One year back at Oracle and my first year of #openjdk

Today marks the end of exactly one year since I started back at Oracle, working on OpenJDK and other things.  It’s been a heck of a year, and a lot has changed.  Many things I thought would be hard, turned out to be easy.  Unfortunately, many things I thought would be easy, are still in progress.

Here’s a really quick summary on some of the high/lowlights of my first year:

  • Working with Dalibor is a pleasure.  As a manager, my key responsibility to Dalibor is to make sure he doesn’t burn out – which is a challenge, because he’s maniacal about the Java community.
  • I was blessed to have Cecilia join the team a couple months ago.  She’s brings a lot of development experience from running JRockit sustaining engineering and is going to be instrumental over the coming months in making OpenJDK build/test/qa more accessible and understandable to OpenJDK participants.  It’s an area I unfortunately neglected from a PM perspective over my first several months, and am so glad to have Cecilia able to help.
  • I personally wish I had more time to do technical and speaking type engagements.  I managed to do about a dozen or so events, JUGS, conferences this past year, and even got to write some code (!) and talk about what’s new in Java 7.  Unfortunately, though, I tend to be doing more internally focused activities – including closing up some loose ends from the SUN days.  It’s actually a lot of fun though, as I’m working with a diverse team who are all keen to keep moving the ball forward, and trying to pickup the pace.  The phrases “technical debt” and “process debt” comes up a lot.  And I’m getting to work with and meet all kinds of interesting people and companies that are keen to keep ramping up their participation.  So, it’s not all hum-drum.
  • I underestimated the scale and momentum of the Java platform.  My whole technical career has been focused on “Enterprise Java” and “Tools”, so I thought I knew all there was to know about Java.  HA!  Java is in more geo’s than I ever imagined, and there are some amazing niches in all kinds of componentry that I had never heard of.
  • I underestimated the legacy of Java.  This actually leads to one of the areas we’re struggling – opening up the infrastructure in OpenJDK.  When I joined last May, I had expected the bug tracking system to be migrated to JIRA in ‘a few months’.  Unfortunately, it’ll still be a few months.  It’s easy to underestimate the effort, until you experience the history.  The Java code base is starting to get onto twenty years.  Thousands of developers have touched the code base in that time.  Millions of developers have used the code, and billions of desktops, servers and devices are executing the code.  When you have that level of inertia, it’s really a challenge.  Everyone agrees in the direction!  But it’s like trying to steer a battleship – it takes a wide berth.

– Don


About DonaldOJDK

This blog is for both personal and professional topics. Nothing here should be considered official for any past, present or future employer (or my wife and kids)!
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