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Jigsaw Gets Approved on Reconsideration Ballot

Did you hear that, a kind of whooshing sound coming from the Java community? It was a collective sigh of relief as word got out about the results of the Public Review Reconsideration Ballot for JSR 376, the Java Platform Module System (JPMS) specification, better known as Jigsaw. In case you missed it, the votes were 24 in favor with one abstention (Red Hat). No "no" votes this time around.

A vote in May by the Executive Committee (EC) of the Java Community Process (JCP) to reject JSR 376 moved the Expert Group to address the EC's concerns at something approaching warp speed, and that's just what they seem to have done.

"I think it's fair to say that people were highly motivated to reach closure on all of these issues," Georges Saab, VP of Development for Oracle's Java SE Group, told me in an earlier interview.

Red Hat explained its decision to abstain in the voting comments section of the ballot page:

Red Hat is voting Abstain at this time because although we think there has been positive progress within the EG to reach consensus since the last vote, we believe that there are a number of items within the current proposal which will impact wider community adoption that could have been addressed within the 30-day extension period for this release. However, we do not want to delay the Java 9 release and are happy with the more aggressive schedule proposed by the Specification Lead and EG for subsequent versions of Java because getting real world feedback on the modularity system will be key to understanding whether and where further changes need to occur. We hope that the Project Lead and EG will continue to be as open to input from the wider Java community as they have been in the last 30 days and look forward to the evolution of Java being driven by data from users and communities beyond OpenJDK.

SouJava's comment accompanying its vote included a noteworthy admonition to the community:

As a lesson for future JSRs: the Java Language is a fundamental piece of the Java ecosystem. JSRs that touch the Java Language Specification, should be very careful that proposed changes be reflected in the early drafts. Creating confusion around such a fundamental part of Java is very detrimental to the whole Java ecosystem. We are glad that those issues have been resolved now.

SouJava's comment about "creating confusion around such a fundamental part of what Java is" speaks to the source of much of the angst around the coming of Java 9, which prompted Mark Reinhold in May to engage in an effort to dispel a number of misconceptions about Jigsaw in Java 9. He offered his top 10 from "a long list" during the Devoxx UK developer conference, and later interviews. (My coverage here).

It's also worth noting TomiTribe's voter comment on the process itself:

As stated in our first vote and blog, we saw great value in the 30-day clock getting the EC and EG on the same page with a clear result. The spec lead has done an outstanding job of handling the flood of feedback that resulted and should be congratulated. We believe several of the decisions made, such as permitting illegal access by default but with clear warnings will lead to a smoother transition that still creates pressure for movement into modularity. Though some may have viewed the original vote as negative, it should be seen as a success of the JCP process and a sign of strength for Java overall.

More remains to be done, of course. More than one "yes" voter included a few pointed comments about updates and refinements in future releases. Twitter's comment is a good example:

We are disappointed that the community will not immediately see the benefits that they are expecting JPMS to provide (#AvoidConcealedPackageConflicts, in particular). But we understand that the most requested features will require a lot more discussion and due-diligence than is allowed in the JDK 9 timeframe. We hope that the first version of JPMS will provide a good basis for such features to be worked on and introduced in future JDK releases.

It's a process, after all, and the impact of modularization on Java is hard to overstate. Some industry watchers have said the JPMS will effectively transform Java into a new language. As IBM put it in its voter comments, "We see this release of JPMS as the strong foundation for a new Java SE platform architecture, and expect to build upon this with feedback and experience from our customers and the community."

Posted by John K. Waters on July 17, 2017