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Oracle’s Latest Release: Oracle Java Platform Extension for Visual Studio Code

In a significant move aimed at enhancing the development experience for Java programmers, Oracle recently unveiled its Oracle Java Platform extension for Visual Studio Code. This release brings a comprehensive Java development environment to Microsoft’s widely popular code editor, ensuring seamless integration with Maven and Gradle projects.

As of October 18th, developers can find the Oracle Java Platform extension within the Visual Studio Marketplace, specifically designed for Visual Studio Code (VS Code). This extension caters to the entire software development life cycle, offering a seamless transition from code editing to compiling, debugging, and testing. Notably, the extension supports class-level and variable refactorings, making it a valuable asset for Java developers.

The initial release of the Oracle Java Platform extension provides a host of features, including project visualization, intelligent code completion, error detection and highlighting, and efficient navigation to variable definitions. Moreover, it boasts support for unit testing through JUnit, ensuring that developers can test their Java code within the VS Code environment.

Oracle’s decision to develop this extension reflects a shift in the way developers interact with their Integrated Development Environments (IDEs). Previously, developers would select a programming language and then choose a compatible IDE. However, with the increasing popularity of language-agnostic IDEs like Visual Studio Code, this dynamic has changed. Many developers now anticipate robust support for a multitude of languages within a single, versatile IDE. Visual Studio Code has become a staple for a wide range of developers, including students and professionals working with various programming languages alongside Java.

The core of any VS Code extension for a programming language is a language server. In this case, Oracle’s Java language server lies at the heart of their extension, performing essential functions that encompass the language’s tools and seamless communication with the IDE through the Language Server Protocol. It’s noteworthy that Oracle’s Java language server is a streamlined iteration of one originally developed for the Apache NetBeans project.

One of the standout features of Oracle’s extension is its utilization of the OpenJDK javac compiler for code editing and compilation. This approach ensures that the extension remains up-to-date with the latest Java Development Kit (JDK) features as they are introduced. Oracle’s VS Code extension promises to provide support for both the current JDK releases and upcoming versions. At the time of the extension’s release, JDK 21, launched in September, was the latest available version.

It’s worth mentioning that Microsoft, too, has not been idle in the realm of Java development tools for Visual Studio Code. Microsoft offers an Extension Pack for Java, which encompasses a suite of extensions aimed at simplifying the process of writing, testing, and debugging Java applications within the VS Code environment. These initiatives from both Oracle and Microsoft underscore the commitment to providing a robust and versatile platform for Java developers using Visual Studio Code.

Oracle Introduces Free License for GraalVM

Oracle has recently announced that its GraalVM Java virtual machine and Java Development Kit (JDK) equipped with advanced compiler technology will now be available for free. This move enables developers and organizations to utilize and distribute Oracle GraalVM without the need for a click-through license agreement. The company’s decision, announced on June 13, extends the availability of Oracle GraalVM for JDK 17 and JDK 20, as well as future releases, at no cost, including regular security updates. These releases will be governed by the GraalVM Free Terms and Conditions (GFTC) license, granting free usage rights, even for production deployments. Redistribution is also allowed, except when accompanied by a fee. Additionally, for long-term support (LTS) releases like GraalVM for JDK 17, Oracle will provide free GFTC releases until one year after the subsequent LTS release.

GraalVM stands out by pre-compiling Java applications into standalone binaries, resulting in faster startup times and reduced memory and CPU consumption compared to applications running on the standard OpenJDK JVM. Moreover, GraalVM extends its support to other languages such as Python, JavaScript, R, and Ruby, offering runtimes or implementations for seamless integration. Additionally, GraalVM enables the execution of programs compiled to the WebAssembly binary instruction format.

Oracle has also confirmed that it will continue to provide GraalVM Community Edition releases under the GNU General Public License (GPL), maintaining the same terms as Oracle builds of OpenJDK.

Oracle Corporation Expands into Generative AI Services

In a move to capitalize on the growing demand for generative AI services, Oracle Corp., renowned for its expertise in database technology, announced a strategic partnership with Toronto-based startup Cohere. The collaboration aims to develop a new cloud service that enables enterprise customers to create and train large language models (LLMs) using their private data while ensuring data privacy and security.

Oracle’s founder and chief technology officer, Larry Ellison, confirmed the partnership during the company’s recent earnings call, where he highlighted Oracle’s substantial growth in the cloud business. The longstanding relationship between Oracle and Cohere, along with Oracle’s participation in Cohere’s recent $270 million Series C funding round, has fueled speculation about this collaboration.

Ellison emphasized the vision behind the partnership, stating, “Cohere and Oracle are working together to make it very, very easy for enterprise customers to train their own specialized large language models while protecting the privacy of their training data. Over the next few years, lots of companies are going to train their own specialized large language models.”

As part of the collaboration, Oracle’s internal application development teams have already started utilizing the Cohere AI cloud service on the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI). The service leverages Oracle’s private data to fine-tune and expand existing Cohere LLMs. Notably, this supplementary training has resulted in the creation of two new specialized LLMs, catering to medical professionals and first responders, respectively.

With Oracle’s significant presence in the healthcare sector following its acquisition of healthcare giant Cerner in 2022, the company recognizes the potential of specialized large language models to enhance the productivity of highly trained professionals. Ellison emphasized the impact of these models, stating, “Specialized large language models will be instrumental in helping highly trained professionals use their precious time more efficiently.”

The collaboration between Oracle and Cohere signifies Oracle’s commitment to exploring new avenues within the enterprise cloud space and capitalizing on the potential of generative AI services. As the partnership progresses, enterprises can look forward to an easier and more secure way of training their own customized language models, tailored to their specific needs and domains.

Oracle is no stranger the World of AI

While the upcoming service with Cohere is new, Oracle is quite familiar with the world of AI. In fact, Ellison made sure to emphasize during the earnings call that Cohere is using Oracle Cloud for training LLMs.

Ellison said that Oracle has an edge over its competitors because it had more experience and expertise in handling large amounts of data securely and efficiently. Other vendors that have publicly revealed they use Oracle Cloud for training LLMs include Adept AI Labs, which raised $350 million in March for a generative AI service for using software. Oracle also has a cloud AI partnership with Nvidia, that involves Nvidia GPU hardware and Nvidia using the Oracle Cloud to help with ongoing AI development. All told, Ellison boasted that Oracle Cloud is already a multi-billion business for AI workloads.

“In the aggregate, our generative AI cloud customers have recently signed contracts to purchase more than $2 billion of capacity in Oracle’s Gen2 Cloud,” Ellison said.

While the numbers are large and growing, in the cloud business Oracle still trails behind the big three hyper-scalers which all have their own generative AI services. Amazon Web Services (AWS)  announced its Bedrock generative AI services in April, Google has a host of its own services and models that were updated at its recent I/O conference, and Microsoft benefits from its tight partnership with OpenAI.