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Over the past few weeks, I have been asked to assert a position when we'll see changes in the Java ecosystem, particularly now that some of the more incendiary opinions have quieted down. As ever, The Register cuts through the fear, uncertainly and doubt and really gets at the general longing to wake up Java as a platform.
I don't think it is unfair to say that The Java Community Process (JCP) is largely at fault for Java's fatigue symptoms. After all, major participants continue to vent their frustrations as to its lack of openness, its unnecessary paranoia with heavy weight and overly complicated TCKs and seemly agenda driven policies. Over the years rebellions have resulted in community driven skirmishes to come up with standards to allow for continued innovations to meet new challenges and spur developers forward. Think Hibernate, and increasingly OSGi as tangible examples of dissatisfaction of the output of the JCP.
So it begs the question - Is the platform doomed to a long term coma – not likely and encouraging signs from Java's new
steward are beginning to creep out.
Having personally participated in the JCP from various contexts, one of the successes of the Java platform has been the ability to come up with standards that generates cross industry buy-in – but the price for this buy-in has been a near European Parliament/United Nations pace of debate. Most recently at EclipseCon 2010, it is good to see quotes such as this from Steve Harris, SVP of App Server R&D at Oracle – "The JCP and Java overall needs to move faster be more agile and more flexible to the extent the JCP has been the primary vehicle to standardize Java and move it forward". Reading between the lines here, I think the broader suggestion is a tacit admission that the JCP is being over taken by the community who are not happy to wait around for standards to emerge. While it is understandable that the JCP will first look inwardly, it would be enormously beneficial to the community for the JCP to opt for an open engagement, one that throws a much broader net, and will in turn re-vitalize the JCP itself.
This article's closing comments are particularly important – standards are important, if not critical for shoring up and building on the investments people have made on the Java platform. The quote, from Justin Erenkrantz, ASF President says it all - "Why are standards important? They are very critical because as a consumer you want to take one implementation and use it with another implementation. When a programmer is building something they know what they are building to. It's easy and it's a level playing field."
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