Opening the doors

OSGi Alliance opens up on specifications

Chris Mayer

For more than a decade, the doors were closed on OSGi specification development to the public. Now, the OSGi Alliance are welcoming feedback from onlookers.

The OSGi Alliance has given the green light to a new more

transparent development process
, allowing non-members to
comment immediately on specifications.

By allowing immediate discussion on drafts, the
OSGi hope to generate greater adoption in the modular framework, as
well as improving the standardisation process. The Alliance’s
repository of active RFCs and RFP is now viewable through a

, while non-members are encouraged to submit
feedback through the

The public can comment immediately on requests
for comments (RFCs) and proposals (RFPs) on OSGI specifications.
While developers will be allowed to air their views (or possibly
grievances), the bulk of the technical work, such as approving
specifications still falls on OSGi Alliance members.

The OSGi framework has become the most
recognisable module system for Java, gaining prominence in
large-scale distributed and embedded environments thanks to the
creation of the OSGi Alliance in 1999. OSGi components are now
ubiquitous in the software industry, featuring in projects such as
the Eclipse IDE, the Spring Framework and numerous application

While those at Oracle struggle to implement a
modular architecture for Java (which was last year deferred until
2015 at the earliest), OSGi provides an alternative for those
looking for dynamism.

The move puts the OSGi Alliance on a par with
other open source organisations such as the Apache Foundation and
Eclipse Foundation. Mike Milinkovich, Eclipse’s executive director
has already giv
en his blessing,

, “the days of closed-door standards
development are over.”

Back in 2011,  the inner workings of the
Java Community Process were disclosed to the public thanks
, making it easier to track changes to license
and create greater openness in elections.

“We anticipate a ripple effect in OSGi adoption
as more third-party standards organizations reference OSGi
specifications in their implementations and the alliance may
include more IP-based comments in its final specifications,” said
Dan Bandera, OSGi Alliance president in a statement.

Another decision which may foster greater
adoption, at least at the enterprise level, is the return of Peter
Kriens, the former OSGi Alliance director. Kriens left the
organisation in 2012 to get “
in the trenches
” but has rejoined to help drive
adoption. Speaking to InfoQ in July, Kriens said:

The most important thing for OSGi is to drive adoption
by grass roots efforts. This is clearly one of the goals of my work
for the OSGi Alliance. By making it easier to get started with OSGi
for the most common cases we hope to increase knowledge of OSGi and
show the benefits of the service model. A lot of developers love
the architecture of OSGi, it is the getting started part that
throws them off I think.

Given that Kriens spent 11 years at the helm of OSGi,
it’s fair to say that he knows the biggest challenge for the OSGi
framework. Although present in many projects critical to
developers, usage of OSGi has yet to really trickle down to the
wider Java community. Complexity continues to hinder its progress,
but greater visibility should invite more developers to help craft
the module framework’s direction.

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