Friday, February 5, 2010
Last week the virtual world community received some more bad new. With last week's finalization of Oracle's deal to buy Sun Microsystems, Oracle quickly pulled financial support for Sun's Project Wonderland. Wonderland was not an official product of Sun Microsystems, but rather a Java research/demonstration project that had gone fairly far in advancing a very capable open source toolkit for creating collaborative 3D server-based virtual worlds.
Nicole Yankelovich, Principal Engineer at Sun Labs and Project Wonderland team leader did a remarkable job of advancing the Wonderland technology over the past few years. The present v 0.5 release is an elegant early implementation of a virtual world toolkit with integrated audio, application sharing, VoIP, and some very nice avatar developments. I am quite grateful to Nicole and her team for their deep commitment to advancing interoperability between virtual world platforms. Over the past year, members of the Open Cobalt and Wonderland development teams met on several occasions at Duke and elsewhere to advance a joint strategy to ensure interoperability between Project Wonderland and Open Cobalt virtual workspaces. It is a shame to learn of this setback since the project appeared to have so much momentum. In my experience, interoperability is something everyone seems to talk about and few actually act on. Nicole and her team were acting on it.
Oracle's move is not entirely unexpected since open source software is not something the company is known for promoting. I wonder what all this means for the future of Java...