Hunting for the holy Graal

On the way to a polyglot future – GraalVM Project Advisory Board founded

Dominik Mohilo
© Shutterstock / Morphart Creation

In the open source universe, most projects have some form of governance. This can be called Board of Members, Project Lead or Advisory Board. Such a board has now been established for Oracle’s GraalVM, consisting of representatives of the most important companies that support the project.

When GraalVM officially reached production maturity in June 2018, it was already known that something big had been created there. Many people showed interest and meanwhile hundreds of committers have participated in the further development of the project. The community is large and development is progressing rapidly, but most importantly there are more and more projects (like Quarkus, Helidon, Micronaut, etc.) that rely on GraalVM. The open source virtual machine is playing an increasingly important role, so it’s no wonder that the various ideas and interests need to be discussed, shared and put on the right track in one place.

SEE ALSO: GraalVM 20.0 adds new features for Java, JavaScript, Python & more

GraalVM is an open source project, so vendor lock-in, and in this case Oracle would be the vendor, should be avoided. The easiest way to do this is to form a board of people representing the most heavily investing companies. The so-called GraalVM Project Advisory Board is supposed to support Thomas Würthinger (Project Lead of Oracle) and represent the community around GraalVM.

Board members

Lets take a look at which companies and faces are involved in the Advisory Board. Some of the names ring very loud and clear, especially in the Java universe, such as Johan Vos from Gluon, who is very involved in the JavaFX project, and Quarkus developer Max Rydahl Andersen from Red Hat, who is also known from the Eclipse environment.

The other representatives are Bernd Mathiske from Amazon, who created the Maxine VM, Bruno Caballero from Microdoc, and Chris Seaton from Shopify. Chris Thalinger from Twitter has been involved with GraalVM for quite a while now. Fabio Niephaus from the Hasso Plattner Institute is also involved, as well as Graeme Rocher from the Open Container Initiative (OCI), Michael Hunger from Neo4j, Sébastien Deleuze from Pivotal and Xiaohong Gong from ARM. The illustrous gathering is rounded off by Thomas Würthinger, the Project Lead of Oracle. The board is coordinated by Alina Yurenko, also employed at Oracle.

Although this list is already very full, the Advisory Board is prepared to admit new companies or organisations to the Board if there is a justified interest, as long as the new members commit themselves to the same goals and ideals. With a small smile, however, it should be noted that there are initially 12 board members – freely modelled on the Knights of the Round Table who were also looking for a holy grail…

The first meeting

In the first meeting, some important aspects were already discussed, such as the foundation of a group to deal with the security of the project. This “Security Collaboration Group” should act similarly to the well-known OpenJDK Vulnerability Group. They are still looking for clever minds for this, while a general concept for the group is already in progress.

Thomas Würthinger also welcomed the concept of smaller subgroups, such as those known from Kubernetes in the form of Special Interest Groups (SIGs), which take care of certain areas of the project such as security, individual languages, etc.

Those who are already involved in GraalVM as contributor or committer will surely be pleased to hear that the Advisory Board is determined to process open pull requests faster – or at least comment on them. Better error reporting will also be on the agenda in the future as well as support for the Java Flight Reporter.

SEE ALSO: GraalVM: Clearing up confusion around the term and why Twitter uses it in production

Several pull requests were discussed regarding technical details. Which ones exactly, can be found in the meeting notes. Last but not least, Thomas Würthinger announced the work on a new tool that can be used to visualize native images. This way it should be easier to find out what happens in the image and how to make it a bit smaller.

More information on the Advisory Board can be found on the official website of GraalVM, where you can also find the notes of the meetings afterwards. On Medium, Alina Yurenko, the coordinator of the board, has summarized the background to the foundation of the board.

The next meeting is planned for May, an exact date is still pending.

Dominik Mohilo
Dominik Mohilo studied German and sociology at the Frankfurt University, and works at S&S Media since 2015.

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