Oracle and the Future of the JCP

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Oracle and the Future of the JCP

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It's been one week since Oracle laid out its roadmap for all things Sun, including the Java Community Process, and it seems that most developers are optimistic about the future of Java.  In the webcast last week, Oracle said it wanted to make the JCP more participatory, and now it is in a stronger position to do that.  With Oracle taking the reins of the JCP, DZone asked several JCP Executive Committee members for their thoughts on the shift in leadership.  While there were a few small concerns, all of the committee members that we spoke to were optimistic.  They also put forth some specific ways in which the community process could be improved.  

DZone:  In their webcast, Oracle said it wants to make the JCP more participatory.  How would you like to see Oracle run the JCP?

Josh Bloch, Google
I would like to see them enact the resolution that they proposed at the JCP EC Meeting of December 12, 2007:

Resolution 1 (proposed by Oracle, seconded by BEA)
"It is the sense of the Executive Committee that the JCP become an open independent vendor-neutral Standards Organization where all members participate on a level playing field with the following characteristics:

  • members fund development and management expenses
  • a legal entity with by-laws, governing body, membership, etc.
  • a new, simplified IPR Policy that permits the broadest number of implementations
  • stringent compatibility requirements
  • dedicated to promoting the Java programming model

Furthermore, the EC shall put a plan in place to make such transition as soon as practical with minimal disruption to the Java Community."

Ideally this "simplified IPR policy" would be a single commonly accepted permissive open source license such as BSD or Apache.

Mark Little, Red Hat

Mike Milinkovich, Eclipse Foundation
I think the resolution Josh pointed you accurately represents the consensus view. Of course, I think rather highly of the Eclipse license :-) but other than that, I agree with all of his points.

Werner Keil
I appreciate the proposal, just wanted to add, Individual Members likely should have a very low or zero funding, just like it is at the moment.  In recent months, we saw many SME (Small/Medium Enterprise) or Individual Members shape JSRs while those dominated by commercial entities were often tied up in legal or ideological bickering or simply not doing anything.  At least not within the JSR they either lead or are members of.

BSD, Apache and EPL are what [licenses] come to my mind.  Others like (L)GPL are worth discussing, if they have no negative impact on how a JSR might be used in commercial products or derived code.  However, the majority of JSRs seem to use one of the 3 above.  I would highly appreciate if the actual JSR itself could, just as other parts like RI or TCK, use exactly the same license.  So those working on it can focus on technical aspects and user experience rather than license terms.

Tim Peierls
Echoing Werner on one point: I'd like to see the part about members funding development and management expenses refined so as not to discourage individual member involvement.

Mark Thomas, IBM
My view, there is already a well established consensus in the community about this.  IBM has been a strong supporter for many years of a more open and participatory Java community, and we have worked successfully with Oracle in many standards and industry bodies, including the Java Community Process.  We voted in favor of the JCP EC resolution proposed by Oracle and seconded by BEA and look forward to working with Oracle and others in the community to implement it.

DZone:  Are you optimistic about the possible changes under Oracle leadership?

Josh Bloch, Google
Yes.  I'm an incurable optimist.

Werner Keil
Me too, mostly.

Mike Milinkovich, Eclipse Foundation
Absolutely. As a larger and more profitable company than Sun, Oracle is going to bring more resources to the table. Even more importantly, they will have an opportunity to take a fresh look at the business and ecosystem model for the Java community. We have collectively been at an impasse now for years, locked into old business models and viewpoints. Now is Oracle's chance to change things for the better.

DZone:  Do you have any concerns?

Josh Bloch, Google
Yes.  The present impasse has gone on too long and the platform has suffered.  We have to make up for lost time.

Werner Keil
The bickering and many JSRs having failed to even reach the first stage (EDR).  Also redundancies or incompatibilities between JSRs even in a more coordinated basket like Java EE 6 should be avoided. It seems, many JSRs worked in a black box until they present something for the first time.  That also should be part of increased transparency and interaction with the outside world.

With all the inactive JSRs and discussions how to reanimate them, beside withdrawal in hopeless or useless cases, how about introducing something like "inactive EG members", "Interested Party" (like Eclipse calls them) or others.  Depending on how Oracle plans to deal with membership, the JSPA and other issues in general, those could be actual JCP members or not.  And for Commercial Members maybe something like a "Committer Rate" was an option to distinguish those who don't contribute for a long time and those who help progressing a JSR.  Using Maven's <team> tag, I tried to highlight that for JSR-275 declaring only those as <developer> who actively commit and all others as <contributors>.  The wording is Maven-specific, but I hope, the idea becomes clear enough?

For more information on the JCP Executive Committee Members, go to jcp.org.

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

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