The Java Source

The Java Community Process: What's Broken and How to Fix It

March 17, 2011 By: Tori Wieldt

In a panel discussion today at TheServerSide Java Symposium, Patrick Curran, Head of the Java Community Process, James Gosling, and 
Reza Rahman, member, Java EE 6 and EJB 3.1 expert groups, discussed the state of the JCP. Moderated by Cameron McKenzie, Editor of TheServerSide.com, they discussed what's wrong with JCP and ways to fix it.

What's wrong with the JCP?
Reza Rahman was quite supportive of the JCP. "I work as a consultant, and it's much better than getting a decision made a large company," Reza commented. He gave the JCP "Five stars" and explained that as an individual, he was able to have an impact on things that mattered to him.
Cameron asked, "Now all these JCP problems came after Oracle acquired Sun, right?" To which the crowd had a good laugh, and the panel all agreed many of the JCP problems existed under Sun. How is the JCP handled differently under Oracle than Sun? "Pretty similar," said James. Oracle "tends more towards practicality" said Reza. "I'm glad to see things moving again, we've got several new JSRs filed," Patrick commented.

How to Fix It?
They all agreed greater transparency is a top issue. Without it, people assume sinister behavior whether it's there or not. Patrick said that currently spec leads are "encouraged" to be transparent, and the JCP office is planning to submit JSRs to change the JCP process so transparency is mandated, both for mailing lists and issue tracking. Shining a light on problems is the best way to fix them.

Reza said the biggest problem is lack of a participation from the community. If more people are involved, a lot of the problems go away. "Developers are too non-chalant, they should realize what happens in the JCP has an direct impact on their career and they need to get involved." Reza commented.

Got Involved!
During Q&A, someone asked how a developer could get involved. They answered: Pick a JSR you are interested in and follow it. To start, you could read an article about the JSR and comment on the article (expert group members do read the comments). Or read the spec, discuss it with others and post a blog about it. Read the Expert Group proceedings. Join the JCP (free for individuals). Open source projects have code that you can download and play with, download it and provide feedback. Patrick mentioned that the JCP really wants more participation. "One way we are working on it is that we are encouraging JUGs to join the JCP as a group, and that makes all members of the JUG JCP members," Patrick said.

They commented that most spec leads are desperate for feedback. "And, please get involved BEFORE the spec is finalized!" James declared. Someone from the audience said it's hard to put valuable time into something before it's baked. Patrick explained that Post Final Draft (PFD) is the time in the JCP process when the spec is mature enough to review but before the spec is finalized. The panel agreed the worst thing that could happen is that most people in the Java community just complain about the JCP without getting involved. Developer Sumit Goyal, conference attendee, thought it was a healthy discussion. "I got insights into how JSRs are worked on and finalized," he said.

Key Links
The Java Community Process Website http://jcp.org/en/home/index
Article: A Conversation with JCP Chair Patrick Curran
Oracle Technology Network http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/java/index.html
TheServerSide Java Symposium http://javasymposium.techtarget.com/

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