Strong opinions, weakly held

Leopard and Java

Yesterday, Michael Urban had some harsh criticism for Apple’s handling of Java in Leopard. There’s a lot of discontent in the Java world because Java 1.6 (err, Java 6) did not make the cut for Leopard, and Urban says that Java 1.5 (Java 5, if you work for Sun) is broken in Leopard as well.

Ben Galbraith throws a bit of water on Urban’s complaints, pointing out that while Apple did not deliver Java 1.6, they don’t appear to be pulling back on their commitment to Java in general.

What’s interesting to me is that all of this grousing regards client side Java, which I tend to associate mainly with Java development tools. I guess it’s good that there are still people out there who care about being able to write applications in Java that look like native Windows and OS X applications. Everything I write in Java winds up in a WAR file.

Update: Ted Leung posts about open source Java and how it might have made it easier for Apple to get Java 6 into Leopard.


  1. Why does Sun stick to 1.x for the internal version number while branding the things 6.0 etc (at least they’ve dropped the “Java2 5.0” crud)? Is there some bunch of code out there that checks that the major version is 1 and they are afraid to break it (kinda like the user-agent string affect where IE and Firefox are still “Mozilla”?)?

  2. Gruber had some great links breaking this down, including Java timeline on OS X and his own commentary on how Java isn’t a priority for shipping OS X. Now, just because it isn’t a priority for shipping doesn’t mean that it wont get taken care of (see first timeline link).

    Also, RCs of Java 6 are available through ADC. So, you know…it’s coming.

  3. I found it puzzling that the chief complaint from from w/in Sun. Um, maybe they should find a way to either make it work or explain why it’s not done yet? I don’t see how it’s Apple’s problem, given how crummy java support has been since the epoch. Last I looked, Apple was shipping a mainstream UNIX-based OS to home and business users — something Sun could only dream of — with lots of Open Source goodness. How easy is it to roll out the VM and SDK code on new platforms? I presume it’s harder than it is in Ruby or perl — both of which seem to be fine on Leopard or any prior versions of OS X.

    If java is truly open source, this suggests that the 10+ years of java development hasn’t gone into making it easy to deploy. OS X has been out for 6+ years now. Does no one at Sun have developer seeds to work from?

  4. My understanding is that Apple does the Java customization for OSX, not Sun, in an attempt to keep it very closely integrated with the OS. Kinda like the deal with Microsoft back in the early days of Java that went very badly for everyone involved.

    I think it was a bad idea for Sun to have ever outsourced platform-specific Java tweaks to OS-owners, who have little incentive to keep the write-once promise intact (see the Microsoft deal, though I don’t suspect Apple has similar motives). But a few years ago, Sun probably wouldn’t have seen the benefit in working hard to support OSX themselves.

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