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Sun's Phipps Slams App Engine's Java Support

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the you're-both-pretty dept.

Java 186

narramissic writes "Sun Microsystems' chief open source officer, Simon Phipps, said in an April 11 blog post that Google committed a major transgression by only including support for a subset of Java classes in its App Engine development platform. 'Whether you agree with Sun policing it or not, Java compatibility has served us all very well for over a decade,' Phipps wrote. 'That includes being sure as a developer that all core classes are present on all platforms. Creating subsets of the core classes in the Java platform was forbidden for a really good reason, and it's wanton and irresponsible to casually flaunt the rules.' Phipps characterized his remarks as non-official, saying: 'This isn't something I could comment on on Sun's behalf. My personal comments come purely from my long association with Java topics.'"

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do their own then... (-1, Troll)

wawannem (591061) | more than 5 years ago | (#27563559)

Seems to me they should put their money where their mouth is...

Re:do their own then... (3, Funny)

knewter (62953) | more than 5 years ago | (#27563645)

bahahahaha. Sun? Money?

You've not been here long, eh? :)

Re:do their own then... (2, Insightful)

wawannem (591061) | more than 5 years ago | (#27563955)

You're right... I guess I didn't really think about where the money would come from. But, if anyone has any really expensive hardware sitting around that isn't flying off the shelf the way it used to, I would think it would be Sun. So, maybe they could put some of it to use building a cloud of their own. I've just always been of the school of thought that if you don't like how something is built, build your own.

Re:do their own then... (4, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27563659)

Seems to me they should put their money where their mouth is...

Sun *DID* put their money where their mouth is. They developed java, then GPL'd it. They bought StarOffice, the GPL'd it.

Google, on the other hand, is an advertising company that is trying to get lock-in, same as Microsoft did with their proprietary java extensions long long ago ...

Re:do their own then... (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27563727)

While I agree that google is not Mr. Friendly, I'd be surprised if this particular move is about lock-in. Not because of any belief in google's virtue; but for basic technical reasons.

If you want lock-in, you create a superset of the competitor's platform, or a variant of the platform that behaves differently, then push people to use your proprietary features. Implementing a subset of the competitor's platform just raises the cost of porting to your implementation, and creates no barrier to moving from your implementation to others' implementations.

The java-subset thing seems like a bad idea; and I'd be curious to know why they did it; but I don't see how a platform subset is a good basis for a lock-in strategy.

Re:do their own then... (4, Informative)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 5 years ago | (#27563923)

http://code.google.com/appengine/docs/java/runtime.html#The_Sandbox [google.com]

The Sandbox
To allow App Engine to distribute requests for applications across multiple web servers, and to prevent one application from interfering with another, the application runs in a restricted "sandbox" environment. In this environment, the application can execute code, store and query data in the App Engine datastore, use the App Engine mail, URL fetch and users services, and examine the user's web request and prepare the response.

An App Engine application cannot:

  • write to the filesystem. Applications must use the App Engine datastore for storing persistent data. Reading from the filesystem is allowed, and all application files uploaded with the application are available.
  • open a socket or access another host directly. An application can use the App Engine URL fetch service to make HTTP and HTTPS requests to other hosts on ports 80 and 443, respectively.
  • spawn a sub-process or thread. A web request to an application must be handled in a single process within a few seconds. Processes that take a very long time to respond are terminated to avoid overloading the web server.
  • make other kinds of system calls.

Threads
A Java application cannot create a new java.lang.ThreadGroup nor a new java.lang.Thread. These restrictions also apply to JRE classes that make use of threads. For example, an application cannot create a new java.util.concurrent.ThreadPoolExecutor, or a java.util.Timer. An application can perform operations against the current thread, such as Thread.currentThread().dumpStack().

The Filesystem
A Java application cannot use any classes used to write to the filesystem, such as java.io.FileWriter. An application can read its own files from the filesystem using classes such as java.io.FileReader. An application can also access its own files as "resources", such as with Class.getResource() or ServletContext.getResource().

Only files that are considered "resource files" are accessible to the application via the filesystem. By default, all files in the WAR are "resource files." You can exclude files from this set using the appengine-web.xml file.

java.lang.System
Features of the java.lang.System class that do not apply to App Engine are disabled.

The following System methods do nothing in App Engine: exit(), gc(), runFinalization(), runFinalizersOnExit()

The following System methods return null: inheritedChannel(), console()

An app cannot provide or directly invoke any native JNI code. The following System methods raise a java.lang.SecurityException: load(), loadLibrary(), setSecurityManager()

Reflection
An application is allowed full, unrestricted, reflective access to its own classes. It may query any private members, use java.lang.reflect.AccessibleObject.setAccessible(), and read/set private members.

An application can also also reflect on JRE and API classes, such as java.lang.String and javax.servlet.http.HttpServletRequest. However, it can only access public members of these classes, not protected or private.

An application cannot reflect against any other classes not belonging to itself, and it can not use the setAccessible() method to circumvent these restrictions.

Custom Class Loading
Custom class loading is fully supported under App Engine. Please be aware, though, that App Engine overrides all ClassLoaders to assign the same permissions to all classes loaded by your application. If you perform custom class loading, be cautious when loading untrusted third-party code.

So I would say the reasons behind their decision would boil down to "cutting out the stuff that isn't compatible with the model the App Engine uses to run things".

Re:do their own then... (1)

sohp (22984) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564097)

Sounds like they should have specified a security model that would forbid certain classes and method rather than simply removing classes. Or was that too hard for Google's engineers? As a developer, would you rather have you application fail to run, or throw a completely bizzare ClassNotFoundException: java.lang.System, or run but throw an informative SecurityException when it tried to call System.exit()?

Re:do their own then... (2, Interesting)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564359)

If you are developing for the App Engine, does it matter the flavor of the error? If you aren't developing for the App Engine and you are just looking to port something you've already written over, shouldn't you be reading the documentation concerning it first?

Developer-wise, this should be a non-issue. Unless you were expecting things to just plug in directly, coding to match how the App Engine works was a given anyway.

I agree with the others who opine that this is simply sour grapes from someone too late to the race to have a chance at first place.

Re:do their own then... (4, Insightful)

goofy183 (451746) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564565)

Well sure, If you're re-using a standard library it may have handling for the security exception chain and either fail gracefully or work with limited functionality.

If a JDK class is missing and the library class you want to use references it the code won't even run with an UnsatisfiedLinkError. That is a HUGE difference.

Another case where the library class references a missing JDK class but the use of the library class you're using never touches the forbidden code. In that case you again get a UnsatisfiedLinkError. If the use of the JDK class was just restricted by a security policy you only get the security exception if you actually call the API, a much better alternative.

Re:do their own then... (1)

mellon (7048) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564873)

So it seems like you're saying that what Google did is better than what the guy from Sun thinks they should have done. Because it's *always* better to get a compile-time error than a run-time error.

Re:do their own then... (1)

deraj123 (1225722) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564581)

Well yes, it does. From reading that list, it seems that all of these things that they want to "change" already allow for the changing through a security manager (as the GP mentioned). See, the whole point of Java is that you shouldn't be coding to each custom environment. And, security restrictions are something that any competent developer should be taking into account when writing his code. Therefore, if the environment fails in a somewhat expected, valid manner, developers can (and should) account for that in their code.

Re:do their own then... (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564769)

http://code.google.com/appengine/docs/java/gettingstarted/installing.html [google.com]

And given the SDK they point you to is Sun's and this is Google, how unlikely is it that the things being complained about are actually being managed by a security manager and not actually missing. I.E. Communication error.

Re:do their own then... (1)

goofy183 (451746) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564523)

Yeah I'm surprised they didn't do this. Everything they describe is doable via a security policy configuration file and a single custom ClassLoader implementation.

Re:do their own then... (2, Informative)

sohp (22984) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564901)

I did go to Google review the App Engine Java documentation, what there is of it. It's not clear if a class like java.lang.System (which is whitelisted, btw) locked through security policy or simply re-implemented in some crippling way. A bit of a failure to provide clear guidelines on Google's part, but becomes a real development problem because they've already stated their Java doesn't conform. Programmers are left guessing or having to find out through failure what the actual behavior is.

Re:do their own then... (1)

Sir_Real (179104) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564123)

Then subclass for f***'* sake

Re:do their own then... (4, Insightful)

lamber45 (658956) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564903)

Those restrictions are very siliar to the ones imposed upon Enterprise Java Beans. Quoting from the Sun documentation [sun.com] :

Specifically, enterprise beans should not:

  • use the java.lang.reflect Java Reflection API to access information unavailable by way of the security rules of the Java runtime environment
  • read or write nonfinal static fields
  • use this to refer to the instance in a method parameter or result
  • access packages (and classes) that are otherwise made unavailable by the rules of Java programming language
  • define a class in a package
  • use the java.awt package to create a user interface
  • create or modify class loaders and security managers
  • redirect input, output, and error streams
  • obtain security policy information for a code source
  • access or modify the security configuration objects
  • create or manage threads
  • use thread synchronization primitives to synchronize access with other enterprise bean instances
  • stop the Java virtual machine
  • load a native library
  • listen on, accept connections on, or multicast from a network socket
  • change socket factories in java.net.Socket or java.net.ServerSocket, or change the stream handler factory of java.net.URL.
  • directly read or write a file descriptor
  • create, modify, or delete files in the filesystem
  • use the subclass and object substitution features of the Java serialization protocol

Re:do their own then... (1)

SashaMan (263632) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564933)

This article writer is a tool. Interestingly enough, most of these restrictions (no filesystem access, no sockets, no spawning threads) are EXACTLY the same restrictions as recommended by Sun for EJB: http://java.sun.com/blueprints/qanda/ejb_tier/restrictions.html [sun.com]

Re:do their own then... (1)

davolfman (1245316) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564955)

Those sandboxing restrictions remind me a little of the restrictions already in place for applets.

Re:do their own then... (4, Interesting)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 5 years ago | (#27563931)

The java-subset thing seems like a bad idea; and I'd be curious to know why they did it; but I don't see how a platform subset is a good basis for a lock-in strategy.

Yeah, this is garbage. Watch the "campfire" videos, a boringly large part of the presentations is given over to how you are not locked in, because AppEngine exposes the standard Java servlet container and database access APIs even though it's based on BigTable which is not a standard database. They show how the guestbook app can be taken right across to run on WebSphere with no code changes. The design of Java on AppEngine is pretty much the opposite of lockin - they've clearly put a lot of effort into ensuring a very, very different underlying system can export the standard Java APIs.

As to why it's a subset, I guess the same logic as applied to the Python implementation which is also a subset - due to the way it works the classes need to be audited for security problems. Some of the Java APIs contain native code which probably has to be rewritten or at least very carefully audited to ensure you can't break out of the sandbox. And some I guess just aren't that useful. But I don't really know the reason.

Re:do their own then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27563945)

something about embrace, extend, extinguish - isn't this step 1? not saying that steps 2 & 3 will follow, but there's certainly precedent for this.

Re:do their own then... (4, Insightful)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564051)

While I agree that google is not Mr. Friendly, I'd be surprised if this particular move is about lock-in.

It never is. Whenever somebody modifies standard technology to suit themselves, they get accused of trying to create lockin. That's what happened when Phil Katz [wikipedia.org] decided he could redo the ARC format faster and smaller. That's what happened when Anders Hejlsberg [wikipedia.org] decided he couldn't live with Java's limitations [zdnet.com] . Netscape and HTML. Microsoft and HTML, CP/M, x86....

Lockin does usually occur when people do things in a different way, and the different way ends up being the de facto standard. But that's not why they do them. They do them because developers just plain like to do things their own way.

In the case of Google's "white list" this doesn't even come close to being lockin, because any application that will run on Google's classes will run on "standard Java". Sun's problem is that the reverse isn't true. And I'm not sure that really matters. Unless I've missed something, the missing classes are all legacy cruft that should have been deleted from Java long ago.

So why haven't they been? Lack of will. One Java core engineer told me that Sun got in trouble when they even deprecated an API, never mind removing a whole class. People just don't want to fix up all their legacy code, and Sun was too anxious to monetize Java to stand up to them.

Google has more flexibility, since they don't need for their version of the Java platform to make money anytime soon.

Re:do their own then... (2, Interesting)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564261)

Sun's problem is that the reverse isn't true.

Sun's problem is that they are working up to the general launch of their cloud computing services, and Google AppEngine supporting more than just Python makes it that much harder for any new launch to get traction.

Re:do their own then... (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565019)

Please. Not every shoot-from-the-lip blog entry is part of a FUD campaign.

Re:do their own then... (1)

merreborn (853723) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564555)

Unless I've missed something, the missing classes are all legacy cruft that should have been deleted from Java long ago.

I, too, eagerly await the deprecation of java.lang.Thread, and the loss of the ability to open sockets and write directly to the filesystem. Who needs that cruft?!

In all seriousness, the missing functionality isn't about trimming cruft, it's about sandboxing so that apps can readily be hosted in google's "cloud", and play nice with other apps.

Re:do their own then... (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 5 years ago | (#27563769)

Google is making their Java implementation proprietary by NOT implementing parts of the Java spec (and presumably not replacing it with something incompatible with what's in the java spec)?

I don't see how Google will get lock-in by providing fewer features than their competitors, unless their implementation is so superior, that their competitor's can't provide the same performance.

Note, I am not a Java programmer, and I hope I don't come across something for which Java will be the best way to implement it.

Re:do their own then... (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#27563675)

What, like Microsoft did when it reinvented Java for IE? Do you really want a 3rd version of Java that's not quite compatible with regular Java (counting gcj as the 2nd)?

I'm fine with the GOOG not offering Java support, but what's the justification for only offering half-assed support? It kills the whole point of portability.

Re:do their own then... (2, Insightful)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 5 years ago | (#27563763)

Subtle yet important difference to me, Microsoft released something that did include the 'full set' plus some but didn't work the same as the specs said it should.

Google simply didn't release a full set.

And where Microsoft pulled their stunt to kill Java, I imagine Google did it for technical reasons (i.e. trying to lock down the sandbox) since they have said they want to add more classes to the list of allowed ones.

Re:do their own then... (4, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 5 years ago | (#27563821)

IrI'm fine with the GOOG not offering Java support, but what's the justification for only offering half-assed support?

The justification is the same as Sun has when it creates a limited profile of Java for a special environment, like Java ME: the demands of a special environment.

Re:do their own then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27563857)

Except you have it the wrong way around. Microsoft's Java was extended so that anything developed on it required things not available in Sun's Java. That was lock in. Anything developed with Google's Java will work fine in Sun's Java because it uses less not more.

I know, I know. This doesn't fly with the "OMG Google are the new Microsoft" conspiracy theory that we all know and love.

Re:do their own then... (0, Offtopic)

Ifni (545998) | more than 5 years ago | (#27563905)

As far as I'm concerned, Sun (or anyone complicit in their activities re: Java) lost all right to bitch about this once every new version of Java consistently broke backwards compatibility with previous versions. I'm sick of updating to the latest version of Java and having every existing Java application (I'm looking at you, Cisco) stop working, even though you keep each previous version installed by default. I mean really, what's the point of having a half dozen versions of the JVM installed if the only thing it uses is the latest one?

And yes, I know you can tweak a file here and there to force a given application to use a given JVM (and, if the app - not Java - supports it, Launcher), but that fails to address two important issues - a) that a given java app can't specify what version of the JVM it wants, and b) that even within a given version (say 1.6 update 7 versus 1.6 update 11) the functionality of (and maybe even interfaces to) included objects changes to the point of breaking compatibility.

I used to hate Java (and JavaScript) because it took forever to load, turning a screaming fast Internet connection into a rush hour exercise in patience, but they improved that and I started singing the praises of Java and JavaScript. Then I found that even though JavaScript is still good, Java now drives me crazy because I can't keep it updated unless I want to get under the hood and fix everything it broke in the applications I use. And with the recent trend of releasing an updated JVM once every 2 months or so, this gets very tedious, very fast.

Re:do their own then... (2, Informative)

ultrabot (200914) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564195)

I used to hate Java (and JavaScript) because it took forever to load, turning a screaming fast Internet connection into a rush hour exercise in patience, but they improved that and I started singing the praises of Java and JavaScript. Then I found that even though JavaScript is still good, Java now drives me crazy

You know this already, but Java and Javascript are technologies that are not related to each other in any way, apart from the unfortunate naming. Javascript is as close to C as it is to Java.

Re:do their own then... (2)

LizardKing (5245) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564273)

So your blaming Sun for Ciscos ineptitude. I have code written under the 1.0.2 Java SDK that still runs under Java 1.6. There again, unlike Cisco's engineers I understood what portability was, because I was targeting SunOS as well as Windows.

Re:do their own then... (1)

Hmmm2000 (1146723) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564369)

I thougth the a key feature of java was "write once - run anywhere". Dont blame the developer if a new JVM breaks a java app.

Re:do their own then... (1)

deraj123 (1225722) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564619)

I thougth the a key feature of java was "write once - run anywhere".

It is. Although "write properly once - run anywhere" would probably be more accurate.

Dont blame the developer if a new JVM breaks a java app.

Most issues I have seen with a new JVM breaking a java app is because the app developer was doing something they weren't supposed to. (using com.sun classes, relying on undocumented, "undefined" behavior, etc) If you code to the spec, and only expect methods to do what they say they'll do in the documentation, chances of a new JVM breaking your application are very slim.

As a disclaimer, note that I use terms like "most" and "chances are very slim". There have been exceptions, where a new JVM did break things, but the majority of broken applications are not due to those exceptions.

Re:do their own then... (2, Interesting)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564551)

As far as I'm concerned, Sun (or anyone complicit in their activities re: Java) lost all right to bitch about this once every new version of Java consistently broke backwards compatibility with previous versions.

In some aspects, it is the fundamental deficiency of Java the language. Because all methods are implicitly virtual and all overrides are also implicit, and because override resolution happens at class load time, not at compile time (i.e. if Derived.class derives from Base.class, and both have method void foo(), then Derived.foo will override Base.foo - even if, when Derived.class was compiled, Base.class didn't contain foo yet), you get a specific case of fragile base class problem [wikipedia.org] in Java that's effectively unavoidable.

Re:do their own then... (1)

whiledo (1515553) | more than 5 years ago | (#27563703)

How would Sun producing their own App Engine solve the problem of Google's App Engine not being fully compatible? It'd still be incompatible and still have a lot of users.

Re:do their own then... (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564145)

Seems to me they should put their money where their mouth is...

Sun actually is launching their own cloud computing environment this summer, and has been announcing tie-ins to a lot of their existing products for it ("Save to Cloud", "Load from Cloud" in OpenOffice.org, Cloud related functionality in Netbeans 6.7, etc.) If their attempts to market their cloud offerings fall flat (which AppEngine supporting more than just Python makes somewhat more likely, as they have more competition, though I think Amazon is still the main direct competition for what they plan to offer), Sun's going to have wasted a lot of money and effort.

GOOGLE IS EVIL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27563613)

Sun confirms it!

Pot. Kettle. Black. (4, Insightful)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 5 years ago | (#27563671)

'Whether you agree with Sun policing it or not, Java compatibility has served us all very well for over a decade,' Phipps wrote. 'That includes being sure as a developer that all core classes are present on all platforms. Creating subsets of the core classes in the Java platform was forbidden for a really good reason, and it's wanton and irresponsible to casually flaunt the rules.'

You mean like Java ME [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Pot. Kettle. Black. (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 5 years ago | (#27563793)

The real problem is that Google created their own version of Java ME. Instead of sticking with the existing standard, they came up with their own. And that's bad for everyone.

Re:Pot. Kettle. Black. (4, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 5 years ago | (#27563915)

The real problem is that Google created their own version of Java ME. Instead of sticking with the existing standard, they came up with their own.

Since AppEngine, Google's cloud platform is (while, like mobile devices, a different environment from the standard desktop or server environment for which the Java Standard Library is designed) not a mobile platform, and doesn't have the same constraints that shape the development of Java ME, it's not surprising that they did something different.

OTOH, the justification is the same for having Java ME when Java SE already exists: the environment in which AppEngine Java is being used is very different from that for which SE was conceived, putting unique constraints on it.

I think that Phipps is upset because Sun is in the process of gearing up their own cloud services, and the last thing they want is Google's Java support drawing enterprise interest to AppEngine while they try to get Sun's cloud service off the ground.

Re:Pot. Kettle. Black. (3, Interesting)

sohp (22984) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564035)

What Google should have done was engage in the JCP to define a new profile for supported "device", along the lines of the CDC/CLDC and MIDP. At least that way it would have been within the framework of practice understood and used by Java developers. Instead, Google just said "here's what's available", without tying into any of the already available accepted ways of defining a subset of Java.

This actually looks a lot like what Microsoft got in trouble for with their MS Java.

Re:Pot. Kettle. Black. (4, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564203)

What Google should have done was engage in the JCP to define a new profile for supported "device", along the lines of the CDC/CLDC and MIDP. At least that way it would have been within the framework of practice understood and used by Java developers.

I really don't think that Java developers have much trouble understanding or using a clearly defined subset of existing functionality.

This actually looks a lot like what Microsoft got in trouble for with their MS Java.

What Microsoft did was create an incompatible implementation of core Java classes, supporting similar features but requiring different behavior with the same classes. This has much more serious negative impact than implementing a well-defined subset, since the former makes it hard to move code either way between implementations, and the latter (what Google is doing) makes it very easy to move code off the non-standard implementation (AppEngine) and onto a standard implementation, but somewhat challenging to move code using the unsupported features from the standard implementation onto the non-standard one.

It's actually a really bad thing to do if you want to create lock-in to your non-standard implementation, since it does nothing to keep people from moving off your platform, but makes it harder than supporting the standard would for them to move on to your platform.

Re:Pot. Kettle. Black. (2, Interesting)

jrumney (197329) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564795)

Microsoft didn't actually leave anything out of the APIs for their version of Java, they just made sure that their implementation of AWT sucked even more than Sun's and provided their own proprietary UI API which they promoted heavily. When Sun introduced Swing, a UI framework that sucked a bit less, in Java 2, MS stuck with Java 1.1 and promoting their own framework. If Microsoft had played along, Windows users at least might have had a version of Swing that didn't suck back in Java 1.3 days instead of having to wait for Sun to improve things in Java 1.6.

Re:Pot. Kettle. Black. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27563925)

And that's bad for everyone.

Unless you want things to be free.

PS. if you don't get what I'm saying please refer here [betaversion.org]

Re:Pot. Kettle. Black. (2, Insightful)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564101)

Free or not, at some point you MUST have a standard, or you will not have interoperability. What Google is doing here is no different than what Microsoft has done for years.

Now I'm not saying Java ME is good. In fact, it's awful. But an awful standard is still better than none.

Re:Pot. Kettle. Black. (3, Informative)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564295)

No. Point blank, no.

Go to the end of the line.

Microsoft goes out and deliberately tries to subvert standards by creating implementations that are slightly off, thus preventing anything written for them from being easily portable to another implementation.

Google has gone and created an implementation that works exactly according to spec, except leaving out items which don't make sense in the app model they use. It would be extremely trivial to port something written for Google's implementation to anything else standard compliant.

This is about as similar to Microsoft as a blizzard in the Alps is to a sunny day in Cuba.

Re:Pot. Kettle. Black. (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564385)

It would be extremely trivial to convert something written for Microsoft's broken standards too.

The point is that as a developer, that just means more wasted time on something that's out of my control.

Re:Pot. Kettle. Black. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27564455)


Google has gone and created an implementation that works exactly according to spec, except leaving out items which don't make sense in the app model they use.

No. You obviously have not tried to actually use the fuckup called GAE. It's not a clean subset, or well-thought-out one. I doubt much thought was involved with the design.

It is same god-awful mess as what Android was -- I do agree in that different environments need subsets, actually, but the way Google has done it is both technically and philosophically wrong. Butcher-job of arbitrarily leaving out some classes, introducing others, and having seemingly no logic behind it.

And yes, I have misfortune to (try to) develop on both of these god awful clusterfuck platforms.

I don't think it's due to Evilness. Rather, it's ignorance coupled with arrogance; and in much bigger doses than what Sun has ever offered (Sun has managed the arrogance part sometimes, but less so with ignorance -- they have learnt, believe or not).

"Flout", not "flaunt" (3, Funny)

beanyk (230597) | more than 5 years ago | (#27563673)

Grr.

Re:"Flout", not "flaunt" (1)

spiffmastercow (1001386) | more than 5 years ago | (#27563721)

No, you don't understand. He's actually saying that he is a dick for flaunting the rules, and embarrassing Google to prove his own superiority.

Re:"Flout", not "flaunt" (1)

pelrun (25021) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564411)

No, you don't understand - 'flaunt' doesn't mean what you think it does. You flaunt wealth (that you have) and flout rules (that you despise/ignore).

Of course, people got this wrong enough that even the dictionary grudgingly gives flaunt the alternate meaning of 'ignore'.

Re:"Flout", not "flaunt" (1)

spiffmastercow (1001386) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564511)

No, you don't understand - 'flaunt' doesn't mean what you think it does. You flaunt wealth (that you have) and flout rules (that you despise/ignore).

Of course, people got this wrong enough that even the dictionary grudgingly gives flaunt the alternate meaning of 'ignore'.

No, I got it right, and you have no sense of humor.. He's flaunting his (Sun's) rules, making poor google feel bad about itself. It's an alternate explanation of the meaning of that sentence, with the assumption that the guy typed exactly what he meant.

Re:"Flout", not "flaunt" (1)

reginaldo (1412879) | more than 5 years ago | (#27563781)

Personally i believe the java api to inflate jvm ipl cos imo. Did that have the requisite nyumber of acronyms?

"Wonton", not "wanton" (2, Funny)

FrankDrebin (238464) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564357)

Mmm.

Re:"Wonton", not "wanton" (1)

mapcan (1051372) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564939)

This is funnier than 2! 5 more like!!!

I think Sun is jealous (5, Interesting)

seifried (12921) | more than 5 years ago | (#27563685)

I think Sun is jealous, they have been pushing grid computing for ages and it's been a flop for them. Google is most likely going succeed here, especially with a "good enough" solution which no doubt pisses of Sun/Sun employees (who have a tendency to go for the engineering "ideal" solution which often results in a very nice and extremely pricey product). Witness the container computing stuff, Sun is making a big deal about seismic tests, and Google is quietly deploying hundreds of these things in their data centers. Sun seismic test [youtube.com] vs. Google data center tour [youtube.com] . I bet for most of us Google's Java AppEngine implementation will be "good enough".

Re:I think Sun is jealous (2, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564075)

I hate it when people make snide comments about high quality engineering. Yes, it is possible to hack together a "good enough" system that is fine for consumers and some businesses, but for a lot of applications, a well engineered system is important. In the case of the containers, there are plenty of reasons why you might want to know the seismic test results: maybe you are deploying the container to replace some emergency services IT infrastructure in an earthquake zone, and need to be ready for aftershocks; maybe you just want to transport the datacenter on a railroad, and want to know how well it will hold up while it is jostled around on a flatbed car; maybe you need a datacenter to function onboard a ship, and want to know what effect choppy seas might have.

Where were all these comments when Sun went after Microsoft for this sort of behavior? Back then, everyone seemed eager to watch Sun "stick it to" Microsoft; but when Google is the target of criticism, suddenly the fault lies with Sun. Windows is also "good enough" for most people (and Visual J++ was intended for Java development in Windows), so why treat it differently than AppEngine?

Mountain out of Molehill (4, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#27563705)

As someone who personally loves the Java platform, I honestly think he's making a mountain out of a molehill. As far as I've been able to tell so far, the Google App Engine supports the Java platform in its entirety, with a few caveats. Those caveats deal with the services Google offers (e.g. no JDBC accessible database) and the sandbox the apps run in (e.g. no network support, no filesystem).

AFAICT, there's nothing stopping me from, say, writing a JDBC access layer for their Data Store. Which means that Google is keeping with the spirit of the platform, and that this is mostly just a misunderstanding.

If you want real problems, try running Java apps on a shared hosting provider sometime. The limitations of those sites will have you shouting praise for what Google is offering.

Re:Mountain out of Molehill (4, Informative)

kaffiene (38781) | more than 5 years ago | (#27563893)

Um... no. They're not supporting Threads for a start - which is pretty major. I had a read of the exclusions a while back and there were some significant omisions. I'd list them if I could find the page again, but no luck I'm afraid.

That said, I'm not sure if I see this as a major issue either.

Re:Mountain out of Molehill (2, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564005)

They're not supporting Threads for a start

That would be their locked-down sandbox. You can accomplish the same thing in vanilla Java with a security manager. (Which for all we know, they did. I haven't tried yet.) If the security manager doesn't allow it, you're not using it. Period, end of story.

You may note that everything Google has locked down is either controlled by the security manager or is simply an API to access a service that they don't provide.

which is pretty major

Generally speaking, it's a good idea to avoid multithreading/networking/filesystem access in a servlet environment anyway. That's what the container is for. It manages all those little details so you don't have to.

That's not to say that people don't come up with reasonable uses for such services (e.g. Quartz scheduler), so programmers will have to decide whether they prefer to use Google's locked-down environment with its alternative solutions (e.g. Cron) or if they would rather purchase dedicated hosting and handle all the details themselves.

For me, the answer is straightforward. I have one site that would be nice to move over, but I'm not going to. It makes use of services that Google does not provide. Those services are important enough to me to continue paying for dedicated hosting. On the other hand, I'm working on a new site that has far lower requirements. That one is getting installed on Google AppEngine.

So far I haven't found any limitations I can't live with for the new site (as I said, nothing that can't be restricted with a security manager), so I'm pretty happy. I may change my mind after using it more, but until I run into some hard and unexpected limitations, I'm not going to crucify Google for their AppEngine support.

Re:Mountain out of Molehill (1)

deraj123 (1225722) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564653)

You can accomplish the same thing in vanilla Java with a security manager. (Which for all we know, they did. I haven't tried yet.) If the security manager doesn't allow it, you're not using it. Period, end of story.

I'd really like to know if this is the case. Everything I've read in the list seems to me to be something a security manager could potentially block anyways. I'd like to know if they're throwing a SecurityException in these situations or not.

Re:Mountain out of Molehill (0)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564137)

Um... no. They're not supporting Threads for a start - which is pretty major.

A major improvement. It's now accepted on concurrency wonks (including, no especially, the ones at Sun and Google) that Threads is a disaster. Sun itself would much prefer that everybody switch to the new Concurrency classes [sun.com] , which are not only much more reliable, but a lot easier to use.

Re:Mountain out of Molehill (1)

ultrabot (200914) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564265)

Um... no. They're not supporting Threads for a start - which is pretty major.

A major improvement. It's now accepted on concurrency wonks (including, no especially, the ones at Sun and Google) that Threads is a disaster. Sun itself would much prefer that everybody switch to the new Concurrency classes [sun.com] , which are not only much more reliable, but a lot easier to use.

... and seems to use threads.

Re:Mountain out of Molehill (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564569)

It uses Thread objects. Not quite the same thing. If Thread is no longer a public class, then the various bad idioms that the Thread API. encourages are no longer possible.

Re:Mountain out of Molehill (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564435)

Sorry champ you failed it.

The new concurrency classes are designed to simplify making code safe to use in a multithreaded environment, not eliminate the need for threads.

Re:Mountain out of Molehill (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564945)

You're confusing threads (in the generic sense) with Threads (the Java data type). You can't have multithreading without threads (duh!) but you can easily dispense with Threads as part of the official API.

I'm no expert on this technology, but I do know a lot about the motivations behind the Concurrency classes. That's because I spent 2006 helping to update the Java Tutorial, and spent a lot of time getting indoctrinated by the key people involved in this stuff, including Doug Lea.

Re:Mountain out of Molehill (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564395)

Speaking of your sig - the collection that you link to is seriously outdated (2004? c'mon, that's even before .NET 2.0). A lot of points on it simply don't apply anymore.

What about changing Java's license? (2, Interesting)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 5 years ago | (#27563717)

I realize it's now too late but if it were a few years ago, SUN should have considered changing Java's license to make sure that whoever supports Java, supports it in its entirety.

Re:What about changing Java's license? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564091)

They did. It's part of the trademark license. You can not use the Java trademark without implementing all of the standard classes, the standard language features, and having your code certified as doing so (I think the last requirement is waived in some cases). If Google are calling their product Java then they may be in trouble. If they called it Google Instant Coffee (beta) then they're fine.

Re:What about changing Java's license? (2, Interesting)

burris (122191) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564379)

Google isn't calling their product Java. Google's product is called AppEngine. Google is free to say that AppEngine has "Java(TM) Language Support" without getting permission from Sun or anyone else.

Trademark isn't an absolute monopoly on the mark.

Re:What about changing Java's license? (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564467)

They did that for many years.

As I understand it sun was pulled between two conflicting forces. On the one hand with MS pushing .net they wanted java to be a first class citizen on linux. Otoh they wanted to keep control over java.

Being a first class citizen on linux basically requires being FOSS. If not your package will most likely be either excluded altogether or shunted off to some "non-free" repositry which is not enabled by default and likely has lower standards of maintinance.

After much dithering a couple of years ago they finally announced they were definately going to make java FOSS and over the following years gradually did so. This meant but it also meant giving up some control.

Like J2ME/CLDC? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27563723)

CLDC, the bastardized, stripped version of Java the Sun blessed and which is still the standard on many phones broke the whole "run anywhere" paradigm.

Still causes us major problems since Sun still supports and condones it despite the fact that almost all systems now could easily support a real Java version.

Re:Like J2ME/CLDC? (2, Insightful)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#27563841)

Exactly. I can't help thinking that Java might have been a lot more pervasive and standardised by now (not to mention that the CLR probably wouldn't exist) if Sun had been more open with Java licensing years ago.

Re:Like J2ME/CLDC? (2, Interesting)

israfil_kamana (262477) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564231)

Heh. I had to write an IoC container that would run on CLDC 1.1. Fun fun fun. No Serializable meant I had to re-compile all my code. Love that fragile base-class problem.

Re:Like J2ME/CLDC? (1)

Roadmaster (96317) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564645)

Was going to post about how J2ME does exactly what they complain about: "Creating subsets of the core classes in the Java platform was forbidden", well, Sun itself did it and let me tell you, it makes Java's already convoluted API a nightmare to work with, and is ridiculous when programming on a device such as a Blackberry.

RIM had to provide alternatives to some useful Java classes that are just not present in J2ME, turning Blackberry development into an incompatible and horrendous mess, negating all the benefits of using Java in the first place (not that there are many anyway).

Java ME (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27563751)

Wouldn't the various Java ME configurations be exactly the kind of arbitrary subsets that Phipps is complaining about?

Flout not Flaunt (4, Funny)

onkelonkel (560274) | more than 5 years ago | (#27563765)

The word is flout not flaunt. English is harder than it looks.

Java compatibility has served us all very well for (3, Funny)

Gutboy (587531) | more than 5 years ago | (#27563789)

COBOL compatibility has served us all very well for over a decade, and to develop new programming languages is wanton and irresponsible.

Re:Java compatibility has served us all very well (0, Redundant)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#27563825)

COBOL compatibility has served us all very well for over a decade

You obviously have never used COBOL.

Sauce for the goose... (1)

rewt66 (738525) | more than 5 years ago | (#27563865)

Would we be screaming if it was Microsoft who did this, rather than Google? Yeah, we would be screaming, and rightly so. We'd be worried about Microsoft attempting to create an MS-only ghetto that they lock people into (though it's harder to see how they could do so with a subset, rather than with extensions like they tried last time). We should subject MS to extra scrutiny - they have certainly earned it. But that doesn't mean that Google gets a pass. I know their motto is "Don't be evil", but that doesn't mean that they will live up to it forever.

Re:Sauce for the goose... (2, Interesting)

ultrabot (200914) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564059)

We'd be worried about Microsoft attempting to create an MS-only ghetto that they lock people into

Like .NET?

For most parts, /. seems to be pretty much ignoring what msft is doing these days, as far as server technologies are concerned.

Uh, we did scream (2, Informative)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564131)

Visual J++ was what we screamed about, and Sun sued Microsoft, and Microsoft backed down and took J++ off the market.

Re:Sauce for the goose... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27564241)

No, because you don't have freaking clue about what your talking about. An application that uses a *subset* of java is still a valid java application, and not at all what Microsoft would do. Rather the opposite. Now learn how to read before blathering.

Re:Sauce for the goose... (2, Insightful)

ValuJet (587148) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564247)

How does using a subset of java 'Lock you in' to google? You can take that implementation and go anywhere that has the full version of java available and install your app there. It will work with some configuration changes.

My guess is Google doesn't allow you to play with threads for performance reasons. The file i.o. is because of the system architecture. You need to write to a filesystem, you have to write to memcache.

As someone who is looking to write an app on the engine, some of their stuff bothers me, but I get why they're doing it. If I ever want to take my ball and go elsewhere, I will always have that ability.

AP Java Subset? (2, Insightful)

firefoxman (1290234) | more than 5 years ago | (#27563885)

The CollegeBoard uses a subset of Java in their AP curriculum, and they don't get a complaint?

why didn't they complain about GWT? (2, Interesting)

pohl (872) | more than 5 years ago | (#27563917)

Hmm...I wonder why they never complained about the limited subset of classes that GWT supports [google.com] in client-side code.

Re:why didn't they complain about GWT? (2, Insightful)

lfaraone (1463473) | more than 5 years ago | (#27563949)

Hmm...I wonder why they never complained about the limited subset of classes that GWT supports [google.com] in client-side code.

Because they never said that GWT supports "Java", they said it implements some JRE classes. And like everyone says, Sun is a sore loser for failing to release a usable cloud-computing project.

cutting out the middle man (0)

Jah Shaka (562375) | more than 5 years ago | (#27563977)

great, so first google totally rips of linux and calls it 'android' and now its ripping off java. Combine this with the fact that every company they buy becomes number 1 in their search index, killing of anyone who competes with them, and we get what we deserve. Personally i cant wait for my AI to search the web for me, cutting out the middle man.

Not a full java environment anyway. (3, Informative)

nietsch (112711) | more than 5 years ago | (#27563985)

As far as I have learnt from a few cursory glances at appengine, it does not offer a complete OS environment. It is severely sandboxed, probably as a measure of security. All classes that deal with those non-existing features can either be non-existing, or exception-generating stubs. Google choose for those classes to be non-existent. That is something different than creating this-environment-only classes and functions, like MS did with their corrupted java. But there are prominent links on the appengine homepage to submit your own featers and bugfixes, so maybe all these complainers can contribute patches instead of contributing whine?

Android derives from DavlicVM & Harmony. (!Jav (2, Informative)

bitsofbytes (1460709) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564213)

Technically, Google's Android is a code derivative of DavlicVM and Apache Harmony. Apache Harmony and DavlicVM can be considered as similar to Java. However, Android is Not a subset of Java.

Some links to articles discussing the topic:
http://www.javaworld.com/community/node/2683 [javaworld.com]

Some information on DavlicVM and Apache Harmony:
http://www.dalvikvm.com/ [dalvikvm.com]
http://harmony.apache.org/ [apache.org]

Each VM/platform has its strengths and purpose. There should be room in the IT industry for Java, Apache Harmony, Google App Engine, .NET, Mono, LLVM, Tamarin, Parrot, and many other VM's with their associated programming languages.
Hope you find this information helpful.

yes well, who cares really (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564255)

that Google committed a major transgression by only including support for [snip] Java

there fixed that for you.

and ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27564935)

Scala, JRuby, Rhino/JavaScript, Groovy, ...

Everything you need is there (2, Insightful)

owlstead (636356) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564327)

OK, no Swing, no Corba etc. But I cannot see what part is missing for cloud computing (or any other algorithm. The collections classes (even the thread safe ones), all cryptographic stuff etc. The only thing that really seems to be missing is graphics (images). But for most cloud computing needs, this should be sufficient.

Anything else you may be able to import using the classes from the open source JDK anyway. As long as you don't create files etc. of course, thanks to the sandbox. And we're not talking about a release of another JDK or anything like that, in that case it would be a problem not to include the default functionality.

This seems to be a bit of a cheap shot. He should well know that you cannot display any personal opinions that are directly in his line of work, and then claim that they are not the opinions of his employer. Not in his position.

And what about that beauty called Parcelable? (1)

edivad (1186799) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564421)

I hope the guy didn't notice that, otherwise he'd go bizerk.

HOWTO: Using a SUBSET to create LOCK-IN!!! (4, Insightful)

onitzuka (1303967) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564723)

  1. Remove APIs for Threads, File Access, ThreadGroups, or whatever you feel you want removed (eg. java.io.*, java.lang.*, java.util.*, etc...)
  2. Replace those features with APIs that offer features only available on the Google's application server. (eg. google.io.*, google.threads.*, google.db.*, google.util.*, etc...)
  3. Have developers write their code for your Google application server.
  4. Snicker knowingly because you know that Java Servlet/JSP developers can and do use Threads and file systems and network access in their applications. In fact PHP developers use file systems all the time along with network access. Why do you snicker? Because you know they cannot simply copy their applications to Google App Engine without reimplementing it and creating a version JUST for Google App Engine. As the implementations are different and we know that developers time costs money($$$), managers will eventually have to decided whether to continue to support the open Servlets/JSP implementation (which could be ported to Tomcat, Resin, JBoss, or any others) or if they will just go with the Google App Engine version.
  5. Laugh when they cannot port their applications out WITHOUT reimplementing all of the private APIs.
  6. Profit

Re:HOWTO: Using a SUBSET to create LOCK-IN!!! (2, Interesting)

ValuJet (587148) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564885)

Your theory falls flat when you hit point #2

The following packages do not exist.
google.io.*
google.threads.*
google.db.*
google.util.*

If, in the future, google does add those libraries, I would fully expect them to be opensourced.

Seriously (1)

postmortem (906676) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564789)

Sun should be begging Google to be bought by them, not this. Google gets OS, hardware, development platform and bunch of products it can use for themselves. And all of it for almost a pocket change.

Sun folks often have no clue about Java (2, Insightful)

IQGQNAU (643228) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564905)

Whatever Phipps' experience (of which I have no knowledge), he clearly doesn't comprehend Java security. The whole key to safe code in networked environments is the use of security policies. That includes, in addition to "fine grained" access control over OS operations, the ability to restrict access to classes in the classloader mechanism. This is the same stuff that happens whether you're doing applets in a web browser or a servlet in a web application container (including Sun's Glassfish).

Misnomers? Misuse of words? (0, Offtopic)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564965)

Flaunt vs flaut... there is a difference.

http://grammartips.homestead.com/pairs3.html [homestead.com]
http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/flaunt.html [wsu.edu]

Too bad his publicist/administrative assistant (or, he himself) missed the difference in the words.

(No, i am not bragging nor showing off, nor being pedant. I am just pointing it out...)

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