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Exploring JDK 7, Part 1: New Language Features

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Oracle’s release of JDK 7 is expected to occur this coming Fall. This new release will offer a suite of new features for you to learn. Part 1 of this four-part series introduces you to three of the new language features: binary literals, switch on string, and underscores in integer literals.

Oracle’s release of JDK 7 is expected to occur this coming fall. This new release will offer a suite of new features for you to learn.

This article begins a four-part series that introduces you to some of these features. Specifically, the article focuses on three of the new language features: binary literals, switch on string, and underscores in integer literals.

What to Expect for JDK 7

The last major release of the Java platform, Java SE 6, arrived in December 2006. After nearly four years in development, the next generation of this platform is set to arrive in the fall of 2010. According to the OpenJDK features list, the following features will be included in JDK 7 (most likely to be known as Java SE 7):

  • Concurrency and collections updates
  • Elliptic-curve cryptography
  • Forward port of Java SE 6u10 deployment features: Java Kernel, Quickstarter, and so on
  • JAXB, JAXP, and JAX-WS API upgrades
  • New language features: annotations on any occurrence of a Java type, automatic resource management, binary literals, closures, language and virtual machine support for modular programming (modules), strings in switch, type inference for generic instance creation, underscores in integer literals
  • New platform APIs for Java SE 6u10 graphics features: heavyweight/lightweight component mixing, translucent and shaped windows
  • New Swing components: JXDatePicker, JXLayer component decorator
  • Nimbus look and feel for Swing
  • NIO.2 (New I/O, the second generation)
  • Sockets Direct Protocol and Stream Control Transmission Protocol support on Solaris
  • Unicode 5.1 support
  • Upgrades to classloader architecture, including a method to close a URLClassLoader
  • Virtual machine enhancements: compressed 64-bit object pointers, new Garbage-First garbage collector, virtual machine support for non-Java languages (InvokeDynamic)
  • XRender pipeline for Java 2D

Rather than wait for JDK 7's official release later this year, you can already try out some of these features via an early access release. Point your browser to the Java Early Access Downloads page, and proceed to download and install JDK 7 Milestone 5 (the current milestone at time of writing).

Now that you've installed JDK 7 Milestone 5, we're ready to start exploring this platform. This article, the first in a four-part series that explores different aspects of next-generation Java, launches that exploration by focusing on three of the available language enhancements: binary literals, switch on string, and underscores in integer literals.

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