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So much happened in 2011 but most of it focused around a few interesting centers of action. We look back at the year from a programmer's perspective.
HTML5 and all that
You can't deny that success of HTML5 and the demise of all things .NET and most things Flash came as something of a shock. The writing was on the wall but it all came tumbling down much faster than anticipated. But the story of HTML5 in 2011 has already been written so we won't go over it all again. Let's focus on some of the other events.
Java 7 takes centre stage
After HTML5, 2011 can be characterized as the year of the language. We had revivals and new births aplenty. Perhaps the most complex and compelling story is what happened to Java. After much worry about what Oracle would do to the language, and after Apache resigning from the JSP, the update to create Java 7 went quite well. Everyone seemed pleased with the progress and few bothered to comment that the best had been postponed for the next version just to make it possible to get something out of the door. Overall Java is clearly revitalized but all eyes are still on Oracle as if waiting to see what damage it can do to the world's most popular language. After all, it managed to split the OpenOffice community to create LibreOffice and then gave up and decided to give OpenOffice.org to Apache - could it get any worse?
A development that will probably have to wait until next year for a verdict is the release and open sourcing of JavaFX 2.0. Back in 2010 it all looked bleak for this new Java UI with it essentially being trashed before a replacement was available. However the new JavaFX beta looks good and might even allow Java programmers to escape the stereotype of the server's best language. Java 7 and JavaFX 2.0 could put Java back on the desktop and interacting directly with users.
COM is back!
Windows now has WinRT which is a C++ COM based API for creating the new Metro style apps. The theory is that you can use any language you like to create a Metro app but it seems clear that C++ is the king among poor second choices. In the Microsoft world C++ gains ground at the expense of C# which is perhaps the only language to have suffered damage this year.
The strange thing about 2011 is that few seem to have noticed the way Microsoft is refusing to support WebGL which brings 3D graphics to the web and has to be a key to the long term success of HTML5 web apps. Why isn't anyone getting annoyed that Microsoft is holding things back as per usual? Perhaps we might see an IE9/10 backlash in 2012.