Oracle proposal would create single committee to oversee Java specs

Java EE/SE and ME specifications would all be under one committee's auspices if the proposal is accepted

If a new proposal by Oracle is accepted, oversight of Java technical standards will fall under the auspices of a single committee, rather than the current system, which has separate entities for Java EE/SE and ME.

Java SE and EE concern desktop and server environments while ME is for mobile and embedded uses of Java.

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Oracle gained ownership of Java through the acquisition of Sun Microsystems, but standard technical specifications for it are still guided by the JCP (Java Community Process), an organization made up of companies and individuals with a vested interest in the open source language.

"Changes in the Java ME market, and the increasing maturity and consolidation of the Java market generally, suggests that some rebalancing between Java ME and the other platforms, together with a modest reduction in the total number of EC members, would be appropriate," said Oracle's proposal, which was submitted this week. "Looking forward, the expected convergence between Java ME and Java SE is likely to render the current division into two separate ECs increasingly irrelevant. Since Java is One Platform, it ought to be overseen by a single Executive Committee."

The Oracle proposal would cut the total number of committee members down from 32, but retain a two-to-one ratio of ratified and elected seats, according to the JCP's website. "On the merged EC, neither Oracle nor any other member may hold more than one seat," it adds.

The JSR (Java Specification Request) is being overseen by an Expert Group consisting of representatives from a wide variety of companies, including Oracle, IBM, Intel, and Siemens. Its work is expected to take about six months, "thereby permitting the changes to be initiated during the 2012 elections," according to the site. "The [Expert Group] recognizes, however, that the changes may need to be phased in over time."

In the interest of fairness, all members would "have an equal chance of losing their seats through elimination," it adds. In addition, "Oracle should have the greatest possible flexibility in reallocating ratified seats to ensure that the merged EC adequately and fairly represents the entire Java ecosystem."

The proposal is the second in three measures that were outlined by JCP chairman Patrick Curran in a blog post last year. The first, passed last year, sought to make the specification process more transparent and public.

A third, which has yet to be submitted, will concern "more complex changes," including possible modifications to the Java Specification Participation Agreement, a legal contract under which the JCP operates, Curran wrote at the time.

That proposal seems to have more potential for controversy, given recent history. The Apache Foundation quit the JCP last year following a JSPA-related disagreement with Oracle. The ASF maintained that Oracle was failing to provide it with an acceptable license for a TCK (technology compatibility kit) that would enable it to test its Harmony project, an implementation of Java SE, as warranted under the JSPA.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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