Thursday, 18 September 2014

Java Versions War

Java is portable, so you can run your Java applications on any operating system which supports Java.

But in our days this is not enough. Your clients may have a Java version like 1.6, 1.7 and even 1.8. We do not talk here about old versions prior to Java 1.6. Major changes in Java language were done in 1.7 and 1.8 versions bringing some unseen problems to your applications.

This is the case if your applications depend on many third-party libraries and frameworks. Why? Because your libraries and frameworks may be old and you need to update them. And sometimes, updating a framework is not as easy as changing the version number inside your maven pom file. Changing a framework may involve changing server version, other libraries and many times changing even java code.

So it is not as easy as it seems to make your applications work on all Java versions. First you have a minimum Java version specified to users. This is ok, it is a requirement. But you should make your application runnable with all versions which are equal or bigger to minimum version.

When a new Java version appears, you should check if your application can run on it! If it cannot, you should make it to! Otherwise, you will be informed by your clients and "your image" will not be the same to them.

Let's take some small examples.

1. You have a Java 1.6 application server /client  and you want to offer an Web Service to access a JDBC connection through it. You create a class:
public class Connection implements java.sql.Connection

and you implement your methods. Someone who uses Java 1.7 and your web service client will tell you he cannot use your web service. Why? Because in Java 1.7 Connection class has more methods and these are not implemented by your web service. In this case, your client must use Java 1.6 or you should upgrade your application to Java 1.7 and implement new methods.

2. You have a third-party library in your application. For example xstream 1.3.1  it gives an error with Java 7. So you will find out you need to use a version bigger than 1.4.

3. Someone has already Java 1.8. Your server uses AOP with aspectj library and you have a 1.5 aspectj version. He tells you the server does not start because an error is raised and the aspects cannot be weaved. You will find that aspectj library you have does not work with Java 1.8 and you must upgrade it to 1.7 version.

What do you must understand from this? Do not take for granted that if your application works with Java x version it will work automatically and flawlessly with any Java version y > x.

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