OK the headline isn't completely accurate but who could resist it? James Gosling - the man who invented Java - has left Oracle - which recently took over Sun.
James Gosling represents the soul of Java in many programmers' mind. He invented the language in 1991 and has guided it for many years under the continued support of Sun. Although Sun kept control and ownership of the language, Java, being free if not open source has long represented the free spirit to Microsoft's more commercial approach to languages.
Essentially many regarded Java as almost open source and hence something safe to base the future on, free of purely commercial manipulation. Of course this gave Sun the problem of trying to make money from something they were honor bound to give away. This they did in the time honoured way of supplying the extras at a cost but made comparatively little money. A fact which made Sun see itself as a hardware company first and almost an accidental software company. This probably made it easier for Sun to be a benevolent overseer of the Java development community.
When Oracle took over Sun the very obvious worry was where would Java go under the direction of a new driver? Oracle tried hard to say that everything would be fine and claimed to be interested in developing and supporting the language. Larry Ellison (CEO of Oracle) said that Java is important to Oracle
"because it allows us to extend our own platform and build applications on top of it."
he also said:
"Java was the single most important software asset we have ever acquired.”
just the sort of comments to send a cold shiver down anyone reliant on Java technologies.
Oracle has a reputation for establishing market dominance in any area it considers important and unlike Sun sees itself as a software company. The chances are that Sun will try to make Java profitable.
The rumours and prediction of a split into Oracle Java and the rest of the world's Java were already circulating and the loss of Gosling is bound to exacerbate them.
It isn't clear why Gosling quit but the move was announced recently on his blog where he is being widely quoted as saying
"As to why I left, it's difficult to answer: Just about anything I could say that would be accurate and honest would do more harm than good."
He also stated that he hadn't got another position and is planning to take a break for a while. Even so it's hard not to speculate that other Java companies are rushing, albeit quietly, to add him to their credentials. A company with Gosling would have a lot of weight if an alternative flavour of Java was to emerge without Oracle.
One has to ask the question of what exactly Oracle is doing to scare away experts like Gosling and others.
James Gosling's new blog is now up and running after the old one went missing on the Oracle site.
"This is the new home of my blog. It contains all of my old blog entries from Sun: Sun's blogging policy gave bloggers rights to their own works. The few more recent blog entries that I did at blogs.sun.com were written under somewhat more strict policies :-)"
more at: http://nighthacks.com/roller/jag/