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The 'Sunsetting' of Kenai and java.net

Oracle's decision to shut down the java.net and kenai.com collaborative Web sites by next April has the Java community -- especially the Java EE community -- buzzing. The company announced plans last year to move the content and services of Kenai to java.net, but now says both portals will be "sunsetting" on April 28, 2017.

Java EE evangelist Reza Rahman, in a letter to members of the Java EE Guardians, called the decision "tragic," and "very troubling for Java EE."

"The problem is that Java EE JSRs and GlassFish itself is heavily reliant on java.net," Rahman wrote. "Oracle so far has not announced a transition plan and is basically asking everyone with java.net projects to do any migration on their own. This is especially troubling since our current projections show Java EE 8 scoped work is highly unlikely to be delivered by April 2017 -- which raises the question of how Java EE 8 will be delivered at all."

Oracle moved the so-called community content of the sites to the community.oracle.com Web site last fall, and insists that this portal will be a "much better platform for collaboration" because of new spaces provided for Java Champions, Java User Group (JUG) leaders, and the Java Community Process (JC). But for future code collaboration, Oracle is pointing developers to other social coding platforms.

"As for the forge half of the site, there has been a tremendous amount of innovation in the code collaboration space, and developers have migrated to a small set of very popular platforms like GitHub," the company said in a statement. "In light of this, we felt we could contribute more value to the community through other programs and by investing in GitHub, because our community is increasingly active there."

The Java community has been talking about the shortcomings of java.net for some time, but what some see as the abrupt termination of these two portals has been unsettling.

Ondrej Mihályi, a Java EE trainer, consultant and senior services engineer at Payara Services in the Czech Republic, allows that java.net and Kenai haven't kept up with modern trends. It makes sense for Oracle to reconsider their roles in the Java ecosystem, he said in an e-mail, but the abruptness of the shutdown announcement makes him question the company's motives.

"The way Oracle announced the plan to shut them down makes many members of the community wonder whether it was carefully planned or just a desire to cut costs and shut down projects they cannot monetize," he said. "The latter is more likely, as even many people from Oracle, who stand behind existing projects hosted on java.net, don't yet have a plan how to migrate their projects to somewhere else."

Oracle underestimates the value of these collaboration platforms for growing community involvement, Mihályi said, and perhaps the value of community involvement itself.

"There are many valuable resources on both java.net and kenai.com, including project sources and documentation, forums, blogs, and other sorts of information, such as JUG profiles and documents," he said. "[Oracle's decision] poses high risk that a certain amount of that information will be lost after the shutdown of both sites. We can remember the losses from recent history, when all sun.com sites were migrated under Oracle domains, but not all links are properly redirected to date. They say the Internet has very good memory, but it can also forget badly when a site goes down completely."

Werner Keil, DevOps Build Manager at Visteon Corp., is a member of the JCP Executive Committee, spec lead on JSR 363 and an Apache committer. He likens Oracle's decision to shutdown the forge sites with its decision to enfold the JavaOne developer conference within its own OpenWorld event.

"The Java community becomes less visible in a giant pool of various products and technologies from Oracle DB to Fusion Middleware or Siebel, just to name a few," he said in an e-mail. Fully assimilating Java as a product rather than supporting an open, community-based project is "consistent with Oracle's approach," he said.

"As other portals (for example, Google Code) faced before, it seems, Oracle wants to save the cost of maintaining its own separate forge and project hosting for Java," he said.

Both Werner and Mihályi are members of the Java EE Guardians, an independent, volunteer advocacy group formed a few months ago to support enterprise Java. Mihályi sees the java.net shutdown as especially threating to Java EE.

"The important fact to point out here is that java.net has been a standard place to host all the official resources for most Java EE JSRs, including project sites, history of public communication on mailing lists, tracked issues, sources of the reference implementations," he said. "If java.net was shut down right now, it would practically mean death to Java EE, or in a better case, a hibernation lasting for many months. We as Java EE Guardians intend to keep reminding this fact to Oracle, the JCP board, and JSR specification leads and actively offering our cooperation in finding a new home and in migration for all JSRs and related projects. We certainly want to make sure that no valuable resources are lost and that the new tools and hosting is even more appropriate than current solutions."

"In the end," he added, "if we are successful, we can all benefit from making the Java EE process more transparent and accessible to an even wider community. There is always a room for improvement in the Java EE JSR processes (licensing issues, accessibility to TCKs and certifications -- just to name a few). And we all hope that we are able to contribute to overall openness of the platform in order to foster cooperation and standardization."

Posted by John K. Waters on June 8, 2016