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JCP Enters Final Phase of Transparency and Developer Agreement Work

| by Ben Evans Follow 28 Followers on May 28, 2014. Estimated reading time: 3 minutes |

Intellectual property concerns, transparency and the continuing development of a new version of the Java Specification Participation Agreement (JSPA) were the hot topics at the recent meeting of the Java Community Process Executive Committee (JCP EC).

The JSPA is the document that all developers must sign in order to be eligible to participate in the development of new Java standards, and is crucial to enabling community developers to contribute code to Java and related standardised technologies.

To support the efforts in this area, Oracle proposed a new Java Specification Request (JSR). Known as JSR 364: Broadening JCP Membership - this JSR intends to clarify and update intellectual property aspects of participation in the JCP and to widen involvement by the community in the process. The EC approved the creation of this JSR, and work began in earnest at the face-to-face meeting.

InfoQ caught up with London Java Community (LJC) leader (and EC alternate member) Martijn Verburg, to get the low-down on everything that's been happening in the JCP lately.

InfoQ: it's been three years since the LJC was first elected to the JCP EC. What do you think the biggest changes in the JCP have been in that time?

Martijn: The embracing of the global Java community by Oracle and the other players. Key to this has been the revolution in transparency. It's fair to say that standards are now being developed in collaboration with Java developers and users - rather than being dictated by faceless vendors.

InfoQ: What advantages does that bring to the developer?

Martijn: Developers are now involved from the very beginning, and real-world use cases are considered from the start. This results in implementations that are fit for purpose.

InfoQ: Can you give us some examples?

Martijn: For Java 8, two of the main features, lambdas and the new Date and Time API, were both battle-tested extensively by working developers from an early stage of their development. Key leaders like Oracle Java Language Architect Brian Goetz and Java Time Spec Lead Stephen Colebourne really took to the spirit of openness and it shows in the quality of the specs produced.

InfoQ: How well did this work in the EE space?

Martijn: Former Oracle Java EE Evangelist Arun Gupta and JCP Program Manager Heather van Cura really rallied a lot of international user groups for Java EE 7, and got people building applications using the draft standards - and took their feedback to improve the quality of the final releases.

InfoQ: Sounds interesting. Will you be carrying the work forward into SE 9 and EE 8 ?

Martijn: For SE 9 we may not see a lot of library changes. However, there could be major changes for the VM - and those sort of modifications need a lot of battle-testing. The Adoption group inside OpenJDK, alongside the Quality Assurance group, is putting together a program of Open Source projects and organisations to regularly test early builds of Java 9 with application stacks - using a Continuous Integration approach. That effort is being led by Rory O'Donnell. On the hardware front, Red Hat's ARM64 port will be of interest to anyone who wants to start playing with the new ARM chips.

In the EE space, Oracle Java EE Evangelist Reza Rahman ran a massive survey to find out what developers want to see in EE 8. Several new projects have spun out of this - The AdoptAJSR project is tracking these at adoptajsr.org

InfoQ: What about the discussions around the new JSPA and, in particular, IP concerns?

Martijn: The JCP is very carefully working towards a new model that encourages OSS licenses, reference implementations and testing kits. These types of legal discussion need to be taken very seriously and have long-term impact on the platform - so they aren't usually very fast-moving discussions.

InfoQ: Finally, what does the future look like for the JCP?

Martijn: I think the JCP will, over time, become more responsive and attuned to modern development practices whilst retaining the core concern of producing very high quality standards for the Java platform.

The JCP EC meetings rotate between the global premises of members. Goldman Sachs hosted May's meeting in London with support from the LJC.

The meetings afford an opportunity for the EC to discuss progress towards new versions of Java standards and to ensure the ongoing health of the platform. Recent meetings have also included public events intended to allow community members to meet the EC and better understand the standardisation process.

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