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JDJ Meets Sun's JCP 2.6 Maestro, Aaron Williams

JDJ Meets Sun's JCP 2.6 Maestro, Aaron Williams

In a very brief 8 months Aaron Williams, spec lead for the largest expert group currently functioning in the JCP, guided the group to a consensus on the next version of the JCP.

Highlights of the next-generation JCP include processes to increase transparency, encourage broader participation, and improve overall efficiency of the process while support specification leads. In addition, it offers resources to reduce the burden on the spec leads.

"We want to involve more people sooner" said Williams in a recent interview. This version of the JCP opens up the first review period to all those that have access to the Internet and are able to download the documents. Prior to this revision, only community members were allowed to view and comment on specifications. In addition to increasing transparency, the change is expected to pave the way for comments from a much broader audience.

Other important change is the change in the voting process. Under past versions of the process, the first review period was followed by a vote in the executive committee (EC). The result is that "JSRs tend to get stuck in expert committees," said Williams.

The removal of the vote takes some pressure off of spec leads to get come up with all the answers this early on in the process. "We want to reduce the time (in review) from 9 to 6 months," Williams explained. One drawback to removing the vote is that it does delay input from the EC until the end of the review process. At first the spec leads felt uncomfortable as it left to many open questions but overall, the move is seen as an enabler.

The process will require the spec lead to provide a transparency plan to the EC. The EC will then work with the spec leads to help make the transparency plan stronger. When asked about the use of NDA in the process, Williams responded by saying that none of the legal agreements had been touched in this version of the JCP and as such NDA still stand. The JCP 2.6 will not require the spec lead to make all discussion public. Williams did point out that the current process does allow for the spec leads to be transparent and he pointed to Doug Lea's efforts as spec lead on JSR-166 as an example. But the JCP 2.6 will enable and encourage the spec leads to be more transparent.

To assist the spec leads, more documentations and tools will be provided to assist them. They will be provided with a Web site where they can post schedules and drafts for the community to see. Spec leads generally don't have the time to set this up, so now it will be set up for them. A calculated side-effect of increasing visibility is to encourage the public to participate and then join the JCP, and have more current JCP members join expert groups and become spec leads. Right now, leading a specification is considered to be a black art. Williams is banking on the belief that improved transparency will help demystify the process.

The process to appears to have broad support. Williams commented that instead of putting up resistance, the spec leads were all to eager to offer assistance. Only Sony failed to vote and while Nokia posted a comment, it  voted in favor of the new specification.

More Stories By Kirk Pepperdine

Kirk Pepperdine has more than 10 years of experience in OO technologies. In edition to his work in the area of performance tuning, Kirk has focused on building middleware for distributed applications.

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