On this week’s podcast, Wes Reisz talks with Brian Goetz. Brian is the Java Language Architect at Oracle. The two start with a discussion on what the six-month cadence has meant to the teams developing Java. Then move to a review of the features in Java 9 through 12. Finally, the two discuss the longer-term side projects (such as Amber, Loom, and Valhalla) and their role in the larger release process for the JDK.
* The JVM’s sixth-month cadence changed the way the JDK is delivered and planned. While it definitely provides more rapid delivery at expected intervals, the release train approach turned out to also improve flexibility and efficiency.
* Oracle JDK and OpenJDK are almost identical. Most of the JDK distributions are forks from OpenJDK with different bug fixes and backports applied. So the difference between the distributions now is largely which bug fixes are picked up.
* Local Variable inference (which was released as part of Java 10) illustrated the tension on making changes to the language. Many people wanted the change, but many others felt it would enable people to write bad code. Oracle had to balance the two views when making the change.
* The number of Java versions allow finer grain decision making on what is appropriate for an application. With the adoption of containers, applications are bundled with an exact JDK version rather than having to use one from a systems level. The different versions give developers more options.
* Incubating features are new libraries added to the JDK. They were offered starting with Java 9 as a way for people to test and offer feedback more rapidly. With Java 12, preview features will be released. Preview features are similar but are core platform and language features.
* Shenandoah and ZGC are both low latency garbage collectors. They originally came from different sources. While both garbage collectors are similar, each has different performance characteristics under different workloads. The two garbage collectors represent options available to JVM developers.
* Most non-trivial JDK features take more than six months to develop. Longer term side projects like Amber, Loom, Valhalla are where these features are developed prior to being released with a version of the JDK. The projects range from language enhancements to concurrency work.