Open source distributor Red Hat has been secretly working on a new language, which it wants to use to kill off Java in the enterprise and stick its own Java-based successor in its place.
Gavin King has been working on the Ceylon Project project in secret for the last two years and has now decided to spill the beans at QCon Beijing in a keynote titled "The Ceylon Project - the next generation of Java language?".
The talk might have remained secret from the rest of the world if Java expert Marc Richards had not spent a lot of time translating the slides from the talk from Chinese.
Writing from his bog, Richards says it is clear that the Ceylon Project aims to create a programming language and SDK for business computing.
It is designed with an eye to the successes and failures of the Java and will be built to run on the JVM. It uses static typing, and supports high-order functions, while maintaining a strong focus on being easy learn and easy to read.
While Java is popular, open, robust, and readable with good libraries it is stuffed by the fact that it can't evolve. Languages like Groovy, Python and C#, with C# are starting to do better in the enterprise.
The new language aims to keep the good sides of Java and replace the things that do not work so well. The focus is on readability and ease of learning/use.
It could be a way off, which is probably why Red Hat has kept the lid on the project firmly locked down.
While the language appears to be there, there is no production ready compiler or an SDK. The project would have to fix Java's modularity problems which have failed to be dealt with by other techniques such as Maven and OSGI.
There is also a big question mark over whether Ceylon can handle integration with existing Java code and libraries. If Ceylon is supposed to take over from Java then it is going to need to be able to be mostly backwardly compatable
There is also the possibility that Google and Apache might have to come on board to get it to work.
However, it could be seen as a method to end the spat between Oracle, Google and Apache over the rights to use Java without limits.