By Patrick Curran on Feb 01, 2006
The core strength of the Java platform is compatibility. There can be all kinds of implementations from all kinds of vendors, but they all have to be compatible. This means that developers can write portable Java applications that will reliably execute on any available run-time, while vendors can invest their energy in clever implementation techniques to build the best compatible implementations.
Java compatibility is promoted through a standards-based process. Specifications are developed publicly and can be licensed by anyone, while compatibility (conformance) test suites are used to verify that implementations conform to the specifications. This white paper provides a useful introduction to the whole process.
This is what I do for a living. I'm the manager of the group that's responsible for developing the conformance test suites for the Java SE platform and related technologies. You have to be a little weird to want to do this kind of work, since it involves lots of arguments along the lines of "it all depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is". It helps if you're the kind of person who likes to read the fine print in legal documents rather than skipping over them with a glazed expression and hoping that everything will turn out OK. I like to read the fine print.
I'll be using this blog to talk about the standards process in general and Java compatibility in particular. Stay tuned.