updated 09:55 pm EDT, Mon October 25, 2010
Keep Java development on the Mac, says leader
An open-source Java/Swing developer and author has opened JKoala, a donation-funded project which intends to port the Abstract Window Toolkit (AWT)/Swing under Mac OS X/Cocoa and help complete OpenJDK in a timeframe that allows it to be used with Mac OS X 10.7 "Lion," which is not likely have its own Java runtime or native development kit. The project is currently the only announced way to run Java in 10.7, though other solutions may emerge before Lion is expected to be released, sometime next summer.
Project head Emmanuel Puybaret is soliciting for donations to begin the project -- which he hopes to start in December -- with a goal of 50,000 Euro, or approximately $70,000. He has written two best-selling books on Swing and Java, developed the open-source Pure Java AWT Toolkit and created the Sweet Home 3D interior design application in Swing. If the funding goal is not reached in the next 60 days, all donations over $42 will be refunded via PayPal (minus any applicable fees PayPal may charge).
The action comes in response to Apple's recent move to deprecate its own Java runtime, suggesting that native Java support will be removed in 10.7 and left to others -- such as originator Sun Microsystems (now owned by Oracle) -- to supply runtimes to the Mac community. The initial reports sparked enough of an outcry that Apple CEO Steve Jobs felt obligated to clarify the note on Apple's reference library in response to a developer's email, blaming the deprecation on "timing issues with Oracle" that resulted in the Mac version always being a step behind, which Jobs added "may not be the best way to do it." The note implies that Sun (now Oracle) could potentially take up supplying the runtime for Macs themselves, but this still leaves the future of Java development on the Mac in some doubt -- particularly for developers wishing to use open-source tools.
If successful, JKoala will be released under the GNU GPL license (with classpath exception) and hosted on Sourceforge.
Users of Java applications on the Mac from Leopard upwards are not expected to see any short-term changes, as the company has already pledged to update the existing implementations of the Java runtime engine "through the standard support cycle of those products."