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May 21, 2004

Sun reveal what they really think of AOP

Sun have decided to host an AOP panel at JavaOne. The panel discussion's title, abstract, and participants tell you a lot about Sun's views on AOP at the moment.

Update: 25th May. Simon Phipps posted a comment here to say that he is chairing the discussion, rather than taking part. He maintains an open mind on AOP, so apologies Simon for calling you a 'leading doubter.' I doesn't look like I'll be at JavaOne, but next time we're in town together I'll buy you a beer and attempt to persuade you of the virtues of AOP :)

Let's start by looking at the participants in the panel: from Sun's side we have James Gosling (CTO), Graham Hamilton (Distinguished Engineer), and Simon Phipps (Chief Technology Evangelist). The fact that the panel is happening, and that Sun have placed such prominent panelists on it, indicates to me that Sun are taking AOP seriously. If you thought AOP was inconsequential, you wouldn't feature the panel at all, and you certainly wouldn't put such high-profile people on it. The non-Sun panelists are Gregor Kiczales and Cedric Beust.

Now consider the title of the panel and the abstract. The panel discussion goes under the banner of "Aspect Oriented Programming: Great New Thing or Great Leap Backwards?" The abstract is pretty small, so let me just quote it here in its entirety:

"Aspect-Oriented Programming (AOP) technology is receiving a great deal of attention within the object-oriented programming community. Although it provides a great deal of power, it also potentially greatly disrupts program semantics. This session hosts a lively debate between some leading proponents and some leading doubters of AOP."

Since Gregor and Cedric are proponents of AOP, that must mean that James Gosling, Graham Hamilton, and Simon Phipps are "leading doubters." Presumably from the title they therefore believe that AOP is a "Great Leap Backwards," and that it "greatly disrupts program semantics." Quite leading words and phrases.

So there you go. I think it's pretty clear what line Sun will be taking during the panel discussion. I'll leave you with my quiz for the day:

Sun are clearly taking AOP seriously, do you think they view it as:

(a) an opportunity?, or
(b) a threat?

answers on a postcard please...

Posted by adrian at May 21, 2004 11:01 AM [permalink]


In a nutshell, IBM. IBM also does the next greatest thing: SOP (subject oriented programming) as well. (google)

Posted by: at May 21, 2004 11:28 AM

I look forward to watching this panel =)

Posted by: Brian McCallister at May 21, 2004 12:57 PM

Is it X-rated for violence? :-D

Posted by: Lasse at May 21, 2004 03:38 PM

One correction: I am the panel moderator and I am not persuaded either way - I have heard arguments in both directions and am starting with an open mind (although with the hunch that polarised positions will be harmful and that ultimately we need to leave room for use and non-use of AOP). I'm also lucky enough to be moderating the Swing/SWT panel on the same basis :-)

Posted by: Simon Phipps at May 22, 2004 09:01 AM

AOP has qualities. But as an experienced developer I think in the long run it may reveal more inconvenients than benefits, especially for large projects involving multiple actors, development teams, different tools, etc. Some kind of AOP can be achieved with OO programming, and this is the way to go. If you cannot have sources, then you should not have to (kind of) reverse engineer the software or put hooks in it. What makes AOP useful is the deficient software quality (and deficient developer skills).

Posted by: Toto at May 24, 2004 04:40 PM

Toto, This may be true for the many situations where people use AOP when OO will do (the same happens with EJB all of the time), but in reality AOP picks up where OO leaves off and enables you to further abstract away and modularize code oftentimes turning formerly exponential work efforts into constant ones.

Posted by: Bob Lee at May 25, 2004 09:12 AM

Thanks for the update, Adrian :-)

Posted by: Simon Phipps at May 25, 2004 03:39 PM

Why does BEA keep trotting out Cedric for these things when they have Jonas Boner (developer of AspectWerks) on staff? I'd rather hear his ideas...

Posted by: Jason Carreira at May 26, 2004 12:29 PM

Hey Adrian, my last name is spelled Beust. I hope Sun got it right too :-) (where did you get this info, by the way, I didn't know their schedule was already available) And BEA doesn't "trot mt out". Graham asked me if I wanted to sit on the panel and I was glad to agree. Adrian, I'll post a more detailed view on this panel on my blog soon.

Posted by: Cedric Beust at June 7, 2004 11:41 AM

Fixed the typo in your name Cedric, my apologies. The info on the BOF is publically available on the JavaOne website (via the link in my post).

Posted by: Adrian Colyer at June 11, 2004 01:52 PM

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