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Java Champions

Recently I got an e-mail with the following header: 'Your nomination to Sun Java Champions.'

Recently I got an e-mail with the following header: "Your nomination to Sun Java Champions."

My Java-intoxicated brain immediately started several parallel threads. Since I now use the Callable interface instead of Runnable, my threads can return results and throw exceptions.

The first thread threw a SpamException.

The second thread returned a String "but there is no attachments."

The third one gave me "The sender's address ends with sun.com."

But I liked the last thread the most: "Just open the e-mail, will you!"

I did, and this is how the e-mail started: "I am contacting to let you know that you have been nominated to the Sun Java Champions Program through the Java Champions homepage https://java-champions.dev.java.net/.

The Java Champions program is sponsored by Sun Microsystems and is an effort to recognize leaders in the Java Community and invite them to participate in the development of the Java platform in collaboration with Sun engineers and Java Luminaries."

No kidding! I accepted this nomination immediately. Then several members of Java Champions Selection committee approved my nomination too, and here I am a Java Champion!

I'm really proud to be listed on the same Web page with James Gosling, Doug Lea, Bill Venners, Gavin King, and other great Java world leaders. This program seems to be similar to Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional (MVP) deal, but let me find out from the source. Matt Thompson, director of Sun Developer Network & Open Source Programs Office has agreed to answer my questions.

Q: When was the Sun Java Champions program introduced?

A: It was introduced in June 2005 at the JavaOne conference in San Francisco.

Q: How do you decide who will get the T-shirt with the logo "Sun Java Champion"?

A: When we started the process, we looked around within the Java Community for leaders in the various parts of the Java eco-system (like JUG leaders, authors, trainers, professors, researchers, etc.). From this has grown a "community nomination" process that's both unique and a real strength. The community itself nominates most nominees and it selects new Java Champions through a peer review process. The criteria used are listed in the Java Champions homepage.

Q: How many Java Champions are there?

A: Currently there are about 70 Java Champions around the world, with another 40-50 in the selection process queue. Once we get up to 100 or so we're going to evaluate how many more are appropriate. The idea was always to make sure we built a community of Java Champions that reflects the top echelon of contributors to the Java Community.

Q: What feedback/contributions do you expect from the Champions?

A: I think what's interesting isn't what we expected, but rather what has happened. We've already engaged the Champions in a number of discussions about the state of Java training, the use of the Java brand, the state of Sun's Java tools, and several others. The overall discussion has been incredibly valuable and the feedback has been very well received within Sun.

As we go forward, we'll continue to share ideas and concepts with the Champions and use them as a sounding board for the larger Java community. The various discussions around the state of the Java platform are also an excellent resource for Sun to "take the pulse" of the Java eco-system. We're very fortunate to have a great group of Champions who are willing to share their views of how we can work together to continue to grow the adoption of the Java platform honestly and openly.

Q: I've already gotten a gift box of T-shirts, computer widgets, and a book. What other perks are you planning to offer to the Champions?

A: There are a number of benefits besides the "goodies" that the Champions have already received. One is the opportunity to meet directly with Sun leadership to discuss issues and opportunities around the Java platform. One of these meetings just took place at JavaPolis in Antwerp, where Jeff Jackson, senior vice-president of the Java platform, tools, and Sun's developer program (the Sun Developer Network), sat down with several Champions to discuss the state of the platform.

In the future we'll look at different ways to work directly with individual Champions to potentially highlight their work (either through speaking opportunities at Sun's developer events like JavaOne or the Sun Tech Days or online through Sun's developer portal: developers.sun.com).

Q: Now on the lighter note do you think a Java Champion can be called "The Brother or Sister of Java" or at least "The Cousin of Java"?

A: I look at these folks as the heroes of the Java platform - so brother/sister/cousin doesn't imply enough value (at least to me). These folks are truly both a wealth of knowledge for us to tap into, as well as a great resource to work with in making the Java platform easier to adopt worldwide.

Yakov. Thank you, Matt!

I'm very down-to-earth and realize that even though I'm a Champion, you can find plenty of people who know Java better than me. But you won't find too many people who enjoy living in this great Universe called Java Community more than I do.

More Stories By Yakov Fain

Yakov Fain is a co-founder of two software companies: Farata Systems and SuranceBay. He authored several technical books and lots of articles on software development. Yakov is Java Champion (https://java-champions.java.net). He leads leads Princeton Java Users Group. Two of Yakov's books will go in print this year: "Enterprise Web Development" (O'Reilly) and "Java For Kids" (No Starch Press).

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