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Java and Free Software in Brazil

Bridging the digital divide

A couple of other recent announcements illustrate the strength of the free software movement in Brazil. At this year’s FISL, the Brazilian Ministry of Education announced plans to deploy 53,000 computer labs throughout the country, giving 52 million students access to computer resources. The computers in the labs will be run as a Linux distribution called Linux Educacional, which is based on Debian and the KDE desktop. Also this month, the Brazilian Election Supreme Court announced that the 2008 elections in Brazil will switch from proprietary OS-based electronic voting machines to systems based on GNU/Linux.

Digital TV in Brazil
Brazil, like the United States, is facing a transition to digital TV transmission in the near future. By the year 2016, analog transmissions will cease, and all TV broadcasting will be digital. Brazil intends to tackle this transition in a more ambitious manner than the U.S. – defining a digital TV standard that will not only serve TVs but also mobile devices. In line with its policy of providing equal access to all citizens, they have chosen an open source and royalty-free approach that defines a Java-based platform for the delivery of interactive services for digital TV devices. The specification builds on the same Java platform that currently serves as the basis for other widely deployed digital television standards, including OpenCable/tru2way, Multimedia Home Platform, GEM-IPTV, and Blu-ray Disc/BDJ.

It’s fitting that Java is now the platform of choice for implementing interactive TV infrastructure and applications, since the language – back when it was called Oak – was originally designed for just this purpose.

This Month’s Active JSRs
This month three JSRs reached the Early Draft Review (EDR) stage. The Early Draft is the Expert Group’s first deliverable. There’s no ballot at this stage – the draft is simply intended to provide the JCP membership and the public with something that is detailed enough to generate useful feedback. I encourage you to download the drafts from the JCP website (follow the links below) and to send your feedback to the Spec Leads.

JSR 303: Bean Validation, led by RedHat, defines a metadata model (based on annotations and XML descriptors) and API for JavaBean validation, enabling simple and reusable validation mechanisms at each tier of the application.

JSR 235: Service Data Objects, led by IBM and BEA, standardizes Data Objects in terms of change history, compound data objects, dynamic and generated API, metadata, support for XML and Web services, neutral representation of business data, import/export from common formats, validation and constraints, relationship integrity, and navigation.

JSR 249: Mobile Service Architecture 2, led by Vodafone and Nokia, updates the Mobile Service Architecture (MSA) specification (JSR 248) to incorporate new component JSRs and to define additional clarifications and requirements for implementing the JSRs in mobile devices.

Two JSRs Submitted for Initial Approval Ballot
It may seem as if JSR approval ballots are a foregone conclusion and that rejection is unlikely, but the example of JSR 324: On Screen MIDlet API for Java ME (led by SK Telecom) demonstrates that it’s not always so simple. This JSR proposed to define APIs to enable MIDlets to be displayed and activated on the idle screen of embedded devices. The JSR failed its approval ballot in April 2008. Those voting “no” argued that idle screen integration should be handled by JSR 271 MIDP 3, and that a separate JSR defining additional APIs is unnecessary.

The ballot for JSR 325: IMS Communication Enablers has not yet closed (as I write this), but since this JSR extends rather than overlaps with another it’s more likely to be approved. The JSR builds on JSR 281, defining a high-level framework and API that will provide Java ME-based devices with a simple way to access IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) Communication Enablers for services such as Presence, Instant Messaging, Multimedia Telephony, and Push to talk Over Cellular (PoC).

Finally this month, JSR 113: Java Speech API 2.0, led by Conversational Computing Corporation, is up for its Final Approval Ballot. Version 1 of the Java Speech API, which was developed by Sun before the JCP was created, defines APIs that allow developers to incorporate speech technology into user interfaces for their Java programming language applets and applications. Version 2.0 extends and builds on version 1, and tracks the emerging W3C Speech Interface Framework whenever possible.

More Stories By Patrick Curran

Patrick Curran is chair of the JCP and director of the JCP Program at Sun Microsystems, Inc.

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