Apache's Project Harmony involves building a Java-compatible implementation of J2SE 5 under the Apache License Version 2. The project will feature a modular run-time architecture, including a virtual machine and class library, to allow independent implementations to share run-time components and allow innovation in these components, according to Apache.
"What we're trying to do here is start a project to build a certified version of Java, J2SE 5," said Geir Magnusson, an Apache director. There is a lot of demand for this project, according to Magnusson.
Apache does plan to have its Java platform conform to the Java Community Process standard for Java implementations, Magnusson said.
"We definitely want to make sure that whatever we do is fully compatible," said Magnusson. The open source Java would, for example, allow users to port it to whatever platform they desire, he said.
Sun Microsystems, which developed Java and shepherds its development as part of the JCP, has opposed allowing Java to become a full-fledged open source technology, stressing the need for compatibility. The company has allowed for open source projects to be developed using Java technology, however.
In his blog, Sun Vice President Graham Hamilton expressed curiosity about the Apache project.
"Sun is a big supporter of Apache (this includes making donations of hardware and storage) and we're always very glad to see them participate in Java development. In many ways launching a J2SE project is the obvious next step in Apache's work around Java. Personally, I am very curious about how the Harmony project will work out -- creating a full scale implementation of J2SE is a mammoth task, as the Sun J2SE team knows only too well. However I wish Apache success and we'll certainly be tracking this as it develops. We'll probably participate in the project at some level, although most of our efforts will continue to be focused on building Sun's reference implementation of J2SE.
"Apache have always been a strong supporter of the Java compatibility program and I'm glad to see that they are emphasizing that commitment to compatibility as part of the Harmony project." Hamilton said.