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Sun Microsystems is encouraging developers to throw everything including the kitchen sink into evolving the Java language.

While Sun has announced its plans to open-source its Java technology, the company plans to maintain the sanctity of the standard language while enabling developers to experiment on bringing new features to Java, said Peter von der Ahe, tech lead for the Sun Java Complier, also known as Javac.

Ahe has started a Sun incubator project known as KSL, or the Kitchen Sink Language, which will enable developers to “throw language features, no matter how absurd, just so that folks could play around. Now that Javac has been open-sourced, it’s easy,” said Java creator and Sun Fellow James Gosling in a blog post on Jan. 8. The KSL project can be found here.

Ahe said as the tech lead for Javac, “I see a lot of proposal for enhancing the language and our team has to turn down most. So how can we experiment? [Gosling’s] solution is the ‘Kitchen Sink Language,’ which will be a forum for trying out crazy (and not so crazy) ideas for language enhancements.”

Gosling: Language debates should be backed up with experiment and data. Click here to read more.

However, “We want the main branch of Javac to be stable and primarily focus on implementing ‘approved’ features,” Ahe said. “On the other hand, we must experiment and ‘have fun’ to get a feel for new language features. Most people seem to prefer evaluating new language proposals by using them on their own code, rather than reading abstract specifications and proposals.”

The Java programming language is defined by the Java Community Process, according to Ahe. “This is a good thing as it ensures that the entire community is heard,” he said. Yet, “we should also be conservative when selecting which features are added to the language. Otherwise, the language may become a mess.”

Ahe noted that this is the premise of a presentation titled “Evolving the Java Language” created by Gilad Bracha, a Sun computational theologist; Graham Hamilton, former Sun vice president and fellow; and Mark Reinhold, chief engineer for Java Standard Edition.

Ahe said he was prompted to move on creating the KSL project when over the winter holidays Remi Forax, Maitre de Conference at University of Marne-la-Vallee, implemented two proposals for language enhancements. That led Ted Neward, founder of Neward & Associates, of Redmond, Wash., to “suggest that we do something to coordinate future experimental features. So I felt this was the right time to implement James’ idea,” Ahe said.

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