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From Java EE to Jakarta EE: the Java EE Guardians Rebranding Debate with Oracle

| by Michael Redlich Follow 17 Followers on Feb 18, 2018. Estimated reading time: 5 minutes |

The Java EE Guardians, frustrated by the lack of response by Oracle to months of Java community feedback, submitted an open letter earlier this year to express their concerns over Oracle's restriction of the use of "Java" and "javax" package names for EE4J. Oracle has maintained their position based on their trademark usage guidelines. Well-known Java EE evangelist, Reza Rahman, senior architect at CapTech Consulting, also personally delivered a copy of the open letter to Oracle.

Shortly after Oracle open sourced Java EE in August 2017, Rahman conducted a Twitter survey regarding the potential renaming of Java EE with the following results:

The Java community overwhelming voted to keep the Java EE name.

In September 2017, Oracle explicitly expressed their desire to rebrand the Java EE name when they announced the transfer of ownership to the Eclipse Foundation. In response, the Java EE Guardians published a form for the Java community to provide feedback. All comments were sent to Oracle's feedback@javaee.groups.io e-mail address and to senior employees at IBM, Red Hat, and Eclipse. Rahman recently told InfoQ:

As a result, there is no doubt that email address received the most amount of feedback on the issue of branding. Even now, people are still using the form to tell Oracle what they think.

Wayne Beaton, director of open source projects at the Eclipse Foundation, initiated a nomination process in November 2017 to select a new brand name. He described the rationale:

We need a new name to replace "Java EE." Much like the OpenJDK project implements the Java SE Platform specification, the EE4J projects will provide implementations of a set of specifications that we today call Java EE: we need a brand name for this set of specifications.

This nomination process was open for two weeks and the results were reviewed by the EE4J Project Management Committee.

Rahman solicited feedback from the Java community again, this time, with a survey on keeping the Java EE and javax.enterprise package names:

Once again, the Java community overwhelming voted to keep the Java EE name and the javax.enterprise package names.

In the open letter to Oracle, Rahman summarized the Java EE Guardians position on rebranding:

We believe this desire is not aligned with the best interests of the community and the industry. This may indeed also be true of Oracle's own business interests as Java EE is moved further in the direction of microservices, the cloud and serverless computing.

The clearest evidence that the current direction to rename and repackage Java EE is wrongheaded is community opinion. When asked, developers overwhelmingly support keeping the Java EE name and "javax" packages. These preferences are so strong they have remained unchanged for several months even despite current declared EE4J plans.

Will Lyons, senior director of WebLogic Server Product Management at Oracle, responded to the Rahman, stating:

The industry has changed since the Java EE development process was originally created. The process was not seen as being nimble, flexible or open enough. Our shared goal is to create a more nimble process, with more flexible licensing, and more open governance that is not dependent on a single vendor. We believe this will encourage more participation and innovation. We see general support for this new direction from across the community.

This new direction implies many changes, starting with a change in the technology development process. The Java EE process, or to be more specific, the JCP process that was used for Java EE development, is a highly structured process that grants specification leads significant influence over how technologies are specified and implemented. The EE4J process will be different. It will be more open. Single vendors including Oracle will continue to contribute, but will no longer have the same level of influence over how new EE4J technologies evolve. We believe there is consensus that this is a positive step for the community.

At this time, existing javax.* packages in Java EE could still be used by Java community and ownership transferred to the Eclipse Foundation, but newer packages should be org.eclipse.xxx.

Despite all the efforts by Rahman and the Java EE Guardians with data from the Java community to keep the "Java" and "javax" names, the process of determining a new name for Java EE will move forward. A new poll to select Java EE's new name recently opened. There are two choices:

  • Jakarta EE
  • Enterprise Profile

This poll closes on February 23, 2018 and participants may only vote once.

Jakarta EE

Once used by the Apache Foundation for stewarding various Java subprojects such as Ant, Commons, JAMES, etc., the Jakarta name was retired in December 2011 when all the subprojects were migrated to their own respective projects.

David Blevins, founder of Tomitribe, recently blogged about the migration from Java EE to Jakarta EE, but also stated Tomitribe's original position on rebranding:

We've generally stayed quiet about the Java EE rebranding in large part because we love "Java EE" and even larger because the legal complexities around the Java trademark are severely complicated.

Kenneth Jaeger, senior programmer/analyst at IPFW, originally suggested the name in response to Beaton's November 2017 blog post, but it wasn't very well received, as Blevins recalled:

It was immediately down voted 8 times and I admit to not liking it at first either. Then weeks later, that magical thing happens which tends to occur in situations like this, you spontaneously invent what's already been invented.

Ivar Grimstad, principal consultant for the Cybercom Group, also blogged his support for the Jakarta EE name.

InfoQ reached out to Rahman about rebranding and issued the following statement:

I have no doubt whatsoever the decision to forcefully distance EE4J from the official open standard Java platform won't sit well with most people in the community. Unfortunately I think at this stage the community has done everything that it constructively can. Taking this further risks undermining the EE4J initiative if Oracle refuses to relent it's control of the Java EE brand after a bitter struggle.

Jakarata EE is the closest thing we are going to get short of Oracle cooperating. That's why my fellow Java EE Guardian Kenneth Jaeger originally suggested it. I am glad EE4J picked up the suggestion and Apache is allowing the name. It abbreviates neatly to JEE and the name Jakarta has a deep heritage in open source Java as well as Sun Microsystems. The name has been very warmly received by the community and that is a great sign. I hope Jakarta EE wins.

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java EE by Konstantin Ignatyev

gee, less than 2000 people bothered to vote on this EE ... thunderstorm in a teapot ;)

Re: java EE by Reza Rahman

The final number of votes is actually 7,000 in about two weeks. By comparison, the largest major Java survey - RebelLabs Java Developer Productivity Report - garners just about 2000. Something to think about.

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