JCP chair: Organization does not operate in secrecy

Rumors that the JCP is prohibitively secretive have dissuaded some people from participating in the group's work

The chair of the JCP (Java Community Process), the official mechanism for amending the Java platform, defended the organization's openness this week in response to contentions that the JCP operates in secrecy.

"The belief that the JCP is a secretive organization is widespread. I often hear it when I meet with Java developers," JCP Chair Patrick Curran said in a blog post. He added that some people have told him they are unwilling to participate because they believe they would be prohibited from discussing the group's work. "Not true," Curran exclaimed.

[ Also on InfoWorld.com: A Brazilian Java user group, SouJava, has been nominated to a spot on the Java SE/EE executive committee of the JCP to replace the Apache Software Foundation. | Master the latest in Java development with our JavaWorld Enterprise Java newsletter. ]

He said this belief likely comes from a "confidential information" clause in the Java Specification Participation Agreement pertaining only to information classified as confidential. This almost never happens, said Curran.

He made his defense of the JCP in response to former Sun Microsystems official Simon Phipps's contention, expressed in a blog and an email to Curran, that that the nomination of SouJava to the JCP executive committee could lead to the elimination of secrecy and confidentiality requirements. Sun oversaw the JCP before being acquired by Oracle last year.

Curran also refuted a notion that the JCP executive committee meets secretly and does not publish proceedings. "In fact, since September 2008, the full minutes and meeting materials have been public by default," Curran said. The committee does reserve the right to go into private session but does not do it often, he said.

Curran also denied a claim that the work of JCP expert groups is hidden from outsiders. "While this is sometimes true, it should be noted that about half of all currently active JSRs (Java Specification Requests) are being run as open source projects, while others use public mailing lists, public issue-tracking mechanisms, and similar transparency techniques," said Curran.

He expressed disappointment that progress in transparency has not been understood. "Obviously, we need to be even more transparent and to tell people what we're doing," he said.

The JCP has taken a lot of public relations hits lately, from such sources as Java founder James Gosling and Apache. Recently, Apache resigned from the JCP, arguing Oracle exercises too much control over it. Gosling distanced himself from the organization last year. In his blog entry, Phipps also referred to JSRs having "hostile" licensing terms to open source software. Apache, for its part, has had a dispute with Oracle and, prior to that, Sun about licensing for the Apache Harmony implementation of Java.

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