Dear Oracle, Get a Clue

Dear Oracle,

I hate to tell you but you need some help with the  Java community.  The basic problem is that people don’t trust you and you aren’t very good at community building; in fact you are pretty bad at community marketing.

I really really want you to succeed  and community marketing is not that hard.  The first step is to read this really cool book called ‘The Cluetrain Manifesto’.  The basic premise of the book is that communities are really conversations and to succeed you need to be part of and interact with the community.  I know this can be a challenge with all your lawyers and marketing executives trying to ‘control’ the message but you have to do it to gain the trust of the community.  Companies like IBM and SAP manage to do it so you can too.

Right now lots of people are talking about Java but there is a silent void from you.  The conversation is happening and you aren’t participating, so people speculate and hypothesize; not great for building trust.  Let me give you two examples:

1. The JCP Elections started this week.  One of the companies up for a ratified seat is a company very few people have heard about, Hologic.  Seems like a very respectable company but not exactly a mover and shaker in the Java community.  Stephen Colebourne did some research and thinks you guys are trying to rig the JCP Election, speculating Hologic is there to stack the JCP.  So far no one from Oracle has responded.  I am sure you have  a very logical reason for nominating Hologic. Don’t you think it is reasonable to tell the Java community these reasons?  Instead other people are questioning if Stephen’s accusation is true; key influencers like Matt Asay and JaxCenter and btw it looks like Paul Krill, a reporter for InfoWorld is on the story so this will get into the mainstream tech press.  This just isn’t building trust between you and the Java community.

2. I trust you heard the news yesterday that Apple has decided to deprecate Java on the Mac and ban Java applications from the new Mac App Store.    In case you didn’t notice this is a big thing for Java developers.   Lots of them really like Macs.  I don’t expect you to respond right away but James Gosling and  Steve Jobs is already responding.  I fear given your past history of not participating in the conversation there will be a very long silence before any response comes.  In fact this is an opportunity to make the OpenJDK shine.  Get the community to start building and packaging a Mac JVM, embrace the effort and make it part of the standard platforms.  Embrace the community, make open source work for your advantage!

While I am it, I gotta ask if you are talking to the industry analysts about your Java plans?  Analysts like Jeffrey Hammond and John Rymer from Forrester are talking to your customers right now about the future of Java.    Your customers are nervous and are looking for direction.   You need to make sure people like Jeffrey and John know your plans, maybe even ask them their advice?  Other analysts like James Governor from Redmonk aren’t that positive about where you are going with Java.  You have to start participating in these conversations.

The great thing about the individuals in the Java community is they are passionate about Java and really want to help you succeed.  However, you are making it really hard to keep the passion.  Loosen up, talk to people, listen to people, most of us don’t bite but you really need to get a clue.

Best Regards,

Concerned Java Community Member

UPDATE:

Oracle has made some statements about some of the issues around Java, so hopefully they are willing to participate in a conversation.

56 Responses to Dear Oracle, Get a Clue

  1. bdelacretaz says:

    You might want to suggest a unique hashtag that people can use to indicate their agreement on Twitter and in other places. #oraclue might work, looks like it’s unused.

    I did that for my own post/petition to Oracle (about a much more mundane topic, broken URLs) at [1] a while ago and it was quite successful. Twitter search doesn’t return results for my #E17476 hashtag anymore as that’s too old, but Google search returns a good number of results.

    [1] http://grep.codeconsult.ch/2010/07/21/dear-oracle-can-we-have-our-nice-javadoc-urls-back/

  2. Ben Vitale says:

    Felt like an, “Oracle, meet me at Camera 3″ moment, a la Jon Stewart of the Daily Show.

    Thanks for all the great links. I knew there was a lot going on around these announcements but you captured it all in one spot.

  3. steve says:

    Well, let’s look at it like that: Liars try to keep their communication to a minimum, because the more they say they increase the chance being caught lying.

    I’m not really sure that we will ever see some new Java release, they bully and mock everyone who is interested in Java technology. I guess in some years no one who cares about Java is left and they just say “well, developers aren’t interested in these new features, so we just leave Java as it is”.

    If Oracle really plans to provide their own Java to the Mac we can absolutely scrap the idea of having a new Java release in 2011/2012.

  4. Lars Vogel says:

    I believe “The art of community building” from Jono Bacon might also be a good recommendation to read.

  5. Ian Skerrett says:

    @steve I respect you don’t trust Oracle and well deserved. I do know a number of people at Oracle and I don’t think they are liars. As an organization, they need to learn how to communicate to a large community.

  6. Ian Skerrett says:

    @bdelacretaz unfortunately I did not introduce a hashtag early enough. I you search on Oracle and Clue you get most of the activity

  7. [...] Dear Oracle, Get a Clue « Ian SkerrettA bold post from Ian Skerrett imploring Oracle to get involved in the conversation around Java. It's not a beat like Siebel, Oracle DB, and PeopleSoft that you can just milk cash from – or, maybe that's the point and we just have to get used to the community implications thereof. Conspiracy theories ahoy! [...]

  8. Jimmy says:

    And now Doug Lea decides to leave JCP http://gee.cs.oswego.edu/dl/html/jcp22oct10.html

  9. The JCP is basically broken, and Oracle’s stewardship will only exacerbate that. Aside from the reasons of stalemate in specs and companies playing politics rather than using technical arguments, even when there is a spec it doesn’t mean you can get your hands on their “TCK” to be able to participate in their “game”. It can easily be argued that this situation is now even worse since Oracle has taken control.

  10. railes says:

    Dear Linux, Get a Clue

    “I really really want you to succeed and community marketing is not that hard” ??

    Why ?? Why do you want to help Oracle succeed ??

    Oracle and Larry Ellison should be bashed for pirating Red Hat EL and then calling it Oracle EL TM.

    Next, of course, Java will become Oracle Java TM.

    WTF is wrong with you Linux idiots ??

    Larry Ellison owns two 550-foot mega yachts.

    Maybe he wants to join your EU software “community”?

  11. alex says:

    Gone. That’s what has happened to Java on my machines. I hardly used it but was getting toward wanting to again since the appearance of Groovy, Scala, Clojure amongst other things. I really liked jedit but I won’t trust the future of Java the way Oracle are doing things. I know it’s in the server world and yes I’m sure my browsers support it but for anything else it’s gone from my world.

  12. [...] is an OPEN LETTER TO ORACLE & some interesting reading HERE. .topsy_widget_shortcode,div.topsy-sm {display:inline;} [...]

  13. [...] Oracle Needs a Clue As Brain Drain Accelerates October 25th, 2010 10:13 admin Leave a comment Go to comments Hello there! If you are new here, you might want to subscribe to the RSS feed for updates on this topic.The Contrarian writes “It looks like Oracle is not suiting former Sun staff well, nor community members in the Java and OpenOffice.org communities. This weekend saw an unusually large number of rather public departures, with (among many others listed in the article) the VP running Solaris development quitting, the token academic on the JCP walking out and top community leaders at OpenOffice.org nailing their resignations to the door after having the ex-Sun people slam it in their face. The best analysis comes from an unexpected place, with the marketing director of Eclipse — usually loyal defenders of their top-dollar-paying members — turning on Oracle and telling them to get a clue.” [...]

  14. Charles Duffy says:

    Alex –

    Go ahead and continue to learn Clojure — the CLR version of the language is well under development, so you’ll continue to be able to play with it even if Oracle continues to drive Java into the ground.

  15. Roland says:

    Larry Ellison and Steve Jobs are known to be good friends (and neighbors). Why would Steve suddenly deprecate Java? Why would Larry go silent on Java, after spending all that money on it? Did they discuss this with each other? “Friends will help you move, but *real* friends will help you move a body.” Are they digging a hole in Larry’s backyard for Java’s remains?

  16. Anonymous says:

    Maybe this will finally kill the horrible abomination that is Java. Thanks Oracle.

  17. J says:

    Thank god. Java is slow, poorly conceptualized garbage from top to bottom. Nails in the coffin.

  18. Mo Smith says:

    Java did not make any money for Sun, so it’s hardly surprising that better management would cut it loose.

  19. Merit says:

    Maybe Oracle only bought it to be able to sue Google, so they don’t care if Java dies?

  20. Robert Sullivan says:

    I’m a card-carrying JCP member, and I had to wonder about Hologic. What an empty bunch of fluff.

    As far as the Mac, that seems to me to be poor communications. It is a great chance for Oracle – exactly. I wonder if this is Apple’s response to the significant security issues hitting Java right now? Was it too hard for them to keep up with the maintenance required? Some communication on this would be useful, otherwise there are only rumors and speculation.

  21. Oracle is a corporation. They are driven by profits. To corporations, there is no conversation, only domination. The markets are in chaos right now and investors are freaking out over what the Federal Reserve is doing to devalue our currency. No multi-national would invest in America at this moment with our future so tenuously put on the line by the banksters. End the Fed; it is the only way to fix Main Street.

  22. [...] The Contrarian writes “It looks like Oracle is not suiting former Sun staff well, nor community members in the Java and OpenOffice.org communities. This weekend saw an unusually large number of rather public departures, with (among many others listed in the article) the VP running Solaris development quitting, the token academic on the JCP walking out and top community leaders at OpenOffice.org nailing their resignations to the door after having the ex-Sun people slam it in their face. The best analysis comes from an unexpected place, with the marketing director of Eclipse — usually loyal defenders of their top-dollar-paying members — turning on Oracle and telling them to get a clue.” [...]

  23. Anon says:

    It was obvious this was just an overzealous attempt by Oracle to gut yet another company. A good amount of people quit, but really they were already written off. Why is everyone still standing around and looking at the wreckage? It’s over. ;)

  24. Ilgaz says:

    I expected a company sized as Oracle to announce a X11 based OS X Java based on JDK which will work on both PPC and Intel with an exact date of shipment and hiring Mr. Fuller who basically did the groundwork for free to this date. They could also get IBM support for PPC acceleration/hotspot stuff. (It is already there, check IBM JVM for PPC Linux)
    We always knew Oracle and their CEO as aggressive entities who competes that way but it seems we were wrong.

  25. Let it die says:

    Let Java die peacefully.

  26. Larry Zoumas says:

    Please don’t let Java die! I can’t imagine what I would do without all those great Java apps I use every day. Oh wait, nevermind.

  27. kevin says:

    I used Java for 6 years.
    Very poorly designed language and class libraries.
    J2EE was an abomination.

    Move to .NET about 4 years ago, and haven’t looked back.
    Can Java do LINQ? Didn’t think so.
    .NET is light years beyond java.

    • Infernoz says:

      @kevin
      You appear to be either ignorant or a troll; you do realise that .net and C# extensively plagiarised the Java class libraries, so you are talking BS about the Java language and class library design!

      LINQ maybe nice, however Java OSS provides extendible libraries providing equivalent or better functionality e.g. XOM for XML/XPath, numerous database APIS, Object SQL-like APIs etc.

      It is not unusual to see Java OSS libraries ported to .Net, because they are better than existing .Net functionality or libraries; I have not seen any ports in the opposite direction, I think this is telling!

      I do not regard shared language features as relevant, because all the language features in Java and C# come from older languages.

      I’ve used .net and found out the hard way that corrupted installation can be a mega bitch to uninstall/repair or install, especially supplied with Windows, because of the insanely deep integration with the OS and the ridiculously huge numbers of files and registry entries it uses. Visual Studio .net suffers similar issues (from bitter experience), unlike Java IDEs.

      Because of the above .Net mess, it is vastly easier to install/uninstall Java and explicitly use isolated and different version of the JVM/JDK than any .net installation, software deployment is also far easier e.g. just copy a .jar, .war, or .jnlp file!

      Just to rub it in, Android also uses a fork of Java which can be developed for using NetBeans :)

    • Infernoz says:

      @kevin
      You appear to be either ignorant or a troll; you do realise that .net and C# extensively plagiarised the Java class libraries, so you are talking BS about the Java language and class library design!

      LINQ maybe nice, however Java OSS provides extendible libraries providing equivalent or better functionality e.g. XOM for XML/XPath, numerous database APIS, Object SQL-like APIs etc.

      It is not unusual to see Java OSS libraries ported to .Net, because they are better than existing .Net functionality or libraries; I have not seen any ports in the opposite direction, I think this is telling!

      I do not regard shared language features as relevant, because all the language features in Java and C# come from older languages.

      I’ve used .net and found out the hard way that corrupted installation can be a mega bitch to uninstall/repair or install, especially supplied with Windows, because of the insanely deep integration with the OS and the ridiculously huge numbers of files and registry entries it uses. Visual Studio .net suffers similar issues (from bitter experience), unlike Java IDEs.

      Because of the above .Net mess, it is vastly easier to install/uninstall Java and explicitly use isolated and different version of the JVM/JDK than any .net installation, software deployment is also far easier e.g. just copy a .jar, .war, or .jnlp file!

      Just to rub it in, Android uses a Java-like language and class libraries, so can be developed for via a NetBeans plugin :)

  28. Morten says:

    It’s just the nature of the beast… Did you really expect Oracle to change it’s colours just because it bought Sun?

    They’re an old-style proprietary software company. If you want to use their stuff, you pay. they’re going to gradually move all the Sun open software into that model.

    They probably don’t even care about Java or OpenOffice… There’s a pretty good chance they bought Sun purely to get control of MySql, and will just pay lip service to the rest.

  29. Zeno Davatz says:

    Move to Ruby. I do feel that Java is easier to install on my Gentoo-Linux for my Firefox Browser since Oracle runs the howtos. Of course Oracle is driven by profits and Steve does not like Java because of Android. Well an Eric likes Java because he used to work very closely with Java. Android should become less Java dependent IMHO.

    • Ruby? lolwut? says:

      Ruby is for Weeaboos.

      Seriously, if 0 is True but Null is false, your language is not sane.

  30. TheTank says:

    Either half of the people here don’t work in any serious industry or just have no clue.
    Java owns the market because it is just that good. You could not do half the stuff Java does with the other languages out there. Yeah, go ahead and try to find an Enterprise job with your C* skills.
    And chastising Java yet use C#? Yeah, you drunk the CoolAid.
    @Why did Oracle buy Sun:
    Oracle wanted Sun because they have a large coverage of markets.
    Servers, server apps. J2EE instances have databases and run on server and what does Oracle sell?
    They also bought up MySQL. What other signs do you need?
    They want to own the enterprise market.
    @Topic:
    100% ack on the silence from Oracle. All this is leading to FUD and that can hurt you more then anything.
    Sadly there is not much other tech to switch to. Java owns the Enterprise market.

  31. DanO says:

    Programming language job trends to August 2010:

    http://regulargeek.com/2010/08/02/traditional-programming-job-trends-august-2010/

    That might help put things into perspective for anyone looking for programming work: java still holding by far the largest share of the job market.

  32. “Yeah, go ahead and try to find an Enterprise job with your C* skills.” Who in their right mind would want to work in Dilbert’s world?

  33. Jos Hulzink says:

    I can’t help but think that Oracle is the new SCO: A company pushed by Microsoft to kill everything it doesn’t like. Java, OpenOffice, Sun servers (usually not running Windows). Maybe they have a clue, but it’s not exactly the clue you are expecting…

  34. Jose H. says:

    I was neutral on the Oracle buyout. Hoping for the best. OpenSolaris, OOo, Mac Java… Only time will tell with Netbeans/mysql. Not just progress, but licensing changes. I am not Enterprise, don’t want to be. Just a smb consultant. Until Java starts to stabilize, I am not sure I want to play anymore. Really, who is drinking the Kool-Aid. If Mac loses Java, think about the companies that use Java for Tomcat/Glassfish. How long to get a stable JVM?

  35. Alex M says:

    As a Java Application Developer, I could not agree more with Ian’s article.

    To those who criticize Java, get a clue. I am writing music notation and playback software with a 35 millisecond screen refresh and playback response time on my G4 Tower @ 867 MHz. This is my baseline OS X 10.3.9 testbed. More than enough for fast 32nd notes. I also have a 2.0 GHz Windows XP and OS X 10.4.11 testbed. The program works everywhere UNCHANGED. Java 2D renders beautiful calligraphic quality score graphics on-screen, which is printable of course.

    Garbage collection does not interfere because of common-sense object management that a 12 year old could pull off.

    To understand the Java API itself,well, you have to understand Design Patterns. Very elegant.

    .NET is a major failure. Microsoft can’t even repair critical bugs at their flagship .NET implementation at the London Stock Exchange. They dumped .NET for Linux and Java

    Just Google London Stock Exchange .net

  36. harvey schwartz says:

    Oracle is a big company. I envision a lot of VPs & project director types politically jockeying for Ellison’s favor, none having the cajones or authority to really make a decision for fear of ending up on the wrong side of Ellison. Thus, ’til the big E makes up his mind, the mega-yacht that is Oracle is actually rudderless. Brain-drain? People with technical brains are considered commodities, easily replaceable. Would it hurt Oracle if Java stagnated a bit? I think not… So, why pull everything together with force of will & a risk of being wrong, when letting things evolve is way easier? Does Oracle give a hoot who gets hurt? What does corporate history in general tell you?

    • Dadamus says:

      Just like technical brains, VPs, directors, and officers are also commodities. Problem is can institute and corporation can really, really treat them as replaceable commodities? Just look at recent HP vs Oracle showdown. It’s not a pretty site. Oracle hired Mark Hurd, former HP CEO. In return, HP hired Leo Apotheker, former SAP CEO. If you ask me, that’s a quite powerful commodities that can do some damages.

  37. lrn2postnubs says:

    Java was dead before Oracle bought it. Oracle owning it is just the final nail in Java’s coffin. You people are the ones that need a clue.

    • Infernoz says:

      Idiot, Java is vibrantly alive, so much so, I don’t have enough time to look at all the active OSS Java projects for it, let alone all the many active enterprise projects, because I am kept busy developing for several international businesses, and see no letup in demand!

  38. [...] is quick to suggest this looks more like diversification of the committee than stacking it, he also points to a growing distrust Oracle has engendered by largely remaining silent in the face of criticism. [...]

  39. [...] market and Oracle’s “I’m not here to make friends” attitude is creating developer relations vacuums right and left in the Java world at the moment. VMWare/SpringSource are inches away from filling those holes, but [...]

  40. [...] in the Java market and Oracle’s “I’m not here to make friends” attitude is creating developer relations vacuums right and left in the Java world at the moment. VMWare/SpringSource are inches away from filling those holes, but [...]

  41. Z says:

    Oracle is probably doing the right thing.

    Oracle managed to bring IBM on board and support Java development. (maybe the latest copyright infringements against Google have soemthing to do with it since IBM was backing Harmony (the lib google uses in android), Oracle recently provided code copying examples)

    I wouldn’t be worried about Apple, Steve and Larry are buddies, and I am sure they will find a compromise that will best serve their customer interests and pockets. (maybe ZFS will be back on Mac?) Also remember Oracle is developing the Java Store where they will be able to push java apps downstream to any platform. If they implement JavaStore properly on the MAC, all they need is ONE excellent app…

  42. [...] Eclipse Foundation’s Ian Skerrett provided helpful advice to Oracle on working in open communities: The basic premise of the book [The Cluetrain Manifesto] [...]

  43. [...] It’s like all those reality TV shows where everyone says one thing: “I’m here to win, not make friends.” Hopefully Oracle’ll listen to the gentle nudging in the community to win by making friends instead of ignoring them. [...]

  44. [...] communauté de logiciel libre autour de Java. Avec leurs actions, ils montrent soit une effroyable méconnaissance de l’écosystème Java et du logiciel libre en général, soit ce qui serait pire, une [...]

  45. Alex M says:

    Here an example of a great Java power App. A professional 3D content tool called Strata Live 3D

    http://www.strata.com/products/strata_3d_cx_suite/strata_live_3d_cx/

    google Java Strata 3D

  46. [...] escolher esperar para responder publicamente. Mas  Ian Skettett, da fundação Eclipse, acha que a Oracle precisa achar um jeito de como lidar com a comunidade ao invés de tratá-la como clientes. Eu odeio contar, mas [...]

  47. venkat says:

    It seems that Oracle is helping Microsoft inturn, by making java community/developers/customers to think about further projects/products they are forcing to look out for other options, which in other ways would also restrain these people from using Oracle DB…, I have seen such a thing happening at my work..
    GOD save Oracle.

  48. [...] Oracle parece não ter nenhuma idéia ainda de como lidar com isso, e os recente processo envolvendo o Google parece que trará isso a tona [...]

  49. [...] mannen van Eclipse (Ian Skerrett & Mike Milinkovich ) geven aan in hun blogs dat Oracle vooral moet leren hoe om te gaan met een [...]

  50. everything about java…

    [...]Dear Oracle, Get a Clue « Ian Skerrett[...]…

  51. Blad says:

    I’m still Here — Java

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