While Oracle OpenWorld was abuzz about the release of Oracle 12c, Java developers found their big news at this year’s JavaOne, which was essentially the same as last year’s big news. Mark Reinhold, chief architect for the Java Platform at Oracle, gave a keynote address at JavaOne where he further detailed the changes coming for OpenJDK 8, which includes closures and a merging of many of the APIs in Java ME and Java SE.

Those changes to Java ME are intended to make development easier. Java ME and SE will use the same APIs within the OpenJDK and Java SE 8 releases. The move should eliminate many of the differences between the two platforms.

These changes are also designed to expand the appeal of Java to embedded developers. Reinhold demonstrated a chess-playing robotic arm on stage, which he said was controlled by Java, end to end.

But aside from the planned changes in the next version of Java, which is expected to be released by March 2014, most of the big news at the show came from third-party vendors.

For Java developers, a great many options for distributed applications, development environments and cloud-based deployment were shown on the JavaOne expo floor.

Azul Systems discussed Zing 7, the latest version of its highly scalable JVM. Zing 7 includes faster lock-handling operations, performance improvements for Hadoop and Cassandra users, and extended support for in-memory data structures larger than 250GB.

CloudBees was on hand to demonstrate new PaaS support for iOS, as well as integration points for externally hosted enterprise SaaS applications. Sacha Labourey, CEO of CloudBees, said that these new features were added in response to customer demand.

“One of the things we announced this week is app-centric integration,” he said. “A lot of the time, you get a requirement that says, ‘Each time there is a new Salesforce account is created, I want to do something.’ The amount of code you need to do a lot of that is large. Now, we have libraries to make it easy to connect in the JVM. You can get whatever you need in Salesforce. It’s just JSON called on your object.”

Codenvy, a browser-based IDE focused on the enterprise market, showed off its new Factory capabilities. These give developers the ability to clone IDE instances and share them online, in a manner similar to the way a GitHub repository can be forked and shared. Developers can set up online workspaces around a specific software project and quickly clone them for sharing.

Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation, pointed to Atlas, by Ensoft, as his new favorite Eclipse-based product. The tool allows developers to highlight segments of Java code, then immediately see a visual representation of what that code does. It is designed to help developers tasked with maintaining complex code they didn’t write themselves.

Gradleware released version 1.8 of Gradle. This version features improved performance and better memory consumption. It also includes a new method of handling duplicate files, and the ability to create native libraries and executables from C and assembler sources.

Newcomer Hazelcast has taken the Java in-memory data grid space by storm. While Hazelcast itself has been growing in popularity in the open-source community, Hazelcast the company only recently began revving up its sales and marketing departments. The company launched Hazelcast 3.0 today.

This in-memory data grid actually offers a lot more than simply an in-memory data store. Miko Matsumura, vice president of marketing and developer relations for Hazelcast, said the product addresses the needs of Java developers looking to create distributed applications.

“What you really want is to do something simple, like extend your hash map beyond the size of memory. So you take our 3-megabyte JAR file, download it under the Apache 2 license, stick it in your classpath, and you have a distributed map, a distribute queue, and JMS-like topics,” he said.

For Hazelcast 3.0, the team rewrote 70% of the code, allowing them to uncouple the data storage service from the included application support structures.

“This means anybody in the community can develop their own partition service,” said Matsumura. “It could be a new distributed actor-based system, could be a full text search service, or it could be hierarchical lock manager.”

Jelastic used JavaOne as a platform to launch Tomitribe, its new initiative to expand the community around TomEE, the Apache Tomcat distribution for Java EE. Tomitribe offers TomEE consulting and community engagement through the encouragement of open-source contributions to the project.

JFrog’s demonstrated its forthcoming Artifactory HA release, which is expected next month. Artifactory users were experiencing a great amount of pain if and when their servers crashed, which would in turn hold up their builds due to unavailable artifacts. Artifactory HA will be highly available, and include failover support to allow for clusters of Artifactory instances to perform redundantly.

ReportMill gave attendees a glimpse of its forthcoming Java RAD environment, Java Inventor. The goal of Java Inventor (and of ReportMill) is to recreate Microsoft Access in Java. Thus, developers using Java Inventor can skip most of the boilerplate work that is required to simply stand up a Java-based database-driven application. The software also includes the ability to generate reports from these applications without the need to write complex report-generation tools.

Thinking Software was at JavaOne to show developers SUM4JVM, a tool that allows them to find race conditions. The SUM4JVM tool set attaches to running Java applications, and when a race condition occurs, it offers a visual interface to finding where the bug is originating.

ZeroTurnaround demonstrated LiveRebel, its deployment-focused follow-up to JRebel. LiveRebel allows developers to automate the entire deployment process of their application using the LiveRebel Server, which can kick off builds, tests, and data installation into test, staging and production environments.