As of March 9, 2004, the Java Community Process (JCP) is operating under a new set of rules designed to encourage more participation by a broader range of developers and simplify the process of creating compatible Java technology APIs. The JCP program is the open community process used to develop and revise Java technology specifications, reference implementations (RIs), and technology compatibility kits (TCKs) since 1998. Today, more than 230 publicly submitted Java Specification Requests (JSRs) are in development through the JCP, with 46 percent in the final stages, and the organization has grown to more than 700 company and individual members. Better yet, operating under its new provisions, known as JCP 2.6, the JCP is now a more inclusive, accessible, and responsive organization for all, ready for growth in many new directions.
Responding to the Community
The procedural rules of the JCP have always attracted critics, and their criticism has greatly shaped the evolution of the JCP over the years. JCP 2.6, defined by JSR 215, is the best example of that process in action. In February 2003, Aaron Williams (JCP executive relations manager and spec lead on JSR 215) and the Executive Committees of the JCP formulated the first version of the specific changes to be made in JCP 2.6. Their goals were to make each JSR's work-in-progress easier to access, and offer more ways for the community and public to actively participate. "In short, the modifications contained in JCP 2.6 are designed to increase public participation, process transparency, specification visibility, guideline availability, and operational efficiency of the JCP itself," says Williams. JCP 2.6 was reviewed by the community and the public, and approved by the Executive Committees through the standard JCP JSR review process.
Improved Communications Resources
JCP 2.6 actively encourages more developers to contribute to the JSR process. For example, the initial review period for each JSR has been opened to the public, and changed to encourage JSRs to enter review earlier, with more open issues. This change will ensure Spec Leads get more valuable feedback at an earlier stage of development. Plus, each Spec Lead, the individual in charge of a JSR, is mandated to provide maximal process transparency to the JCP Executive Committee members, community, and the public. As part of JCP 2.6, each new JSR must include a transparency plan, which outlines the tools and techniques that the Spec Lead will use during the creation and development of the specification, for communicating JSR progress at each stage.
New Leadership and Development Resources
The Program Management Office, which oversees the daily business of the JCP, is now providing Spec Leads with more tools and techniques to make the activities of each JSR Expert Group more well known, which in turn, opens them up to more feedback from a wider variety of sources and helps build broader support for the final spec. Not only will this help standardize group leadership but also help attract a more diverse range of Spec Leads and Expert Group members, especially from smaller companies. Being a Spec Lead is a challenging responsibility, and it is currently weighted heavily towards the larger companies. But smaller companies and individual members are gradually taking higher profile roles in the community, and JCP 2.6 encourages their momentum. It is now easier than ever for individuals to join JSR Expert Groups and lead them, and even become involved in the JCP's Executive Committees. The new rules also simplify the complexities of the Reference Implementation (RI) and Technical Compatibility Kit (TCK) associated with a JSR. The provisions offer specific guidelines for developing a TCK and improve the communication between Spec Leads and the Executive Committees. There is also a required substantiation of the TCK's quality and sufficiency based on test results.
Voices of JCP 2.6
JCP 2.6 was only possible through the hard work of hundreds of individuals. Here are the comments of just a few of these people.
Geir Magnusson Jr.
Keep Moving Forward
The JSR 215 Expert Group responsible for specifying JCP 2.6 is one of the JCP's largest groups, with 32 seats. For a complete list, visit http://jcp.org/en/participation/committee. Representing 8 months of dedicated work, JCP 2.6 is a major step in the evolutionary process to bring you a more stable, higher-performing, more secure Java platform, whether you are a developer, reseller, or user. And as always, the JCP Executive Committees are seeking community input on ways to improve the next version.
Java Community Process
JSR 215 details
Spec Lead Guide
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