New JCP Executive Committee Member, Alibaba, Takes Office

The newest member of the Java Community Process (JCP) Executive Committee (EC), Alibaba, took office on May 24.

The company was elected to one of the Ratified Seats on the EC, which was left vacant by Dutch semiconductor manufacturer NXP Semiconductors, in a special election. The JCP posted the news and the results on its Web site.

Alibaba will serve the remaining term until the fall of 2018. The election was hosted by Votenet and closed on May 14.

Alibaba, China's ecommerce giant, began engineering on OpenJDK in 2010, the company says. Most of the application running on the Alibaba platform are written in Java, which translates to more than billion lines of code and the work of more than 10,000 Java developers.

In his company's position statement (the "why you should vote for us" pitch) Kingsum Chow, the Chief Scientist in Alibaba's System Software Hardware Co-optimization group, pitched the candidate's qualifications: "Alibaba has a strong record of open source and community involvement," he wrote. "We custom-build most of its software based on rich Java open-source ecosystem and we also contribute them back to community, including jStorm, fastJSON, etc. We have two OpenJDK committers, another one in expert group in JSR 353."

JSR 353 ("Java API for JSON Processing [JSON-P]), provides an API to parse, transform, and query JSON data using the object model or the streaming mode.

Chow, who will represent Alibaba on the EC, joined his company in 2016 to improve Java performance in the datacenter. He has appeared often in JavaOne/Oracle OpenWorld keynotes.

Each year roughly half the seats of the 24-member EC are up for ratification/election. The EC oversees the work of the Expert Groups that define Java specifications, effectively guiding the evolution of Java. The committee picks the JSRs that will be developed, approves draft specs and final specs, approves Technology Compatibility Kit (TCK) licenses, approves maintenance revisions and occasionally defers features to new JSRs, approves transfer of maintenance duties between members, and provides guidance to the Program Management Office (PMO).

The EC comprises 16 Ratified Seats, 6 Elected Seats, and the 2 Associate Seats, all serving a two-year term, as well as a permanent seat held by Oracle America, the official steward of Java. The Ratified Seats are filled by Full Members of the JCP nominated by the Program Management Office (PMO); the Elected and Associate Seats are filled by members nominated by Full and Partner Members.

The EC Elections process was launched originally in June 2000, but the process has undergone several changes. In 2016, the elections came under the then-new JCP 2.10 rules. Among other things, those rules created two new seats on the committee for unaffiliated individuals. The new Associate Member seats were part of an ongoing effort by the JCP to get more Java pros involved in the process. The JCP's Associate Membership is aimed at individuals who want to contribute to a Java Specification Request (JSR). There is no employer approval required and Associate Members get to vote for the two new Associate EC seats.

The JCP now offers three membership levels: the Associate level; the Partner level, which is for Java User Groups and other non-profit organizations; and Full Membership, which is for "legal entities who wish to join Expert Groups, lead JSRs, and/or vote or serve on the Executive Committee."

Despite a spate of changes in the Java community, including Oracle's decision to move the Java Platform Enterprise Edition (now Jakarta EE) to the open-source Eclipse Foundation, the JCP is still the touchstone of the Java community.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].