JAX London 2014: A retrospective
JCP Chair reveals next stage of reform

Oracle files third JCP reform JSR for greater transparency

ChrisMayer
java-duke

Details have emerged from Oracle over how the JCP will change over the coming months to modify the legal agreement for JSRs, hopefully making things more open than they currently are.

After realising that the Java Community Process was no longer fit for purpose, you can’t really fault Oracle’s desire to bring an ailing open source model back to life that could offer greater transparency and broader participation.

First, JSR 348: Towards a new version of the Java Community Process (or JCP.next.1) made some notable, yet simple changes to the process back in October last year, which most JSRs took on board. However, there were some stumbling blocks which required more delicate attention. Then there was Step No. 2, JSR 355: JCP Executive Committee Merge, which is currently bringing together the two Executive Committees for the Java ME and Java SE platforms under one supreme group. As Java is heading down the convergence route, it seems logical to encourage efficiency within its Executive Committee, and greater synergy between the two Javas.

But until recently, we weren’t sure how Oracle was going to deal with the most important issues. Fortunately, JCP Chair, Patrick Curran unveiled all in a recent blogpost, revealing JSR 358: A major revision of the Java Community Process, (or JCP.next.3 as it will now be known). All the issues postponed from JCP.next.1 will be addressed here, as well as the more sensitive ones such as revising both the JSPA (Java Specification Process Agreement) and Process Document.

Curran mentions just some of the areas that JCP.next.3 will look at:

  • the role of independent implementations (those not derived from the Reference Implementation), 
  • licensing and open source, 
  • ensuring that new transparency requirements are properly implemented, 
  • compatibility policy and TCKs,
  • the role of individual members, 
  • patent policy,
  • IP flow.

The name of the JSR is probably enough to tell you how important this specification is for the future of the JCP – seeking to right some wrongs accumulated in the last decade, and clarify some ambiguity that has arisen. As Curran notes:

The current version of the JSPA was created back in 2002, although some minor changes were introduced in 2005. Since then the organization and the environment in which we operate have changed significantly, and it is now time to revise our processes to ensure that they meet our current needs.

Minutes from previous Executive Committee meetings reveal just how thorough discussions have been on how to improve the JCP, and now they want your engagement. Key debated issues will arise yet again in JCP.next.3 and you could shape the direction of the JCP in the coming years. Head over to java.net to find out more about this initiative. All deliberations will be copied to a public Observer mailing list, all issues will appear on a public Issue Tracker and all documents (meeting agendas and minutes, task lists, working drafts) will be published in the Document Archive. Now that’s transparency.

We’re glad the JCP is finally getting the attention it needs to fully become open for all, and they were right to hold off until now: it is imperative that everything is debated in full before a decision is made. If that takes a year, so be it. Sorting out the Executive Member who somehow forget to vote would be top of our list anyway.

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