Oracle lawsuit unlikely to prompt Java forking

Spring Framework founder Rod Johnson says fragmentation probably won't happen, though Oracle's behavior isn't helping

Oracle's lawsuit against Google over Java patents could alienate some people in the Java space, but the litigation is not likely to prompt a forking of the Java platform itself, the founder of the popular Spring Framework for Java development said on Wednesday.

The lawsuit, filed last month over Google's Android mobile platform, represents "a special case," said Rod Johnson, founder of the Spring Framework and a vice president at VMware. The lawsuit concerns Java Virtual Machine development, which is different from what other players in the Java space are doing, said Johnson, at the VMworld conference in San Francisco.

[ Oracle was right to sue Google, InfoWorld columnist Neil McAllister argues. Keep up with the latest Java developments with the JavaWorld Enterprise Java newsletter.  ]

"It's hard to talk about hypotheticals that I think are pretty unlikely," Johnson said when asked about the possibility of forking.

"I'm not convinced it's going to lead to any fragmentation," Johnson said. A fragmenting or forking of Java could cost Java its prized compatibility pledge, in which Java-certified software will run on any platform compatible with the JVM. Android features Java-like technology called Dalvik.

However, Johnson acknowledged Oracle's behavior leaves open the possibility that some might feel alienated enough to attempt a forking of Java.

In the wake of the lawsuit, Google has backed out of the Oracle-led JavaOne conference to be held later this month -- a move XML co-inventor Tim Bray says happened because of Oracle's lack of focus on developers. But VMware still plans to participate, Johnson said. "It will be interesting to see if it's like JavaOnes in the past," he said. This year's JavaOne conference will be the first held under Oracle's jurisdiction. Sun Microsystems had held the event until being acquired by Oracle early this year.

The Spring Framework is unaffected by the lawsuit, Johnson said, noting that Java development has moved to the open source realm anyway. The community at large does not depend on Oracle, he said.

VMware officials also expanded on Wednesday on intentions for the company's newly announced VMware vFabric Cloud Application Platform, initially referred to simply as the VMware Cloud Application Platform. While currently geared to developers using Spring, VMware is eying accommodations for other development technologies including Microsoft's .Net as well as Ruby on Rails and PHP.

"We will add value around the [other frameworks] that [developers] use," Johnson said.

This article, "Oracle lawsuit unlikely to prompt Java forking," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in business technology news and get a digest of the key stories each day in the InfoWorld Daily newsletter.

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