve been wanting new features in Java for a long time; we’ve been wanting more churn in the JVM, too. Looks like we, as an ecosystem, might get to experience what Scala goes through every few months, except at least we have the option of stability somewhere.

  2. Speaking of Scala, we have “10 reasons to Learn Scala Programming Language.” It actually has some decent points to make… but makes them with Scala. That’s dumb. There’s nothing that Scala really offers you that Kotlin doesn’t, and that’s assuming Java 8 and Java 9’s improvements don’t turn your crank themselves. It’s almost got a point with Spark and Kafka (well, it mentions Spark, Play, and Akka, and I’m going to pretend that the author meant to say “Kafka” instead), but… when that’s your real lever for learning a language, it’s time to admit that the language was a mistake.

  3. DZone: “Java 8: Oogway’s Advice on Optional” is yet another attempt to justify Optional in Java. It has a fair point to make: “Optional is not a replacement for the null check. Rather, it tries to tell the caller about the nature of the returned value and implicitly reminds the caller to handle the absent cases.” But … okay. So what? In the end, you still have to write what is effectively pretty simple code, and adding the semantic turns out in practice to mostly add noise to your code without actually making it any better.

  4. DZone: “An Introduction to Hollow Jars”, which I found fascinating but I don’t know why. A “hollow jar” is apparently a deployment mechanism where you have two deployable components: the main one, the “hollow jar” basically has the other component – which is the actual application code – in its classpath, and serves to invoke the entry point of the application. The invoker would theoretically change very rarely, and therefore could be baked into a docker image or some other base image, and the component that changes more often would be soft-loaded at runtime.

JavaChannel's Interesting Links podcast, episode 11

Welcome to the eleventh ##java podcast. I’m Joseph Ottinger, dreamreal on the IRC channel, and it’s Tuesday, 2018 January 16. Andrew Lombardi (kinabalu on IRC) from Mystic Coders is also on the podcast, and this episode has a special guest, Kirk Pepperdine from Kodewerk.
As always, this podcast is basically interesting content pulled from various sources, and funneled through the ##java IRC channel on freenode. You can find the show notes at the channel’s website, at; you can find all of the podcasts using the tag (or even “category”) “podcast”, and each podcast is tagged with its own identifier, too, so you can find this one by searching for the tag “podcast-11”.
This podcast has a lot to say about Meltdown, courtesy of Kirk – who’s a performance expert and one of the people you go to when you really need to figure out what your Java application is doing. The short version is this: Meltdown and Spectre are going to affect everything, due to the way modern CPUs work (listen to the podcast to figure out why – it’s fascinating!) – and Java’s reputation as the environment where you can code and let the JVM magically fix everything for you may be in danger. Intel may have revived the importance of data structures for the JVM singlehandedly – not a bad thing, necessarily, but something Java programmers might have to get used to again.
Kirk also went into the things that make Java 9 worth using – and it’s not modules. It’s the extended APIs and the packaging support, neither of which get mentioned very much because of all the chatter about modules.
The interesting links for this week:

  1. DZone has been putting out a lot of information regarding Java 9’s modules. Up first is “Java 9 Modules Introduction (Part 1)“, which does a pretty good job of walking through Java 9 modules from the basics on up. It’s all command-line based, so no IDE, no Maven, no Gradle – Part 2 promises integration with tooling. But knowing what the tools do is important, so this article is a good introduction, about as good as any other so far.

  2. Another entry from DZone on Java 9 is “Java 9 Module Services”, which could be written to be more clear – it refers to a source repository instead of showing lots of relevant code – but does walk through the old ServiceLoader stuff and then walks through the same mechanism in Java 9.

  3. Speaking of tooling: Baeldung has done a walkthrough of docker-java-api, providingi a guide to a Java client that interfaces with the Docker daemon, providing programmatic management of images, volumes, and networks.

  4. There’s also resilience4j, a fault-tolerance library inspired by Netflix Hystrix.It provides features for limited retries, transaction management, a number of other such things; I haven’t run into a situation where I’ve needed this (transaction management has been enough, generally) but it looks like it might be useful; maybe I’ve made architectural decisions that allow me to avoid using libraries like this because I didn’t want to write the features myself. Maybe if I’d known about this, my choices would be different… hard to say.

  5. Lastly, there’s little-java-functions, a collection of functions that look pretty useful, although not modular at all. This library covers a lot of ground. The lack of modularity probably works against it; since we’ve mentioned Java 9 so much, it’d be nice if it mentioned Java 9 compatibility with modules, but maybe Java isn’t prepared to go that far down the Scala rabbit-hole yet. In the process of recording this, a potential problem with licenses came up – possibly the subject of a future conversation – and the author ended up explicitly licensing the code under Creative Commons, thanks to Andrew.

Javachannel’s interesting links podcast, episode 6

Welcome to the sixth ##java podcast. I’m Joseph Ottinger, dreamreal on the IRC channel, and it’s Monday, 2017 October 30. Scary! Tomorrow’s Halloween.
This podcast covers news and interesting things from the ##java IRC channel on Freenode; if you see something interesting that’s related to Java, feel free to submit it to the channel bot, with ~submit and a URL to the interesting thing, or you can also write an article for the channel blog as well; I’m pretty sure that if it’s interesting enough to write about and post on the channel blog, it’s interesting enough to include in the podcast. (And guess what? That happened this week. See entry #4!)

  1. First up we have two articles about NoSQL from Matt Raible and – “NoSQL Options for Java Developers” and “NoSQL Options for Java Developers, Part II.” They were published almost a month apart. In Part I, Matt mostly focuses on a very general overview of the NoSQL landscape and how he chose what NoSQL products to focus on – which ended up being MongoDB, Redis, Cassandra, Neo4J, and Postgres JSON. In Part II he encourages more of a discussion from some NoSQL luminaries about those five. They’re sharing stories and anecdotes about the databases, and it’s interesting reading, even if a little light on content – but they do have some interesting quips to throw out. One in particular stood out to me: you really should justify using something other than Postgres these days, and while I’m a big proponent of NoSQL, I totally agree. They also point out that some people see NoSQL as a magic bandaid for performance, and that’s simply not the case, at all.
  2. Up next we have “A Gentle Introduction to the Bag-of-Words Model.” The Bag-of-Words is a very common way to help trim down inputs for automated learning, or artificial intelligence; one of the things about AI is that it’s painfully easy to overwhelm systems with irrelevant input. This article introduces one of the most common ways to trim input, by providing a focus on words used most commonly in a bit of text – a corpus – or maybe the least common words in that corpus, too, really. (Which set of words you choose depends somewhat on what you’re trying to do.) Interesting article, fairly well done, I thought. Not heavy on code – in fact, painfully light on code – but bag-of-words is actually really easy to write, so that’s not a big deal.
  3. Java 9 is all the rage these days, even though I don’t know anyone who’s actually deploying it yet. Our next article is “Making JSR 305 Work On Java 9,” which focuses on using the annotations for software defect detection – JSR 305 – along with annotations from javax.annotation, which apparently doesn’t work very well in Java 9, due to the packages being split across multiple jars. Part of the problem is the implementation of the JSR 305 annotations themselves; it’s not really been a problem in the non-modular world, but Java 9 is more strict (and should be) about how modules are implemented. The article shows some workarounds and actually does enable the use of the various annotations (and has some warnings along the way) but I think the greater takeaway is that Java 9 is a sea change for Java. It’s probably one that was necessary – sure, we had OSGi and Java EE to help modularize the JVM, but there were and are crucial limits to those approaches that Java 9 is actually trying to address – but even though it’s been necessary there’s still a lot of pain and technology transfer involved.
  4. We also have some content from ##java denizen yawkat: “How (not) to extend standard collection classes.” It came from a discussion on ##java about someone needing a bounded PriorityQueue. I was being really pragmatic and short-sighted, and suggested just overriding the add() to enforce a limit, but the truth is, that is short-sighted – and yawkat wrote this article discussing why and how to actually extend such classes properly. Very well done, and it’s much appreciated.
  5. Another note about future releases of Java – I was going to say “Java 9” but apparently that numbering system is endangered. There’s a JSR – JSR 383 – for Java 18.3, the release scheduled for March 2018. The main difference I see is in local variable type inference, JEP 286. Type inference is cool – Scala and Kotlin have it and rely on it – and it’s great that Java will get it soon too, but the “Java 18.3” name is going to take some getting used to. I still don’t like it. Maybe this is part of their Halloween pranking: “Boo! It’s Java 18.3!” to which my response is, well, “booooo.”
  6. WildFly 11 Final is available. There are lots of improvements here – not many of them are earth-shattering, I think (and I’m waiting for them to go to WildFly Orange or WildFly Jet Fuel, following Oracle’s ridiculous naming practices – okay, I’ll shut up about how I don’t like “18.3” from here on out.) Anyway, WildFly is the fully open source version of JBossAS; it really is a great product. I prefer it to all of the other Java EE containers these days, even though I usually work on distributed services and not monolithic servers any more. I use a lot of the Java EE APIs without using an actual traditional Java EE container, and that’s the current trend I’m seeing – but I’m pretty sure that my data set is pretty constrained. Congratulations on the release, WildFly people.
  7. InfoQ comes in with the JUnit 5 release announcement. JUnit5 changes some annotations and introduces lambdas into the testing mechanism. It also changes the runner mechanism. It requires Java 8, but that’s okay; everyone should be on Java 8 by now anyway. I really like that JUnit is moving forward; I’m mainly a TestNG user, but TestNG has been pushing JUnit to add features, and I imagine that JUnit will likewise push TestNG to add features. Everyone wins.
  8. Up next we have “Project Loom: Fibers and Continuations for the Java Virtual Machine.” This feels really familiar, actually – there used to be a Continuations feature as part of RIFE, and that was around years ago. But here we have an official continuations and fibers suggestion; fibers are lightweight threads, and continuations allow scheduling of tasks on those lightweight threads. I’m not doing it justice here, but it looks great; it’s a long article, worth the read, notable more for its existence than its actual technical content at this point (but the technical content is a good read. Many other platforms have features like this, so it’s good that Java might get them.)
  9. The Gradle project has published “The State of Gradle Java 9 Support,” an article going over the increasingly popular build tool’s support for and integration with Java 9. Multi-release jars still rely on an external plugin, but the module system is supported by Gradle’s dependency resolution, from the looks of it. This is an excellent practice to have, on Gradle’s part – let people know what is supported, how it works, how to use it, and set the expectation that changes will be discussed and documented. It’s almost like open source; open discussion and knowledge transfer.
  10. Lastly, there’s a call for votes on the OpenJDK mailing lists for a new garbage collector, ZGC. It’s currently a skunkworks project of sorts for Oracle, and is aimed at providing low latency for multi-terabyte heaps, a phrase that gives me the willies. I’ve worked with large heaps before – but mainly through things like Azul’s Zing platform. It’s really neat that the Java ecosystem keeps changing like this, though, in that we gain new feature sets all the time and Java just gets better and better. Now if we could only maintain sane version naming and remember to work together…

Javachannel's interesting links podcast, episode 5

Welcome to the fifth ##java podcast. I’m Joseph Ottinger, dreamreal on the IRC channel, and it’s Monday, 2017 October 23.
This podcast covers news and interesting things from the ##java IRC channel on Freenode; if you see something interesting that’s related to Java, feel free to submit it to the channel bot, with ~submit and a URL to the interesting thing, or you can also write an article for the channel blog as well; I’m pretty sure that if it’s interesting enough to write about and post on the channel blog, it’s interesting enough to include in the podcast.

  1. First up, we have a DZone entry; DZone‘s actually really good at picking out content that’s interesting. However, sometimes you have to be fairly selective about what you read, because they end up like a lot of such sites and go for volume and consistency in publishing as opposed to being selective for stuff that’s truly relevant. That’s why you have things like this podcast, of course, because I clearly know what’s interesting and relevant more than they do! Anyhoo, the actual reference is for Eclipse: “Fifteen Productivity Tips for Eclipse Java IDE Users,” and they’re pretty good; none of them are what I would consider the most obvious (which is: “Use IDEA instead”). The truth is, Eclipse is very popular; anything that helps people use their tools more efficiently is a good thing. Some of the tips are fairly obvious (“use the most recent version of Eclipse”) and others are just things that experienced users might know and use already, but that’s the benefit of articles like this: they make sure that everyone has a baseline of competence. Other tips: switch editors with ctrl-tab; group related projects in working sets rather than using multiple workspaces (this is one of Eclipse’ better features, and I’m glad it’s here); download the sources of libraries; conditional breakpoints and watchpoints; leverage code coverage. There are more (nine more, making a total of fifteen, as the article title promises), and none of them are awful.
  2. Next up: Java 8 updates have an end-of-life: September 2018. Along the way, new versions of Java 9 and Java 8 have been released (9.0.1+11 and 8u151/8u152) – which is good, I suppose, although expected with a new major release – but the big news here is that Java 8 is going to see no more public updates after September 2018. Progress marches on, but I have a feeling this is going to be like the Java 7 migration – which is still ongoing. We aren’t seeing as many people saying they’re still on Java 7 – or Java 6 – as we used to, which is anecdotally a good signal that people are moving to Java 8 after all. So who knows? Maybe with such a recent mass migration to Java 8 there will be momentum to allow people to move to Java 9 – especially if they don’t have to use the module system yet – and people will stay more current.
  3. More DZone: they’re on a roll (and sneak preview: they have two more links after this one). The entry this time is “Artificial Intelligence: Machine Learning and Predictive Analytics.” It’s a fairly high-level guide, and being on artificial intelligence, it’s not just Java – and shouldn’t be. It’s a good reference, though. It’s well-done. I would love to see Java be more relevant in AI; it’s certainly relevant, and is a major player in the space, but the truth is that the starting point for AI is in Python, not Java. The same goes for natural language processing; you can find tools in Java, to be sure (Stanford NLP, for example), just like you can find AI resources in Java (WEKA, among others) but they’re typically trailing the cutting edge. Most data scientists would see a preference for Java as a bit of an affectation. (And I say that because I do prefer Java, and the data scientists I know think I’m a loon for that. They’re probably right.)
  4. This is an old link, but it showed up on my feeds recently, so I’m pretending the publication date of May 16, 2017, is badly inaccurate: Java 8u131 – and yes, 131, 151 is the current build – is transparently aware of Docker memory and CPU limits. Why is this important? It’s because older builds were, well, not aware of Docker‘s machine limitations. The idea is that Docker runs a constrained virtual machine; your actual machine might have 16Gb of RAM, but your Docker image might have 2Gb available to it, and only two of your eight cores. But if you ran an older build of Java in that Docker image, it would use the actual physical machine limits to gauge heap allocation limits and CPU core usage – which could obviously cause problems (your 2Gb image would allocate heap as if it were on a 16Gb machine, which would be incorrect). So… I guess, what with this information being fairly stale, it’s good that they fixed this. And if you happen to be running an older Java, update, please. Note that you do actually need to tell the JVM to use group memory for the heap. This is via two command line options: -XX:+UnlockExperimentalVMOptions -XX:+UseCGroupMemoryLimitForHeap.
  5. Another DZone article! This one is “Automata-Based Programming in Spring.” It really serves as a bare introduction for Spring Statemachine, which isn’t quite what the title led me to expect – I was thinking that I was going to get to read about how to apply cellular automata for problem solving, a la Wolfram Alpha, but instead it’s just a library that makes state transitions easy to manage. It’s a Finite State Machine, not Cellular Automata. This is on me for reading it wrongly, by the way; FSMs are automata, but not cellular in nature.
  6. Daniel Dietrich wrote an article called “Opinionated Database Access in Java” – because we all know that database access has no opinion involved at all, ever. In this case, he’s writing a library that provides yet another abstraction: this one leaves modeling to the database; complex queries are moved to the database; access should be simple and obvious. In other words, it’s one of the Java libraries that provides access to the database services, as opposed to backing up Java data structures with a database. It’s not mature yet (and he provides an example of the API using Scala, too, so it never will be mature.) The only thing is: the article doesn’t provide a reference to an actual project, so it’s all vaporware at this point. Plus, as the lively comment flow indicates, it’s another entry in a space that’s very crowded with possible implementations depending on what you want, from ORMs like Hibernate to JDBC layers like MyBatis and jOOQ.
  7. Java’s version numbers are likely to change. Java has generally followed a semantic versioning approach: you have a major version, a minor version, and a build number (sort of). However, there’s a proposal put together by Mark Reinhold (He Who Controlled Java 9’s Release) to go to a date-based release cycle, so the next release won’t be Java 10, but Java 18.3, meaning “released in the third month of 2018.” There are a few problems with this proposal, and I’m hardly alone in seeing them: one is that there’s not a “major release” associated with the build. With Java 8 versus Java 7, there’s a clear delineation of major versions; Java 8 is the one with streams. Java 9, likewise, has Jigsaw. But the next major feature – let’s say “value types” as an example – might be in Java 18.6 as opposed to Java 18.3, so we lose the ability to easily determine feature groups. Plus, Java applications will have a harder time determining the actual baseline versions they require; right now they can parse out the major version and say “Oh, I’m on Java 8 instead of Java 7” but now they’ll have to factor in the actual release year. Maybe it’s me being a curmudgeon, maybe it’s me resenting how Mark handled the Java 9 release, but I think semantic versioning is still better than the year/month release versioning. With Reinhold proposing it, it’s likely to be approved by fiat; I’m sure it’ll grow on me over time, like a fungus, but I still don’t have to like it. Now get off my lawn!
  8. Last week I highlighted Excelsior JET, which allows delivery of native binaries using Java 8 (so far). This week, we see Steve Perkins writing “Using Java 9 Modularization to Ship Zero-Dependency Native Apps“, using Java 17.10… yeah, the date-based versioning isn’t something I like at all yet. Anyway, it’s just a simple “Hello world” example, but it, like others, is a good start; I like seeing articles like this, because this is how we build a repository of knowledge concerning how to use these neat new features Java 9 provides.
  9. And now for the last of our links, this one also from DZone: “ Java EE Microservices Done Right.” OpenLiberty is another microservice framework, like Spring Boot, DropWizard, or Vert.x, this one focusing fairly heavily on canonical Java EE APIs (as opposed to leveraging those APIs where appropriate as Spring Boot or DropWizard do.) It’s billed as a “deep dive into OpenLiberty,” but it’s really not; it’s really a cursory example with a single JAX-RS endpoint (although it does show live redeployment, which is neat.) The actual OpenLiberty sample application isn’t much to speak of; the redeployment is important, but the main thing the article shows is configuration of the OpenLiberty build, which is probably the most important thing it should want to show. It’s interesting; it’d be interesting to try out.

Interesting Links podcast, episode 2

Welcome to the second ##java podcast.
We have lots of interesting things to cover, so let’s dive in.

  1. Java EE development has moved to the Eclipse Foundation, under the project name “Eclipse Enterprise for Java“, or “EE4J.” Java EE is still the branding for enterprise Java. This move makes Java EE more open; we’ll have to see how well it works under the Eclipse Foundation. We’ll survive either way; it’s a good move for everyone.
  2. RebelLabs’ Developer Productivity Report 2017 is here, almost 72% of the developers said their main programming language is Java 8 – and about time, considering Java 7’s been dead for two years; IntelliJ IDEA is the most popular Java IDE at 54% with the respondents, and one of the survey questions says that 91% of the people who like it said it’s because of superior functionality, as compared to 13% of Eclipse users and 73% of NetBeans users. Some other things that stood out: small teams are the norm, with teams of three to nine people making up half the teams, with medium-sized teams (10-19) coming in at 22%. Hmm, maybe a team of nine people isn’t actually all that small. It’s a great report; you should check it out.
  3. Given Java 9’s release and new features, it’s expected that a lot of migration articles are coming up. Sure enough, DZone’s in play with one that shows migrating a Spring app to Java 9. It has some module-based concerns and walks through fixing them; it’s not exhaustive, but it’s likely to be representative of early adoption efforts.
  4. Nicholas Frankel discusses some clean coding standards around lambdas. It’s easy to decide that a tool is available and thus must be used everywhere, he says – actually, he says that developers act like children and we have to play with our new toys, which is probably a pretty appropriate description. He shows a fairly ugly way to use lambdas primitively, then shows how it can be made a lot more developer-friendly. It’s not exhaustive, but still worth looking at.
  5. According to InfoWorld, Java 9 is not going to receive long-term support. That doesn’t mean it’s not supported, but that the long-term support plans are different than what we’ve seen in the past. Long-term support releases are going to be made every three years, so that’s the baseline for support plans; we’ll have to see if (and how) this affects Java in the long run.
  6. Up next: another DZone link, this time on Java’s Optional. The author, Eugen Paraschiv (from Baeldung) offers Optional as a tool for functional programming, and I suppose he’s right, in a way. The article does a good job of walking through most, if not all, of what Optional can do for your code, including with Java 9, and he does say that Optional is meant as a return type and not a property type, which is … better than he could have done. The article’s worth reading, and is done at much more depth than many similar articles.
  7. We also saw mention of OpenTable’s embedded PostgreSQL container. This allows us to treat PostgreSQL as if it were an embedded database (well, sort of); considering that PostgreSQL is a lot stronger for production use than, say, H2 or Derby, this is a nice way to do database-oriented integration tests on a “real database.” That’s not to say that H2 or Derby aren’t real databases, but they’re anecdotally used in the Java ecosystem more as embedded databases to help with integration testing than as production databases. Of course, now that I’ve made that assertion, I expect RebelLabs to ask something about this on their next survey and completely demolish my statement. Thanks ahead of time, guys.
  8. A bit more on Java 9. RankRed has “What’s new in Java 9,” covering a bird’s-eye view of the changes: the module system, new versioning, the Java Shell, a better mechanism for compiling for older versions of Java, JLink, compact strings, high definition graphics, new factory methods for collections – catching up to Kotlin and Scala, better networking and serialization security, Nashorn changes, a new random generator, segmented code caches, dynamic linking of object models, and an enhanced garbage collector. Whew, that’s a lot – and I left some out. It gets better, though: The Java 9 readme points out that the default JCE policy files now allow for unlimited cryptographic strengths, a feature that the RankRed list left off.
  9. Spring 5.0 has gone to general availability – it’s been released, in other words. Support for Java 9, Java EE 8, functional variants, Kotlin, a new reactive web framework… all kinds of goodies for Spring fans.
  10. Kotlin 1.2 Beta is out. Kotlin is another JVM language; this one’s from IntelliJ, the people who bring you the IDEA editor family. There are a lot of little improvements here, including some things that can drive you crazy during normal development – there’s also multiplatform support, which is important even if you’re like me and only really deploy on the JVM.
  11. We mentioned ZeroTurnaround early in the podcast – the RebelLabs report – but it’s worth noting that in addition to the developer survey, they also released JRebel 7.1, with Java 9 support, Spring 5 support, and a bunch of other things too.

Okay, that’s this week’s podcast – thanks for listening.

Interesting Links – 2017/Apr/26

Yes, it’s been a while, I’ve been busy and I’m the only curator of this content:

… and just because I have a weird sense of humor:

randomUser> This code would run really well if it didn't keep waiting for the PRNG to determine the sign of a random number.

Interesting Links – 14-Feb-2017

  • From DZone: Distributed Systems Done Right: Embracing the Actor Model is a reference to a webinar (ugh, “webinar”) from Lightbend on, well, the Actor Model, a way of representing distributed services. Powerful model, even if you don’t use Actors as described.
  • TwelveMonkeys is a set of additional plug-ins and extensions for Java’s ImageIO. It includes BMP, TIFF, JPEG, PNM, and a few others.
  • From user u1dzer0: Awesome Asciidoctor: Include Partial Parts from Code Samples describes how AsciiDoctor can extract, well, partial code samples from a block of code. Given Java’s verbosity (not a bad thing, but a still thing that many people don’t like), having a way to ignore code can help focus on relevance. (Also see: Dexy.)
  • JSON is the new Data Transfer Object is a short reference to JSON – Javascript Object Notation – in Java EE. JSON is becoming one of the more popular serialization formats (and I use “becoming” sarcastically – it’s very popular already). For better or for worse, it’s time. This isn’t a long article, nor is it very deep – but it touches on something that’s become more and more important over time.
  • The Deadly Diamond Of Death In Java 9’s Module System discusses a problem Java 9 has with automatic modules, when a dependency has two names but one resolution path. (Confused? Read the article – it describes it better than I do, but at much more length.)

An Aside About Scala

A mailing list that was pretty popular back in the day recently had some activity asking about Java 8. The discussion itself was a little bit interesting, including a reference here and there to other languages… like Scala. Kirk Pepperdine wrote a post that absolutely riveted Your Humble Author, and may have actually convinced him to stop bothering with Scala except where absolutely necessary. I’d like to quote it here, since Yahoo!’s web page formats things poorly sometimes:

I personally don’t feel that Scala offers any advantages over Java. If you take away the opinions on style, I’d argue that moving to Scala actually leaves you at a slight disadvantage. First, point, the JVM support for languages other than Java was quite poor until Nashorn. Nashorn was actually 2 separate projects. One to get JS running in the JVM and the second was to refactor the JVM to isolate the APIs needed to support alternate languages. Scala hasn’t been able to take advantage of those changes as of yet and I’m not sure they are interested in doing so. Next is tool support. The Java tooling chain is and remains quite broken in 8. I fear that this situation will get slightly better in 9 but then changes there will batter the tooling china quite badly. Unless the Scala people step up to the plate (and there is no evidence of them doing so to date), the dismal state of the tooling chain in Scala will continue to get worse. I currently see very little motivation for companies to invest in the work needed to improve the tooling in Scala. Though I see that this might change, every time I’ve previously thought it might get better, something in the market changes and Scala takes a hit and things don’t get better so my track record on predicting this is admittedly very poor. But then I’m predicting improvements in this area and they’ve simply not happened.
What makes me more hopeful is that I know of a couple of very big projects running in stealth that are based on Scala. These projects are big enough that they’ve really been hurt by the weak tooling story in Scala and I imagine or can only hope that they will start to look at fixing the problems they are facing. Many of these problems are baked into the JVM so to fix them, we need to further fix the JVM’s support for alternate languages. The feeling I get coming from some JVM developers is that it’s the JVM that is past EOL. Maybe Graal will be the thing that replaced HotSpot… not sure… all I know is that the JVM is past due for a huge refactoring and simply don’t see anyone.. certainly not Oracle funding that effort.

I’ve “played”with the new features and to be honest find the Scala implementations cleaner and easier to write and understand.

To say that Scala is less verbose than Java maybe true in the small but I’ve found it not to be so true in the large. Reachability in a language is very important and deserved or not, Scala as the reputation of not being so reachable and hence not so readable. IME, almost everyone one I know struggles with the readability of Scala even those that have been using it for quite some time. This is not to say that Scala code can’t be read, it’s simply that Scala code not naturally easily readable and hence people struggle with it.
I think we had the same types of problems with Smalltalk. People resisted Smalltalk for some of the same reasons and in cases where C/C++ wasn’t so desirable we saw teams jumping to Java. In this era I think the current alternative to Java is Go. The buzz around Go is more marketing and hubris than reality but it has a buzz and level of activity that feels familiar to the buzz that we say with Java in it’s early days. Just like people kicked the tires and sniff around Smalltalk and then moved on, I get the same sense here with Scala.

Java is starting to give under its own weight of patched-on features, IMHO.

On the contrary, I think that Brian has done a wonderful job integrating Streams and Lambda’s into Java. The only thing I can complain about that makes things a wee bit difficult is this aversion to mutable state. Fine if you don’t like mutable state but that streams make the mutable/immutable decision is an overreach on Brian’s part. It disallows a valid model that we need to work in. It’s different than how everything else works in the language. Streams are inherently single threaded and thus concurrent modification of state is a concern that lies outside the internals of a Lambda expression. IOW, Java != Scala in that Scala had immutability baked into (just about) everything right from the beginning. Brian did consider these points when he designed Lambdas and he opted for his bias towards immutability.. so be it.. All I know if that Lambda’s do not feel like they are patched on to me. They feel like a natural part of the language… much better than the earlier proposals that were tabled. The work on ValueTypes and type inference is also focusing on making sure that the added features do not feel like bolted on bits and that they fit naturally into the current language. Brian’s idea was to create small changes in the language that have a huge impact on your code. While I don’t agree with all of his choices I do think he’s done a brilliant job.
Regards, Kirk

Interesting Links – 18 Nov 2016

Today’s apparently a Microsoft edition of the interesting links! Almost everything relates back to them this time…

  • From wyvern: “The Error Model” is an article discussing… exceptions. Exception handling and the “checked or unchecked” question is (still) controversial in Java; article provides some interesting context on error handling approaches, and explains how error handling evolved in Midori (Microsoft’s experimental research OS). A fundamental decision when choosing to make your API throw a checked or unchecked exception is whether or not a particular error is considered fatal or not. This is frequently a murky question: if you’re writing a one-off script, IOException may be fatal, but for a long-lived daemon, it should be handled safely and not rethrown to the top level. While we obviously can’t use Midori’s exact approach in Java, the thought process exhibited is helpful when deciding how to structure your APIs to allow tidy error handling. The whole Midori blog series is worth reading, if you’re looking for more.
  • Microsoft has announced that it is a Linux Foundation platinum member. My, how things have changed…
  • Speaking even more of Microsoft, it looks like they’ve finally open-sourced their SQL Server JDBC driver, and it’s hosted in a Maven repository. Typically, people use jTDS instead, but this is potentially great news; it’s not clear offhand what the advantages are compared to jTDS, but the more options you have, the better, right? Plus, this is another example of Microsoft actually contributing to the larger ecosystem, something many are still not used to. Now, if they could only make SQL Server less of a pain to work with…
  • Finally, stepping off the Microsoft train, user asgs pointed out Simon Ritter‘s “20 Years Of Java Deprecation,” which details the list of accumulated deprecated classes and methods in the Java runtime library. It’s actually a really low number given Java’s maturity (maybe that’s a sign of maturity?) — and it also points out that hardly anything is actually removed, although that will change with Java 9, with a whopping six methods being removed.