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Ringing in the New Year

Ringing in the New Year

The year 2006 was a great year for community technology development across the board. At the JCP, Spec Leads, Expert Groups members, observers and Executive Committee members worked together to take Java standards to the next level of development. Women Spec Leads had an outstanding contribution; in 2006 several of them won the distinction of Star Spec Leads for their leadership in driving Java specifications from concept, submission, standard development, to Technology Compatibility Kit (TCK) and Reference Implementation (RI) delivery. Ekaterina Chtcherbina was one of them. Always passionate about Java and the community, she felt strongly that "Java technology for me is not just a programming language. Rather it is a new style of technology innovation. Java technology is not created somewhere and given as a final technology to everyone. Instead, the evolution of Java technology relies highly on the community input."

Another woman Star Spec Lead of 2006 was Jaana Majakangas, a senior design engineer at Nokia Corporation. Jaana always found the spec lead work deeply satisfying. "I like my current role where we create a standard in some area, and it is interesting to see how it is then implemented in actual products. This gives us feedback on how we have succeeded," she said.

Linda DeMichiel, senior engineer at Sun Microsystems, also gained the distinction of Star Spec Lead in 2006. Linda provided strong leadership for the Expert Group of JSR 220 (EJB 3.0) and lent her expertise to the effort of making EJB components easier to use and the EJB programming model more flexible and powerful.

Pia Niemela, another woman Spec Lead from Nokia Corporation, earned the Star Spec Lead distinction for her JSR leadership especially for JSR 256 Mobile Sensor API, which she brought successfully to its final development stage.

Six more new spec leads reached stardom in 2006: Danny Coward, Pierre Gauthier, Éamonn McManus, Antti Rantalahti, Bill Shannon, and Shai Gotlib; they consistently set the bar higher with quality and timely delivery of their JSRs. If you want to find out more about these Spec Leads and the JSRs they lead, visit http://jcp.org/en/press/news/star.

More JCP landmarks and successes were recognized at the 2006 JavaOne Conference. The community was brought into the spotlight repeatedly and credited for its role and contributions by leading names in the industry including Sun Microsystems' CEO Jonathan Schwartz and other conference speakers who urged attendees to join the community. A good measure of the 2006 JCP accomplishments is provided by the 4th JCP Annual Awards and its winners. This year, after the nominations round, there were about three to four candidates for the winner title in each category - all very strong. There are five categories in which contenders vie each year to make the top four or five; this year's winners are noted in parentheses: Member of the Year (Sony Ericsson), Most Outstanding Spec Lead for Java Standard Edition/Enterprise Edition (Linda DeMichiel), Most Outstanding Spec Lead for Java Micro Edition (Asko Komsi, Mark Duesner), Most Innovative JSR for Java Standard Edition/Enterprise Edition (JSR 292 Supporting Dynamically Typed Languages on the Java Platform), and Most Innovative JSR for Java Micro Edition (JSR 272 Mobile Broadcast Service API for Handheld Terminals). Go to http://jcp.org/en/press/news/awards/2006award_nominees for a complete list of the nominees and a description of the awards categories including jurying criteria.

JCP inspired JSR itineraries at the 2006 JavaOne Conference took attendees on interesting journeys of standards discovery. They included sessions regarding key directions of the Java Platform, Standard Edition 6 (Java SE 6), and Java Platform, Enterprise Edition 5 (Java EE 5); JSR 270, the topic of an advanced how-to session that presented the scripting features in Java SE 6, including the scripting APIs and the JavaScript ScriptEngine included in the latest release; JSR 224, Java API for XML-Based Web Services (JAX-WS) 2.0; JSR 286, Version 2.0 of the Portlet Specification; JSR 277, Java Module System; JSR 220, Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB) 3; JSR, 269, Pluggable Annotation Processing API; JSR 235, Service Data Objects (SDO); JSR 235, Service Data Objects (SDO); JSR 256, Mobile Sensor API; JSR 248, Mobile Service Architecture; JSR 232, Mobile Operational Management; JSR 257, Contactless Communication API; and JSR 272, Mobile Broadcast Service API for Handheld Terminals. These are just a few examples of JSR-based technology events at the 2006 JavaOne Conference. For a complete search of JSR-based sessions, go to http://java.sun.com/javaone/sf/sessions.jsp.

2006 was also the year the JCP Training Program went virtual. With this the JCP has come to the rescue of those who cannot travel to in-person training events and prefer taking the training program virtually through the JCP.org site.

It was also the year of a new effort initiated to improve and change the Java Community Process through JSR 306. From the developer feedback we received regarding the content of the JSR, "Improving involvement of individuals" was the top pick, closely followed by "Optimizing duration of JSRs." Also "Easing migration of existing technologies into standards" got a good number of votes. Summarizing, JSR 306 will explore the possibilities of implementing certain specifications outside the Java platform. In EC talk, these have been labeled as "Hybrid JSRs." By "non-Java," the JSR drivers mean anything that is written and runs entirely outside the Java environment. It could be written in C, in Ruby, in COBOL, or Prolog for that matter. The point is that there are situations where it makes sense to enable the JCP to specify APIs that can be implemented in a Java application and in other architectures. Web services interoperability can be one context; Java language features clearly not. "Hybrid" then describes a JSR that allows both: it still must do all the known Java work and may then also allow the gathered IP to be implemented in another world other than Java.

Increasing openness and transparency of expert group discussions and other related communications at the JCP are also among the goals of the JSR. They are often-raised topics and very valid ones. From a developer's point of view, it is difficult to understand why public access is not granted on Java specification efforts that the developer is interested in. In earlier versions of the JCP, the first draft review, then known as Community Review, was restricted to the JCP membership. Meanwhile we made all draft reviews public and rightly so! Nothing scary happened. Since JCP 2.5, the spec lead and expert group have had considerable freedom over how they conduct their work. Several spec leads have taken that freedom to run their JSRs in a very open manner, with Doug Lea's JSR 166 often used as the prime example. Again nothing scary happened. Many external standards organizations and many JSRs have a desire to work together (OSGi, OMG with CORBA, OMA, and various Java ME-related JSRs are some of the examples). On previous occasions when we looked at this, the solutions always seemed complex. Now, in JSR 306, it appears we may be able to build such liaison relationships and provide that much-sought-after transparency with the same edit to the JSPA, the membership agreement.

Individual developer's participation will be included in the scope of JSR 306 as well. Joining the JCP as an individual is evidently possible as proven by the 700 or so individual members out of the total membership number of 1100, but admittedly it is not a turnkey effort. When the JCP first started in December 1998 it was aimed at enabling corporations and institutions to come together over the standardization of Java technology. The membership agreement might seem lengthy to some; it is because it needs to capture all the IP aspects due to the JCP's mandate that JSRs deliver a spec but also two pieces of software (the RI and TCK). This makes the membership agreement complex to a degree that you're not typically used to dealing with as an individual. The Web site (JCP.org) can also play a role here. In parallel to JSR 306, my team will be working to improve the information provided on the site about the membership process. Keep your opinions coming regarding JSR 306; you can send them to the Spec Lead ([email protected]) or to the JSR expert group ([email protected]).

The JCP wrapped up the year with Executive Committee elections and key JSRs that crossed the finish line. Election congratulations go this year to IBM; Oracle; HP; Fujitsu; Doug Lea, professor of computer science; Motorola; Vodafone; Siemens; BenQ; Ericsson AB; and Jean-Marie Dautelle, individual developer and initiator of several open source projects. They were all elected or re-elected on the JCP SE/EE EC and ME EC, respectively. More details about the EC members and their Java technology and community expertise are posted on jcp.org at http://jcp.org/en/press/news/ec-feature_SE091206 for SE/EE EC and at http://jcp.org/en/press/news/ec-feature_ME091206 for ME EC.

One of the JSRs finalized in the last weeks of December 2006 is JSR 270, Java SE 6 Release Contents, which published its Final Release on December 11. The major themes of this release are compatibility and stability; diagnosability, monitoring and management; ease of development; enterprise desktop; XML and Web services; and transparency. Most of these are continuations of successful themes from the Java SE 5 release. The last theme, transparency, is new and reflects Sun's ongoing effort to evolve the Java SE platform in a more open and transparent manner. As the lead of this umbrella JSR, Sun worked closely with an Expert Group of 18 members including ASF, BEA, Capgemini, Google, HP, IBM, Intel, MetaSolv Software, Oracle, Red Hat Middleware, SAP, SAS, Thoughtworks, and several passionate individual developers and representatives of the academic world. Feedback from the broader Java community was also included in this release through the input developers shared via java.net. The specification including the RI and the TCK can be downloaded from http://jcp.org/aboutJava/communityprocess/final/jsr270/index.html. For a perspective on the top 10 reasons why developers should upgrade to this new release of Java SE, visit Danny Coward's blog at http://blogs.sun.com/dannycoward/entry/java_se_6_top_ten.

Among the component JSRs developed in close synchronization with JSR 270, Java SE 6, which also posted their Final Releases on December 11, are JSR 199, Java Compiler API; JSR 202, Java Class File Specification Update; JSR 221, JDBC 4.0 API Specification; JSR 223, Scripting for the Java Platform; JSR 268, Java Smart Card I/O API; and JSR 269, Pluggable Annotation Processing API.

The other umbrella JSR that published its Final Release just before the turn of the year was JSR 248, Mobile Service Architecture. The main focus of this JSR has been to create a very predictive Java platform for mobile devices through continual architectural consistency, focus, and direction to the collection of efforts for Java ME. It has also been driven by the need in the marketplace for a clear statement on how the various technologies fit and work together. The co-Spec Leads from Nokia and Vodafone note on the JSR Public Page (http://jcp.org/en/jsr/detail?id=248): "This JSR provides guidelines to integrate Java ME JSRs in a uniform and predictable arrangement that is customized specifically for the high-volume handsets. It issues clarifications on certain components when necessary and aims at reducing the number of available options." The Final Release can be downloaded from http://jcp.org/en/jsr/stage?listBy=final.

This is just a quick recap of what went on at the JCP in 2006 - a busy year with important developments and accomplishments that bode well for the new year ahead of us.

Stay tuned for updates, which we will continue to bring to you year round.

More Stories By Onno Kluyt

Onno Kluyt is the chairperson of the JCP Program Management Office, Sun Microsystems.

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