May 21 2008

In Paris for a few days, Patrick Curran, Chair of the Java Community Process (the JCP), stops at the Paris JUG for a round table with Cedric Thomas (OW2), Guillaume Laforge (Groovy), Eric Samson (DataDirect Technologies) and Antonio Goncalves (Paris JUG).

More information at:

My (CT) take-away from this meeting:

*Key figures*: 6 million Java developers in the world, 1,300 members in the JCP, 80% of whom are individual members.

*On Open standards*: In open standards, all specifications are made available to all for public review (and use). Open standards tend to be more thouroughly tested and enjoy broader market share.

*On Testing*: "A standard is as good as its method of validation"; conformance testing however is not stress testing, the two are different.

*On Spec Leads*: Literally the owner of the specification, the IPR to the technology incorporated in the specifiation accrues to the Spec leads. The Spec Lead recruits and leads the Experts Group which then decides on its own working method.

*On current JCP evolution*: Now the JCP is a well proven process, Sun can afford to be less intrusive. Sun Microsystems used to be the copyright holder of everything, now it is the Spec Lead. In this context, Patrick Curran is fostering more transparency and openness through increasing adoption of open source methodologies.

*On open-sourcing TCKs*: A TCK is a complex thing to develop, takes time and money. At the JCP, the Spec Lead owns the TCK and is responsible and free to choose or not an open-source license. This is why some TCKs are freely available and others only accessible at a cost. 

*On why participate is an Expert Group*: Participating in an Expert Group helps keep aligned with technology evolutions, it helps vendors develop product which are immediately in the mainstream, it helps reduce the risks of wrong technical decisions.

For an account *on Q&A*, the best thing you can do is check Eric Samson's post at:

*A key message*: "You cannot build the software equivalent of skycrapers, railways, bridges, etc. without Standards and reliable standard parts."

*My two cents*: In a market where Java is not the only contendent (see Q&A), opening the JCP and broadening access to the TCKs is a way to enhance its competitiveness. There is a clear difference between ripping the benefits of a proprietary innovation and further growing market-wide acceptance of a standard (commoditized?) technology. Individual companies may pursue the former whereas the interest of a community organization such as the the JCP is clearly in the latter.