When Oracle completed its acquisition of Sun Microsystems a few weeks ago, one of the pledges the company made pertaining to its newly acquired Sun technologies was to make the Java Community Process -- the community-wide process for amending official Java specifications -- more participatory.
So far, Oracle has not elaborated on what its specific intentions are regarding the JCP, which for years has been criticized over Sun's domination of the endeavor. Oracle declined to be interviewed for this story; an Oracle Web page said the company has been a JCP executive member participating in more than 80 JSRs (Java specification requests), which are proposals to amend Java.
But Java developers and members of a JCP executive committee offered varying perspectives on what that they would like to see done with the JCP.
The case for a more democratic, open process
Companies like Red Hat have called for a more open process, with everyone acting as peers, notes Mark Little, chief technologist for the JBoss middleware unit of Red Hat and the company's representative on the JCP SE/EE executive committee.
"Sun has been under a lot of pressure the last couple of years to make things open," Little says. But a lack of openness has resulted in participants in the process feeling they did not have representation or a voice, he adds.
A former Oracle official was not optimistic about Oracle allowing more openness in the control of the JCP. Oracle, says Bill Maimone, now CTO at Oracle database competitor Ingres, does not have a history of having open processes. "It's a proprietary vendor designed to optimize revenue and take over the world," he says.
Siding with people who would like a more open process, Mark Volkmann, a steering committee member of the Saint Louis Java Users Group and a consultant at Object Computing, said his perception has been that the only way to have an impact on the JCP was to work for an influential company and be willing to attend frequent meetings dealing with a particular specification. "I guess in general I felt a bit locked out of the process," he says. (Volkmann notes that he has not personally been involved in JSR development.)
Still, Volkmann says he has seen technologies pop up to improve Java that sidestep the JCP. "A good example of that is the way that the Guice dependency injection framework got started," he says.