Successful Community

By Steve Gillmor  |  Posted 2004-06-28 Print this article Print

Look, Im not suggesting its a good idea or a bad idea, I just think its a tough row to hoe. A client without a server is a lot more useful than a server without a client. Think of the number of clients out there that are useful on a standalone basis. There are lots to be named. Think of the number of servers that are useful without a client—not so many. You mentioned Workplace is just Domino all over again. Lotus kept crashing up against this barrier about persistence on the client. When they harnessed Java, they always had the problem of downloading the applets every time.
No, no, no. It all depends on how you look at it. The problem that Lotus had in leveraging Java was that their apps werent very good.
But its stupid to download a Java applet every time you want to run something on your client. Theres no agreed-upon persistence mechanism available. This is an avenue toward getting that. Why wouldnt that be a good idea? Its a very good idea. But the issue for Sun isnt whether or not BEAs got a good idea. Its whether or not we can drive the community of developers, the Java Community Process, to agree on the same good idea—because thats what the evolution of a standard is called, other than innovation in a specific product. BEA has done all kinds of magical stuff thats done a very nice job, but weve got to be concerned not simply with making BEA successful, weve got to be concerned with making a community successful. What you just outlined is exactly the tension that we find in the marketplace. You have a developer, whether its SAP or BEA or IBM, that comes up to us and says, "Weve done something really interesting. You need to make this a standard and distribute it." And theyre all very frustrated at our intransigence in saying, "No, its got to be compatible across the community." And thats where they end up saying the JCP slows things down. It doesnt slow things down; it hastens the evolution of standards, which in the case of those that are seeking to bypass those standards in pursuit of delivering their specific product, is frustrating. But customers really enjoy having a standard because it enables competition. Check out eWEEK.coms Developer & Web Services Center at for the latest news, reviews and analysis in programming environments and developer tools.

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Steve Gillmor is editor of's Messaging & Collaboration Center. As a principal reviewer at Byte magazine, Gillmor covered areas including Visual Basic, NT open systems, Lotus Notes and other collaborative software systems. After stints as a contributing editor at InformationWeek Labs, editor in chief at Enterprise Development Magazine, editor in chief and editorial director at XML and Java Pro Magazines, he joined InfoWorld as test center director and columnist.

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