Started during the beta stages of Sun's Java 5, weekly snapshots of intermediate builds of Java 5 have been released. These snapshots were not considered stable, but allowed those interested to test the new Java 5 functionality. I think the main reason to start doing this is to let Java feel more like an open source project. Many open source project allow you to obtain the latest development snapshots by CVS so you could see what was going on. Java builds only became available once every year or so. Many people have urged Sun to open source Java, but so far they refused. Instead they will now release these weekly snapshots. Now that Java 5 has been released as final, the work on Java 6.0 has begun. Apparantly this new major version numbering sceme is something they are consistent with. Once again I'm looking forward to the full name of this release, will it be "version 1.6.0 of the Java 2 Platform Standard Edition 6"? Probably.
"Mark Reinhold":http://weblogs.java.net/blog/mreinhold/archive/2004/11/mustang_snapsho.html#comments (of Sun):
Inspired by the success of the Tiger snapshots, today we posted the first of the Mustang Snapshots. We've made some significant changes this time around:
* *We've started earlier.* You can get build twelve today. Yes, that's twelve as in 12. There aren't a whole lot of changes in this build, mainly just bug fixes and a few small enhancements here and there, but you'll see more change going forward as new features are integrated. As usual, snapshot builds are not for the timid. They receive only limited testing -- just a few hours' worth to make sure that they're warm and breathing. If you want stability then you'd best wait for the Mustang beta release, but if you enjoy living on the bleeding edge then these builds are for you. * *We're shipping source bundles.* For the first time ever we're shipping source bundles for a J2SE release while it's under active development (gulp). This should make it easier for interested developers to contribute to the release as it evolves. In past releases the only ways to do that were to be lucky and know someone at Sun, or be lucky and have your suggestion survive the labyrinthine gauntlet of the bug-submission process. Posting source bundles will also make it easier for us to be embarrassed by our mistakes, but we're quite happy to be arbitrarily embarrassed in exchange for higher quality. * *We're using java.net.* One of the big goals here is to engage better with the developer community, and java.net provides excellent infrastructure for that. The bundles are being hosted in the overall j2se project, which will shortly acquire the other usual project accoutrements such as mailing lists and forums. We're also working on a streamlined process for patch submission so that you can send code directly to real live JDK engineers rather than paste it into a bug report, cross your fingers, and hope for the best. * *We're using a new license.* The source bundles are covered by the "Java Research License":http://java.net/jrl.csp. The JRL is, to my non-lawyerly brain, a big improvement over the old SCSL license -- for one thing, I can understand it! The JRL also gives developers and researchers more flexibility than SCSL did, though it's still not an actual open source license in OSI terms (sorry).
As the development on Java 6 has only just begun, not that "much changes have been made":https://j2se.dev.java.net/files/documents/2396/8905/mustang-b12.html so far, but if you already want to "try it":https://j2se.dev.java.net/, you can. The final version of Java 6 is expected in the spring of 2006. You can find the "snapshots here":https://j2se.dev.java.net/.
Previous (related) posts on Java: * "Why Java Sucks":http://www.zefhemel.com/archives/2004/08/16/why-java-sucks * "A Better Java":http://www.zefhemel.com/archives/2004/09/03/a-better-java