I talked about how I thought Sun was drowning back when Chet Haase left Sun and joined the Flex team at Adobe. It wasn’t that without Chet Sun was screwed, but rather it was a sign of how things were going. The client team lost big players like Scott Violet, and then Chet.
Well, more heavy hitting engineers are leaving. When the CTO of the client division moves on (to Adobe again, no less), we yet again have a reason to wonder what is happening at Sun.
It is ironic that the exodus of talent has happened at the same time as Sun promotes JavaFX at JavaOne. As I asked people “How is JavaOne going for you?” at the end of last week I got a common response “Cool to see everyone, but I don’t get JavaFX.” JavaFX is a mistake in my book. I haven’t met anyone who was truly excited about it, and who didn’t think that Sun could be putting their engineers on better tasks.
When talking about the symbolic “Why <> instead of !=” in JavaFX Script, I was told “JavaFX Script isn’t meant for you, it is meant for designers.” Fair enough, but:
- What a gratuitous change. Designers somehow feel closer to <> ??
- Do you realise that you have THOUSAND OF JAVA ENGINEERS at JavaOne that you are talking too? I may have seen one designer.
Shouting about JavaFX is like shooting fish in a barrel, and it is easy for us to sit on the sideline and quarterback Suns demise, but what I find so frustrating is that Sun has a ton of assets. It doesn’t actually HAVE to go this way. Although there isn’t a Steve Jobs to come back and save the day, like Apple did (even if Steve didn’t do it all), Sun could change course.
I personally think it is time for Sun to be humble. Re-engage the Java developers. There are more Java developers than any other platform …. still. The army at JavaOne filters into the keynote ready to be inspired. They don’t want to feel ignored thanks to JavaFX.
Along with your Java army, you also have a fantastic platform that is deployed all over the world. The JVM is phenominal, and could be the platform for much more than Java the language. JRuby is doing great. Scale is promising. Jython. Awesome work, but lets put more into it and take it to the next level. Make the JVM the best platform for dynamic languages as well as static. Don’t through every dynamic feature into the Java language as they will split the community. Instead, keep Java Java, and dynamic folks can jump into JRuby, Groovy, and the myriad of other choices on the JVM.
Although people weren’t head over heals with JavaFX (and its non announcement), I did talk to people who were actually excited about the Java Plugin. Ken Russell is doing a great job, and imagine what they could do if they pushed there. The Web has won. Java could be a great way to push the Web forward. Instead of thinking about the applet as a way to draw rectangles, think of it as an extension mechanism. Using it for our Wii demos was simple. There is much exciting work that could be done here. My old “Ruby in the browser” work is not a lot cleaner with JNLP support, and JRuby builds out a JNLP package ready to rock and roll.
Use your power in the Enterprise. Instead of the current Java EE focus, how about also making a productivity play. Make Java the most productive way to build phenomenal applications. Come out kicking and screaming at next JavaOne saying:
- No CEOs of Sony Ericsson this year
- No Neil Young
- This keynote is about YOU, our developers, and everything we show in the next two hours ships TODAY
- In the next two hours we will show you how excited we are about how you can deliver world class applications on the Java platform.
Get people off their seats. Inspire them. Cull the bleeding and move on. The assets are in place, now it is time for the momentum to change.