How to fix the JCP? Participate

Three panelists at TheServerSide Java Symposium said on Thursday that the best way to improve the Java Community Process is by getting more developers to participate. The best way to improve the Java Community Process is simply by participating, several key Java players said this morning.

During a keynote panel at TheServerSide Java Symposium on Thursday, Patrick Curran, James Gosling and Reza Rahman all said that participation is key to making the JCP work as it should, in a democratic fashion.

"We have a responsibility to keep an eye on what's going on," Rahman, a Java consultant and author. said. "Democracy is participation. If you don't participate and just complain about it, you're just on one side of that two-way street."

Cameron McKenzie, editor of, moderated the panel.

One attendee asked how busy Java developers can really get involved before a certain Java Specification Request (JSR) is fully baked. Curran, the head of the JCP, had a suggestion.

"The simplest way is to follow a JSR that you're interested in," he said. "You can read the spec, you can comment on it. I think the main thing is to watch what's happening."

Gosling, considered the father of Java, added that oftentimes the comments come too late, after the JSR is fully baked. To which Gosling replied: "There was a huge review cycle and you didn't show up?"

Overall we're trying to make sure people participate in the process smoothly. Most important we want to make it open so people can see what's happening.

Patrick Curran, head of the Java Community Process (JCP)

That said, all three said there were ways in which the JCP could improve. Curren, for example, said that the majority of JSRs out there have someone from Oracle as the spec lead. While he and Rahman said they wished there were more spec leads from other companies, they agreed that, as Rahman put it, it is somewhat of a "necessary evil" that Oracle is so prominent.

"A significant portion of the work to be done should be done by Oracle," Curran said.

Gosling added that one way to improve the JCP would be for participants to keep their conflicted interests separate.

"Number 1 is to leave the politics at the door," he said. "Number 2 is transparency. One of the problems all the expert groups get into is that you have people who with one hat they're engineers, and the other hat they're employees of some corporation. So there are competing agendas."

Curran agreed with Gosling's call for transparency.

"Overall we're trying to make sure people participate in the process smoothly," he said. "Most important we want to make it open so people can see what's happening."

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