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JCP Election Results for the New Executive Committee Members Announced: Hologic not Ratified

by Charles Humble on Nov 03, 2010 |

The results have been announced from the JCP Executive Committee election, with Hologic failing to be ratified.  The JCP Project Management Office (PMO) will now need to choose a new candidate to replace concurrency expert Doug Lea.

The JCP process and structure can be a little confusing, so some background may be helpful.  The JCP has two Executive Committees (generally abbreviated to EC) - Standard/Enterprise and Micro Edition, each targeting different markets for the Java Platform. Voting Members on each EC serve 3-year terms; there are 10 ratified seats, 5 openly elected seats, and the permanent seat formerly held by Sun Microsystems and now held by Oracle.

The 3-year terms are staggered so that 5 of the 15 seats are normally up for ratification/election each year. The PMO nominates members to fill the vacant ratified seats, which in practice means that new ratified seats are the choice of the company holding the permanent seat.  Any existing member of the JCP can run in the open vote.

The vote this year has been unusually controversial, at least for the ratified seats of the SE/EE Executive Committee. Apache Software Foundation and Red Hat Middleware were up for re-election, but the third seat was recently vacated by concurrency expert Doug Lea, giving Oracle its first chance to influence the make-up of the JCP.  Its decision to nominate Hologic to replace Lea drew sharp criticism, with Apache's Stephen Colebourne, writing on his personal blog, going so far as to accuse Oracle through the PMO of "stacking the JCP election".

Oracle's Adam Messinger took the unusual step of responding publicly to the criticism, stating

On the topic of Hologic, our feeling is that standards folks, technologists, and technology vendors are already well represented and there is room for some new opinions at the table. The fact is that a big part of Java's success is driven by thousands of developers at small and mid-size companies like Hologic. These developers, who are working squarely in the Microsoft sweet spot, are on the forefront of our competition with .NET. Hologic has bet their business on Java -- not as a supplier of Java, but as a consumer -- and we think having their perspective on the EC is valuable. They are absolutely representative of a large cross section of the Java community.

In the event Hologic was not ratified, so the PMO will now nominate a new candidate for ratification.

Despite the controversy, turnout remained low.  A mere 18% of members who were eligible to vote actually bothered to do so, continuing a trend of falling turnout that we've seen for the last 3 years:

 

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

Percentage

35.3%

31.5%

33%

26%

21%

18%

This may reflect growing disenchantment with the JCP in general, road-blocked for many years by the stand-off between Apache and Sun (now Oracle) over the TCK licensing conditions for Java SE. Whilst the deal between Oracle and IBM may finally pave the way for a Java 7 JSR and subsequent release, Lea's resignation letter was damning of the JCP in general, stating

I believe that the JCP is no longer a credible specification and standards body, and there is no remaining useful role for an independent advocate for the academic and research community on the EC.

Oracle's Henrik Ståhl responded

I am sad to hear that he has decided to leave the JCP EC, and can only say that I hope that he will still continue to act as a leader in the community. People like Doug are needed to balance the priorities and interests of Oracle and other big corporations.

Doug and a few other members of the community such as Stephen Colbourne have made some very strong statements regarding the JCP. Needless to say, we don't agree with this bleak description of reality. We believe that the JCP is and remains a good organization for ushering the Java standards forward. We agree with the need of continually improving the JCP, and will work on that together with the EC. We also note that the EC contains a diverse set of companies and individuals, many of which are among Oracle's most fierce competitors. We believe that an open, vigorous and sometimes heated debate between conflicting interests and differing opinions is a necessary part of hammering out standards that serve the best interests of Java users, and we are confident that a vast majority of the EC members agree with us on this.

Others have also argued that the JCP is salvageable include JBoss' Bill Burke, and Mike Milinkovich of Eclipse.

Many in the community, particularly Apache's supporters, remain nervous as to how Oracle's stewardship of Java will pan out. Against this back-drop, whatever its intentions, Oracle's choice of a company that so few people were aware of was a risky one, and it didn't pay off. It will be interesting to see who it nominates next; one option would be for it to choose Bob Lee, who came third in the open vote polling 21%.

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Bob Lee by Robert Sullivan

I was as perplexed by the attempt to ratify Hologic as anyone else. As a JCP member, I always research each candidate, and review the short blurb on the JCP, and go to the company web site to help make my judgement. To get my vote, I consider various factors such as what standing the person has in the Java world, and how much of a contribution they have made, and thus might be expected to make as part of the JCP.

To see the difference between Hologic and Bob Lee, just take a look at the summary about Bob and compare it with the lackadaisical, mumbo-jumbo blurb about Hologic which appears to be computer generated. Then take a look at Bob's blog. Guice 2.0, JCP - this is a guy who is a contributor.


It is disappointing to see the declining participation. I think having folks like Bob on the JCP, especially when replacing someone like Doug Lea, who has also made incredible contributions, is important in keeping the JCP a viable organization, creating leadership and respect. Hopefully ratifying people like Bob, and continuing to improve the language will keep Java lively and exciting. Otherwise, we'll see a continuing shift to more interesting, productive areas. The author of Rails, David Hansson, said, in relation to the fact that Apple deprecated Java on OS X, something to the effect that stuff like this used to be big news, but now it's relegated more to the "meh" category, i.e. "yeah, whatever, we don't care about Java anymore." Sure, he's a bit biased, but a bit close to the truth.

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