Mac OS X will still have Java in the future.

There has been lots of stuff written recently about how Java on the Mac has been deprecated.

The reality is that one particular Java runtime has been deprecated: the one that Apple write themselves. Java as a language will still be available, only it won’t be Apple that writes it and possibly it might be an optional download.

The confusion is because up until now there has really been only one Java runtime on the Mac, which Apple wrote themselves using code licensed from Sun. Now Apple has chosen to discontinue their own particular runtime, but this doesn’t mean that there won’t be any Java at all.

There are already alternatives, in particular the OpenJDK and SoyLatte variants; a little rough in places possibly, but they definitely work. Undoubtably in time they will improve and others will appear, including possibly an Oracle one.

Obviously it would have been nice to have the deprecation notice and an endorsement of another runtime made at the same time, but given how long it will be until the current runtime becomes unsupported, I’m not terribly concerned.

Also, whether such a future Java release has a native visual appearance is not of virtal importance. While the Apple Java team has made enormous efforts to get it to look and feel native, it takes quite a bit of work to create an application that looks seamless. The very first version of SQLEditor was a Java Swing application and although it looked fairly good, it was taking too much time making things match exactly. Switching it to a native cocoa application made my life much easier (but killed off any immediate hopes of a Windows version)

I think most people accept that Java Swing apps don’t look native and will accept that the visual appearance will differ.If you want a truly native feeling Java app in the future you should look at SWT or better Rococoa, not Swing.

What is important is that future Java runtimes don’t require X11 for Swing. But I’ve seen good progress by several projects towards this goal and I’m not worried about it either.

Ideally of course, Apple would release their Java Runtime as open source, but whether they are in a position to do that with respect to licensing is unclear.

Having seen the deprecation notice last week and been somewhat concerned, I’m now fairly confident about the future of Java on the Mac,

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