James Gosling Unplugged

August 10, 2007

Earlier this week, James Gosling fielded a variety of questions from the San Diego Java Users' Group. Subjects ranged from the deeply technical to the ridiculously political, and the entire event was simply great. Here, in no particular order, were some of the highlights:

  • Question: "What's your least favorite word?" Answer: "Action Item." My kind of guy.
  • Virtually all banking transactions on the planet are processed by Java code.
  • The NASDAQ is a single computer running a Java program.
  • Backward compatibility in Java is a huge problem; everything in rt.jar is used by someone somewhere so nothing can be taken out. The Calendar class is the overengineered monstrosity that it is because there are people, such as those building historical databases, who absolutely need it.
  • The decision whether to include a library in core Java is deeply political. Having your organization's library in rt.jar apparently carries a great deal of prestige, a fact that has bedeviled efforts to pare down core Java.
  • The reason we have JDK 1.4, 1.5, and 1.6 rather than 4, 5, and 6 is that the contracts Sun negotiated 10+ years ago with its partners required renegotiation if the major revision were ever incremented. It was easier to just never increment the major revision.
  • SWT was a major sore spot. Looks like Gosling's going to have the last laugh after all, though.
  • Sau Paulo has two Java users' groups of about 6,000 members each. Their meetings regularly draw 1000+ attendees. According to Gosling, Brazil is one of the world's software hotspots.

Some of these things certainly seem plausible, but others less so. If you've got any information one way or the other, I'd like to hear from you.