Java amendment process is revised

The Java Community Process, the official procedure for defining Java programming standards, is being updated to enable earlier participation by developers, JCP officials announced on Tuesday.

JCP 2.6 is being described by the JCP Program Management Office and Executive Committees as the most transparent and accessible iteration in the program's evolution. With JCP 2.6, earlier access to draft specifications is provided to a broader group of developers for feedback, according to JCP officials.

Specifically, Version 2.6 opens up the first draft review to the public and offers developers early access to information about specifications. Developers are encouraged to provide more input earlier than before.

"In 2.6, one of the biggest changes that we've made is to add a transparency plan to each JSR," said Aaron Williams, executive relations manager for JCP and a Sun Microsystems employee. Officials with JCP define transparency as providing information about specific Java Specification Requests.

Currently, each JSR undergoes early and later review periods. Under the current process, the first review is available only to official JCP members while the second review is available to the public. "Under JCP 2.6, we've increased the transparency by making the first review [period] open to the public," Williams said. "It's going to provide the public with the opportunity for providing comment and feedback on that draft."

An official with Javalobby.org, an independent group of Java developers, favored the earlier participation by the general developer community at large.

" I would always favor greater transparency because I think that there are many who may have useful insights or contributions to the overall process but who cannot afford either the time or the other resources to be JCP (members)," said Rick Ross, founder of Javalobby.org.

Additionally, moving balloting on JSRs to a second review period is expected to shorten the time it takes for an initial review period, Williams said. Currently, it takes several months for the first review because with a ballot taken after the initial review; developers of JSRs want to make sure their specification is developed enough so that it will not be voted down, he said.

"That change alone is going to encourage spec leads and expert groups to take their JSRs earlier to review than they do today," said Williams.

Also being added in JSR 2.6 are tools to make it easier for specification leads to perform their job, including a community page that leads can use to provide drafts of the specification as well as scheduled updates. Version 2.6 also features overseer aliases to make it possible for people to participate who interested in a JSR but lack time to commit to a JSR expert group.

Recently, IBM Corp. has charged that Sun Microsystems Inc. has too much control over the Java process. Williams said the changes in the JCP would make the process more participatory and open. An IBM representative Monday said the company would have no comment on JCP 2.6.

The JCP has produced JSRs such as JSR-127, to boost development of user interfaces for Web applications, and JSR-168, for portal interoperability.

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