Friday Jun 08, 2012

JCP.next.3: time to get to work

As I've previously reported in this blog, we planned three JSRs to improve the JCP’s processes and to meet our members’ expectations for change.

The first - JCP.next.1, or more formally JSR 348: Towards a new version of the Java Community Process - was completed in October 2011. This focused on a small number of simple but important changes to make our process more transparent and to enable broader participation. We're already seeing the benefits of these changes as new and existing JSRs adopt the new requirements.

organization

However, because we wanted to complete this JSR quickly we deliberately postponed a number of more complex items, including everything that would require modifying the JSPA (the legal agreement that members sign when they join the organization) to a follow-on JSR.

The second JSR (JSR 355: JCP Executive Committee Merge) is in progress now and will complete later this year. This JSR is even simpler than the first, and is focused solely on merging the two Executive Committees into one for greater efficiency and to encourage synergies between the Java ME and Java SE platforms.

Continuing the momentum to move Java and the JCP forward we have just filed the third JSR (JCP.next.3) as JSR 358: A major revision of the Java Community Process. This JSR will modify the JSPA as well as the Process Document, and will tackle a large number of complex issues, many of them postponed from JSR 348. For these reasons we expect to spend a considerable amount of time working on it - at least a year, and probably more.

The current version of the JSPA was created back in 2002, although some minor changes were introduced in 2005. Since then the organization and the environment in which we operate have changed significantly, and it is now time to revise our processes to ensure that they meet our current needs.

JCPWe have a long list of topics to be considered, including the role of independent implementations (those not derived from the Reference Implementation), licensing and open source, ensuring that our new transparency requirements are implemented correctly, compatibility policy and TCKs, the role of individual members, patent policy, and IP flow.

The Expert Group for JSR 358, as with all process-change JSRs, consists of all members of the Executive Committees. Even though the JSR has just been filed we started discussions on the various topics several months ago (see the EC's meeting minutes for details) and our EC members - including the new members who joined within the last year or two - are actively engaged. Now it's your opportunity to get involved.

As required by version 2.8 of our Process (introduced with JSR 348) we will conduct all our business in the open. We have a public java.net project where you can follow and participate in our work. All of our deliberations will be copied to a public Observer mailing list, we'll track our issues on a public Issue Tracker, and all our documents (meeting agendas and minutes, task lists, working drafts) will be published in our Document Archive.

We're just getting started, but we do want your input. Please visit us on java.net where you can learn how to participate.

Let's get to work...

Friday Aug 12, 2011

Using the Process to change the Process

Constitution

There are two documents that define how the JCP is organized and how it does its work: the Java Specification Participation Agreement (JSPA), which is a legal contract between members and Oracle, addressing Intellectual Property grants and the terms under which the Spec, RI, and TCK should be licensed, and the Process Document, which defines the governance of the organization and the processes that we use to develop and maintain JSRs.

Since we have a well-defined process for developing technical specifications, it seemed sensible to use it to modify these constitutional documents rather than to create something new. So, we use the Process to modify the Process, by filing a special JSR. As Chair of the JCP I am the Spec Lead for these Process JSRs, while the Executive Committee members form the Expert Group.

One such JSR is in progress now: JSR 348: Towards a new version of the Java Community was filed in May and has just gone into Public Review. This JSR is focusing on relatively simple changes that can be implemented within about six months (we want to complete it before this year's JCP elections in October.) For this reason it focuses only on changes to the Process Document and to a new ancillary document that outlines the Standing Rules for the operation of the ECs.

There will be two follow-on JSRs: the first will merge the two ECs into one for greater efficiency and to encourage synergies between the Java platforms, and the second will implement more complex changes, including any that require modifying the JSPA. (Since the JSPA is a legal contract, changing it is a Big Deal, requiring input from Real Lawyers.)

Signing the ConstitutionThe principal themes of JSR 348 are Transparency, Participation, and Agility.

The Transparency changes will require that Expert Groups conduct all of their business in public, using a public mailing-list and a public issue-tracker. Similarly, the Executive Committee, which already publishes all of its minutes and meeting materials (see here) will be required to hold some public meetings and to create a public mailing list for community feedback. Finally, there will also be some additional transparency requirements around licensing, TCK testing, and the election process.

The Participation changes will require that requests to join Expert Groups are published, will define formal processes for dealing with situations where Expert Group members or Spec Leads are not performing their duties, and will define penalties for Executive Committee members who do not attend meetings.

In the Agility area we intend to introduce time-outs for JSRs, requiring them to reach various stages of the process within a defined time or face the possibility of being shut down. We will also clarify the Final Release and Maintenance processes to ensure that Specifications, RIs, and TCKs are posted promptly.

Since JSR 348 will require that all Expert Groups conduct their work in the open, we thought we should set an example with this JSR. So, we've created a public java.net project where you can follow and participate in our work. All of our deliberations are copied to a public Observer Alias, we're tracking our issues on a public Issue Tracker, and all our documents (meeting agendas and minutes, task lists, working drafts) are published in our Document Archive.

We want your input, particularly now, during the Public Review period. Please visit us on java.net where you can learn how to participate. Subscribe to the Observers alias, review our issues, browse our meeting minutes, download the drafts of our new documents, and provide your feedback through the Issue Tracker.

See you there!

About

Patrick Curran

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