Long time java developer. Pharma, Environmental Laboratories, Telecom and Banks. Working on a labour of love open source project called Helios. Nicholas has posted 1 posts at DZone. View Full User Profile

Why Are You Still On < Java 1.5 ?

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Although Java 1.6 offers some great new features, and Java 1.7 is on the horizon promising a whole slew more, I still see Java 1.5 as the greatest step forward from the prior versions. I won't bore you with my list of favorites, but what I am interested in knowing is if you are still on Java 1.4.x or below, why is that?

In most cases I found that migrating my code bases to 1.5+ was a codeless change and the returns were generous. The only snafus were cases where the introduction of JMX into the runtime classes created some conflicts, but workarounds were straightforward and simple. These are some of the reasons I have run into so far from colleagues admitting to still being on pre 1.5 JVMs:

  • Code base is static, application runs fine, no issues. Not interested in any change.
  • Some obscure code structures [may possibly] break with Java 1.5+.
  • Supporting applets and deployment plan/user profile requires lowest/lower common denominator of Java 1.x.
  • Target deployment platform/OS does not support or supply a Java 1.5+ JVM.

Any others ? Do you have a plan to get off that old JVM?

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Published at DZone with permission of its author, Nicholas Whitehead.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)


Łukasz Langa replied on Tue, 2009/01/06 - 9:03am

I for one am against articles posed as questions to the commenters. Articles are not supposed to be forum threads.

Still, the main reasons I found were:

  • using future reserved words as construct names (example: the "enum" keyword)
  • depending on already serialized objects (of built-in classes)
  • some important old obscure closed-source library breaks with the newer VM
  • depending on typical performance characteristic of the old VM (example: 1.6 is typically significantly faster but also more resource hungry for large collections than 1.5)

Brian Sayatovic replied on Tue, 2009/01/06 - 9:32am

How about: there has not been enough time/resources dedicated to migrating because we're focused on building application functionality, and the new features in the JDK have not on their own been compelling enough to earn a higher priority.  Much of the ferver I'm now hearing around me is due to the tooling moving on (application servers, IDEs, etc.) with end-of-life support eminent for the existing infratsructure.

Martin Wildam replied on Thu, 2009/01/08 - 5:17am

As I am quite new to Java development, I am not having older applications out there at customers but I do use some desktop applications on my development machine written in Java. I can say that switching to Java 1.6 runtime made them faster without braking anything.

Arek Stryjski replied on Thu, 2009/01/08 - 6:18am

[quote]I still see Java 1.5 as the greatest step forward from the prior versions[/quote]

After 5 years? Strange...

Are you somehow suggesting what Java backward compatibility is a failure? Otherwise I don't understand your post at all.

Charles Sandberg replied on Thu, 2009/01/08 - 2:53pm

I've worked on dozen's of projects of varying sizes.  I've seen whole oranizations frozen in time/java version. (Also due to WebSphere :)  )  On other opensource projects I've seen admin change from 1.4 -1.5 over the weekend with no big consequences.


My opinion is to move to the most current java version as fast as you possibly can.



Danny Lee replied on Fri, 2009/01/09 - 6:43am

I'm on Java 1.5, but because of xdoclet we can't use 1.5 features in many subprojects (and this is quite hard for me, because I startet my career with 1.5 using all the good stuff...)

Pieter van der Meer replied on Fri, 2009/01/09 - 7:30am

For most developers the step towards java 5 proves to be a big one, generics as the main point. But besided that, many companies are defensive. Dont change it when it's not broken.

And yes a lot of application are build with 1.4, so maintanence is still performed on that one. 

I have seen operational support  holding back the migration to Java5 (ugrade to WAS6.1) it was to much work for them ;-(



Nicholas Whitehead replied on Fri, 2009/01/09 - 9:36am in response to: Arek Stryjski

Not at all. What I am saying is that the jump from Java 1.4 to Java 1.5 was the biggest change from one version to another, what with the introduction of generics and annotations. It also provided significantly improved garbage collection, which continues to get better but again,  the improvement from 1.4 to 1.5 was the biggest leap.

 In many instances that I know of directly and many more annecdotal references, people were able to derive better performance and stability in their applications by simply upgrading the JVM from 1.4 to 1.5 and never encountered any issue, compatibility or otherwise. So when I hear about fellows like the other commentors that are still on 1.4, I wonder what the barrier is.

 Obviously everyone has their own standards, but in almost every case, we only write code to the 1.5 spec.  So I like to know the broad categories of reasons why people might not be able to use one of our libs. 

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