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Java, Standards, and Free Software in Europe

Bridging the digital divide

More recently Neelie Kroes, the EU's top antitrust official, reinforced this position, arguing in an apparent reference to the EU's anti-trust case against Microsoft that the European Commission "must not rely on one vendor, it must not accept closed standards and it must refuse to become locked into a particular technology" (see http://www.technologyreview.com/Wire/20889/).

Java and the JCP in Europe
Also, as in Brazil, Java is widely adopted in Europe because of the open process through which it is developed. European companies are well represented on the JCP's governing body, the EC: Nokia from Finland, Orange (France Telecom) from France, SAP and Siemens from Germany, Ericsson from Sweden, and Philips and Vodafone from the UK. These companies have led and continue to lead many JSRs. Other European organizations leading recent JSR development efforts include Open Cloud Ltd (UK), Day Software (Switzerland), and Graz University Institute for Applied Information Processing and Communication (Austria).

European participation in the JCP is not restricted to corporations. During the past year I've had the opportunity to meet and talk with Java Champions and Java User Groups in Munich, Antwerp, London, and Paris. During these meetings, as well as in similar discussions at JavaOne in San Francisco, a consistent theme emerged - the need for the JCP to be more open to the contributions of individuals and "non-corporate" members. We're moving in this direction, and we recognize the value that individuals, open source groups, and other "non-profits" bring to the Java community. In fact, several individuals from Europe and elsewhere are currently acting as Spec Leads, including Stephen Colebourne and Michael Nascimento Santos (JSR 310: Date and Time API) and Jean-Marie Dautelle and Werner Keil (JSR 275: Units Specification). Also, at Java-One the French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA) submitted their application to join the JCP. They had recently participated as part of the OW2 (ObjectWeb) Consortium, but they now recognize the need to have their own presence. We welcome them, as we welcome all research institutions.

Speaking of JavaOne, if you weren't able to attend and haven't yet viewed the keynote presentations online, I can strongly recommend James Gosling's discussion of how Java is used at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research, and home of the web browser). One of the most interesting examples is a Swing application for visualizing and processing the 15 peta-bytes of data that their Large Hadron Collider generates each year. See the webcast online - it's impressive. (The segment on using Java to map the surface of Mars is also well-worth watching, but I should probably hold off on further discussion of this until I write my "Java in outer space" column...)

This Month's Active JSRs
The period around JavaOne is always a busy one for the JCP, and consequently there have been more developments during the past month than I have room to discuss. Full details of all JSRs, as always, can be found at the jcp.org website (see the Focus on JSRs section on the home page for recent news). However, I would like to mention three recent developments. Two JSRs have recently passed their Final Approval Ballot, and therefore have reached the Final Release stage. Since I've previously discussed the first of these - JSR 286: Portlet Specification 2.0 - in this column, I will simply offer my congratulations to the Spec Lead, Stefan Hepper of IBM. The second, JSR 272: Mobile Broadcast Service API for Handheld Terminals is yet another joint effort from Nokia and Motorola. This JSR defines APIs that enable client Java applications on mobile devices to receive, display, and interact with content received over a digital broadcast link. Finally JSR 292: Supporting Dynamically Typed Languages on the Java Platform, led by Sun, published its Early Draft. This important JSR will make it easier to support dynamically typed languages - in particular, scripting languages - on the Java Virtual Machine. Java (the platform) is not just for Java (the language) any more. Many such languages are already supported (Ruby, Python, Groovy, and JavaScript to mention just a few), but efficient and high-performing implementations can be difficult given the Java VM's "bias" toward static typing. This JSR will remedy this situation, encouraging the support of many more languages on the Java VM and helping to ensure that Java remains the platform of choice for all kinds of software implementations.

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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