ChemAxon's statement on Oracle charging for Java updates

news · 1 month ago

Oracle began talking about stopping the free support of their long term support (LTS) versions since late 2016, and earlier this year they officially announced 2 important changes in this matter:ref1; ref2

  1. First of all, they will speed up the release cycle of Java versions: every 6 months will see a new major Java version.

  2. Following Java 8, free support will terminate after a new version is released. Oracle Java 8 will be freely supported, at least until January 2019.

This means that Oracle will start charging for supporting a Java version older than 6 months. Many ChemAxon software tools rely heavily on Java, and this made us decide to inform our users about compatibility with different Java versions and runtimes.

OpenJDK version 8

At the beginning of 2018 we started testing our software with OpenJDK, which is a free and open source Java runtime supported by Oracle as a binary compatible alternative.ref3 We chose AdoptOpenJDK’s Hotspot distribution of OpenJDK for tests, mostly because it provides binaries for the 3 major platforms; it is sponsored by multiple large companiesref4, and it offers free LTS with a general support period overlap to transition from Java 8ref5. By now most of our applications can run on this version, or they will be able to use this version in the near future.

Oracle Java SE Advanced 8

This version could be also a safe choice, since Java keeps runtime compatibility throughout the same version by designQ7 on ref6; therefore ChemAxon products will definitely run on Oracle Java SE Advanced version 8 with upcoming minor updates as well.

Java 10, 11 rapid releases

We started the tests with Oracle Java and OpenJDK 10 and 11 release candidates recently. Results show that our test infrastructure can follow the rapid releases and our applications run on the latest OpenJDK and Oracle JRE versions. Java 11 will be a long term supported version receiving commercial updates for 8 years. Since Java APIs are backwards compatible, you can continue using our software on this release after the free 6 months support is over if you purchase commercial support. Please note that you will need to upgrade your Java version rapidly for free support, because there is little to no overlap planned between two versions.

Some dependencies in Java compatibility

In some cases we cannot support Java 9 or higher currently, because of third-party software dependencies. Yet we are confident all of these incompatibilities will disappear by the end of the year. Currently we focus on Instant JChem, ChemCurator and Markush Editor, where the Netbeans and Java FX dependencies require upgrades. Since the Java Web Start (JWS) technology will be deprecated with Java 9 and it will be removed in the near future; we need to solve the Instant JChem JWS related issues. With Java 9, 32 bit support is also deprecated, so we are evaluating whether we need to keep supporting this architecture in the future.

Above we have discussed our current ideas in this matter, but we would be very interested in your comments, suggestions and future plans. Please take a few minutes and share your points below to ensure our alignment with your workflow: