Java developers are up in arms over the recent release of Mac OS X Leopard, and the sudden silence from Apple regarding the future of Java 6 on the Mac. Not only did Leopard not ship with Java 6, but Apple has quietly taken down the developer preview of Java 6, and is reportedly deleting threads in the Apple developer forums asking why.
As anyone who has attended a developer conference in the past few years can attest, developers as a group are some of Apple’s best customers. If only Apple treated its developers with as much reverence.
Not only did Leopard not ship with Java 6, but Apple, in typical fashion, apparently thinks it has no obligation to its customers to inform them about why the plans changed, and when (or even if at this point?) Apple will ever have a working copy of Java 6.
Now, it’s obvious that Apple hasn’t dropped Java completely. As many developers have pointed out, Apple did do plenty of work on its version of Java 5 for the Leopard release. Ben Galbraith recently gave a run-down of his favourite Java improvements in Leopard, based on Apple’s Release Notes for Java 5 on Leopard, for example.
But still, despite what is now going on two weeks of furor in the Java community, there is no word from Apple about the state of Java 6 on Mac OS X.
On the one hand, there is speculation that its release is imminent, based on Apple’s history of releasing Java 5 within weeks of Mac OS X Tiger. On the other hand, the significant improvements Apple made to Java 5 for the release of Leopard cast doubt in my mind over whether Apple has done any work on Java 6 lately.
None of this would be anywhere near as frustrating if Apple would simply break its stony silence. It’s one thing to hold back announcements of new products to maximize their marketing impact, but keeping your most important allies—developers—in the dark about the future of major technologies like Java is no way to do business.