Mike Keith
posted a very good summary of annotations and also cover some
limitations of the specification. 

Ted commented
on some of them and I’d like to take this opportunity to share
my viewpoint.

Mike deplores the absence of inheritance and the fact that you can’t use
null
as a default value.  I can sympathize with his disappointment
since I was one of the strong advocates of these two features in the JSR-175
committee, both of which got eventually voted down.

Inheritance was deemed too hard to specify, which is a fair point since we
are talking about entities which are "almost" interfaces but not quite. 
There was also some concern about resolving annotations when multiple
inheritance is involved and also what happens when overriding of annotation
occurs and, worse, when the two overriding annotations are defining different
attributes.

The impossibility of defining null as a default keyword still
bothers me to no end as of today, but I have to confess that just like Ted, I
don’t recall the specifics of forbidding it.  I just remember that they
sounded convincing :-)   (to be fair, Neal spent a great deal of time
explaining on the alias why it was a big issue for the compiler and that it was
close to impossible to achieve).

So if we want annotation inheritance, tools will have to define their own.

With my work on EJBGen and
TestNG these past years, I have been
exposed to a lot of feedback on the use of inheritance in annotations and I
believe the rules defined in TestNG have reached a reasonable semantics that
seems to provide a great deal of flexibility of power.  I have covered
these rules in some of

my


past
postings
but I will probably post another entry describing how inheritance, overriding
and partial overriding work in TestNG soon.