SAN FRANCISCO—Sun Microsystems Inc. continues to take hits for its stewardship of Java, although the companys chief Java steward says all is well.
At a roundtable here sponsored by Borland Software Corp., some industry observers and participants spoke of the possibility of fragmentation of Java and how Sun, through the Java Community Process (JCP), which the company heads, is handling its role as Java steward.
Rob Gingell, Sun chief engineer and chair of the JCP, told eWEEK that new revisions going into the next version of the JCP will open up the workings of the organization to broader scrutiny. The JCP is the organization that directs the evolution of the Java platform and initiates and approves new Java technology and specifications.
Last month, Sun announced plans to update the JCP to make the whole process more “transparent,” said Onno Kluyt, a Sun engineer and director of the JCP PMO.
The new version of the JCP will be known as version 2.6 and will be outlined in Java Specification Request (JSR) 215. The proposed changes in JCP 2.6 represent the second revision going into the program in eight months.
Kluyt said other changes include a proposal for a new class of member, the Expert Group Observer, which will enable more developers to provide feedback on Java Specification Requests (JSRs).
“The effects of opening some of this up will be that not only will people whove been involved be more open, but the process itself will be more open” to observation, Gingell said in an interview at Suns JavaOne show here.
He said a lot of things that have occurred up to now in the JCP have “happened behind the scenes” and that the organization had developed “a number of confidentiality habits” to protect member interests. That he said came “at the outcome of being opaque” to outsiders.
Yet, some insiders take issue with parts of the process.
Jon Dart, senior architect at JCP member TIBCO Software Inc., Palo Alto, Calif., said at todays Borland event, “Generally, we havent been unhappy with how Sun has managed its stewardship of Java” overall. Yet, said Dart, “we now see some fragmentation as the J2EE [Java 2 Enterprise Edition] architecture gets bigger and [the process gets] slower.”
Damon Rolfs, senior solutions architect at Accenture Ltd., NY, who also attended the Borland event, said he believes “frequency of iteration” to be an issue for the JCP. “I see a lot of competing standards in the open-source community,” he said.
Dart, too, noted “theres more than one standard” in some spaces. In particular Java business process integration, he said. “And thats troublesome,” he added.
Bola Rotibi, senior analyst of software development and application server technologies at Ovum Research, London, said “theres a lot of breakaway on the mobile side,” with Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME), “and it causes people to look elsewhere.”
Some observers have gone so far as to suggest Sun cede control of the JCP over to a neutral party or an established standards organization.
“That is not part of my vision and not really part of the vision of the Java community,” said Gingell.
Anil Gadre, a Sun vice president in the software division, said he believes no other organization is as open or has the “integrity” the JCP has.
The JCP consists of 650 companies and individuals that vote on changes and revisions to the Java platform.
Sun is expected to hold a JCP progress event late Thursday pacific time.