2005 Java Community Process Roundtable

The Java Community Process sponsored a roundtable discussion at this year''s JavaOne conference. Read some highlights from this distinguished panel of spec leads on the JCP and where it's going.

JavaOne 2005 marks the 10-year anniversary of this conference, and the time couldn't be more appropriate for a Java Community Process (JCP) event, with all the discussion on open source and public participation taking place. The 2005 Java Community Process Press Roundtable brought together the JCP's director, Onno Kluyt, and nine selected spec leaders to discuss the JCP, its evolution, its membership, the collaborative nature of specification development, and where it's going.

Kay Keppler, editor of Java Pro magazine, served as moderator of the roundtable discussion, asking the panel several questions to prompt a robust, comprehensive discussion about the JCP, its evolution and maturation, its procedures and how they are viewed and received by the community, its growth, and other salient points.

Here are some highlights from the event. Look for an upcoming article in July chronicling the full discussion at, which will include an audio recording of the event. For a complete list of the roundtable participants, their titles, and their companies, including links to their Web sites, see the sidebar, "Meet the JCP Roundtable Panel."

Onno Kluyt, director of the JCP, kicked off the discussion with a concise historical summary of the JCP, which he said started in December 1998 as an experiment for the Java community to standardize Java technology. Kluyt said it was first set up defensively in case it didn't work out. The specs were copyrighted, and Sun determined which proposals were accepted and who became spec leaders. However, with some gentle prodding from partners, changes were made, and less than two years later in June 2000, JCP 2.0 was introduced. This update to the process itself marked a juncture in which decision-making ability was delegated from Sun to the specification committees.

In October 2002, additional significant changes were implemented to evolve the technology to JCP 2.5, including the guarantee that open source implementation of Java specs was now possible. Spec leads needed to obtain the appropriate licensing, and the focus was placed on spec leaders to be open and transparent for the licensee. In March of 2004, the current JCP 2.6 was introduced, and today there are 912 current members in the growing organization. The level of participation translates into roughly 40–45 new specifications each year, and a third of those get completed.

In response to the question of how the roundtable participants viewed the maturing of the JCP along with the maturation of the Java language, David Nuescheler, CTO of Day Software AG, said that the introduction of 2.5 provided much more opportunity for specs. Nuescheler said open source was no longer just a possibility, but a reality: His spec, JSR 170, was licensed completely under Apache. More importantly, Nuescheler added, was that when he was in a meeting with the JCP 2.6 expert group, "they asked us what we wanted to see changed, and they did make changes the way we wanted."

Several contributions on this topic were offered, and all were positive in regard to the JCP's evolution, though "sometimes [that evolution is] in very small steps," said Donald Deutsch, vice president of standards strategy and architecture at Oracle Corporation. He pointed out that the though "you might say the technology has matured, it's an evolving technology." JCP's Nuescheler agreed, but gave the JCP high marks in implementing the specs and making sure there is no conflict or overlap among them to provide the members a "safety net."

There was considerable discussion around the issue of living with your legacy. Your legacy is what you create right from the start, said James Van Peursem, fellow of technical staff at Motorola Inc., and you have to be mindful of that legacy because you will have to live with it. It's not something that's unique to Java, he added.

Mark Reinhold, Java SE chief engineer at Sun Microsystems, agreed, saying there aren't any easy strategies to get around that. "It's living with your past," he said.

When Keppler asked the group about ways in which the technology has created growth, Ekaterina (Katya) Chtcherbina, senior engineer at Siemens AG Corporate Technology, said that Java makes the process of updating on [mobile] devices easier. It saves money and time updating the software, and she thinks "this is something that's very special about Java."

Agreement came from Geir Magnusson, Jr., Apache Software Foundation representative on the EC, and Andreas Ebbert, software design engineer of operations support systems at Nokia and architecture board member with the OSS Through Java Initiative. Magnusson said that it's a fairly straightforward process to license a spec, which enables growth, and Ebbert contributed that it clearly creates marketplaces.

The collaborative effort to evolve specifications seemed to be the key behind the JCP's success over the course of its seven-year history. Many of the participants expressed seeing a lot of public interest and innovation going on and are excited about it. The consensus was that the JCP is still producing results.