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The Great Java 8 Debate

Java 8 has enough significant changes to keep developers occupied for years ahead

Java 8 has been reengineered and the most significant enhancement in this release is Project Lambda Expressions for the Java Programming Language.

To be more comprehensive, the standout features of JDK 8 are Project Lambda the Nashorn JavaScript Engine and a new Date and Time API.

Al Hilwa is program director for software development research at IDC and he says that right now, with this release, the changes related to Lambda expressions are the most important single new thing in SE 8.

"Lambda should be seen as part of the drive to make Java attractive for use in parallel processing architectures. Other capabilities in SE 8, like the Streams API, are also focused on parallel processing, while others, like Project Nashorn's faster JavaScript engine, are about performance in server workloads," said Hilwa.

Jigsaw Modularization of Java
Hilwa looks ahead and says that Project Jigsaw, or the modularization of Java, is probably the most important next big thing to come in the next major Java release (Java 9), and it will be critical for Java effectively supporting new devices and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Principal analyst at Ovum Michael Azoff says that Java 8 will be "jumped on" by the software houses producing Java based applications/products.

"Many large organization users will delay upgrading to version 8 depending on availability of third party frameworks, libraries, and application servers having upgraded to the new release. The cost of a major upgrade can be prohibitive as internal certification and testing are necessary to measure any impact in the changeover on software applications," said Azoff.

All the libraries, frameworks, tools they have to be certified as compliant - and this is a long process.

Azoff continues, "Oracle's plan to split the platform overhaul across two versions goes back as far as two years ago and a key architectural reform planned for version 9 is Project Jigsaw, the modularization of the Java platform. However, Java 8 has Compact Profiles, which is an interim feature that allows developers to reduce the Java footprint before full modularization is available. Each of the three successive profiles is a superset of their predecessor (starting with compact1), with Java 8 Standard Edition (SE) a superset of compact3."

Functional Programming Foundations
Founder and CTO of JFrog Yoav Landman thinks that Java 8 is a big step forward for Java, bringing functional programming to the building blocks of the applications and libraries, and bringing Java closer to languages like Scala.

"It also promotes cleaner, easier-to-follow code. In that respect, Lambdas and Method References probably have the biggest impact on developers and introduce what I believe is the most substantial syntax changes to Java since Generics were introduced in Java 5," he said.

"Though the new functional aspects really change the way people code, coming from a strong Groovy background the new syntax changes are not new to JFrog. Still it is exciting to have them as part of the core language. Changes such as streams and optionals are also nice, removing the need to rely on external libraries. Of course, Java's policy to remain backward compatible also means that changes cannot be implemented across the board - but instead as additions. This results in some implications, for example: Map, still lag behind their functional implementation in other languages," added Landman.

How Will Developers Learn Java 8?
Oracle also conducting a worldwide tour of Java User Groups (JUGs) and plans to deliver educational events for nearly sixty JUGs in over twenty countries on six continents.

An updated Java SE 8 training curriculum will be available soon from Oracle to help developers transition to Java SE 8 and implement the latest platform enhancements.

The Last Word
The last word here comes from Ovum's Azoff when he says that Java 9 will complete the major overhaul of the Java platform but Java 8 has enough significant changes to keep developers occupied for years ahead.

More Stories By Adrian Bridgwater

Adrian Bridgwater is a freelance journalist and corporate content creation specialist focusing on cross platform software application development as well as all related aspects software engineering, project management and technology as a whole.

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