Should we still support Java 5 in 2013?

Backwards compatability is always a difficult balance. Each version of Java makes changes to the language and also (perhaps more importantly) fixes issues in the JVM. For example we saw lots of CMM color issues fixed in Java 6! Some customers need to support legacy code or wait for dependencies – it often takes some time for JBoss, Websphere and other big code bases to move onto a new version of Java.

But Java is evolving (and Oracle now has a clear development path for it). If we continued to support Java 1.3 (or maybe 1.1!) our customers would not be able to benefit from improvements in Java. Oracle makes Java 6 the minimum specification for many things such as JavaFX.

Oracle has now confirmed that Java 6 support will end in February 2013 (see https://blogs.oracle.com/java/entry/end_of_public_updates_for). It came out in 2006 while Java 5 was released in 2004. We will also see Java 8 in 2013.

So we are proposing to make Java 6 our minimum requirement from January 2013. What do you think?

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Mark Stephens

System Architect and Lead Developer at IDRSolutions
Mark Stephens has been working with Java and PDF since 1999 and has diversified into HTML5, SVG and JavaFX. He also enjoys speaking at conferences and has been a Speaker at user groups, Business of Software, Seybold and JavaOne conferences. He has a very dry sense of humor and an MA in Medieval History for which he has not yet found a practical use.

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About Mark Stephens

Mark Stephens has been working with Java and PDF since 1999 and has diversified into HTML5, SVG and JavaFX. He also enjoys speaking at conferences and has been a Speaker at user groups, Business of Software, Seybold and JavaOne conferences. He has a very dry sense of humor and an MA in Medieval History for which he has not yet found a practical use.

2 thoughts on “Should we still support Java 5 in 2013?

  1. Frisian

    As usual, the customer is king. E.g., when dealing with financial industries, one can expect to see Java 1.4 or even older. On the other hand they are prepared to pay more for extended support, so supporting older versions shouldn’t cause a loss.
    A viable option is to impose a “feature-freeze” on older versions, though argueing about whether someting is a new feature or a bug-fix can become pretty tough.

    • Sounds like a good compromise. Customer is indeed king but each have a different set of priorities.

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