OSGi Alliance Opens Kimono, Increases Developer Input on Specs

The OSGi Alliance announced a new specification development process that increases transparency and openness with the developer community.

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The OSGi Alliance, formerly known as the Open Services Gateway initiative (OSGi), has approved a more transparent specification development process, allowing the public to comment immediately on requests for comments (RFCs) as well as requests for proposals (RFPs) for OSGi specifications.

With this move, the OSGi Alliance joins other prominent developer technology organizations including the Apache Foundation, the Eclipse Foundation and the Java Community Process (JCP) in opening its kimono to expose a more transparent specification process.

The shift from periodic early draft review to real-time public comment is expected to further increase OSGi adoption and enhance the standardization process.

The new specification development process provides the public with greater insight into OSGi specification activities and allows the alliance to consider or include comments from developers within specific verticals and communities during the specification development. However, actual technical design, including authoring, editing and approving specifications, continues to be done by OSGi Alliance members.

"Increasing transparency in the specification development process will enrich OSGi specifications by directly including interests within and outside of the alliance," said Dan Bandera, OSGi Alliance president, in a statement. "Our expert groups can review, discuss and incorporate non-member comments during technical design work. We anticipate a ripple effect in OSGi adoption as more third-party standards organizations reference OSGi specifications in their implementations and the alliance may include more IP-based comments in its final specifications. It eases alliance development cooperation with other standards organizations while retaining the decision-making rights of alliance membership."

"The days of closed-door standards development are over," Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation, told eWEEK. "This move by the OSGi Alliance is a welcome step, especially if it succeeds in getting more developers actively engaged in the specification process."

Expanding developer involvement is key to the specification process and has helped Eclipse to attract new supporters and grow its ecosystem, Milinkovich said.

The Alliance's repository of active RFCs and RFPs is now mirrored continuously to a world-readable repository at https://github.com/osgi/design, and non-member feedback can be submitted through the public bugzilla system at https://www.osgi.org/bugzilla.

The OSGi framework is a module system and service platform for Java programming language that implements a dynamic component model, which does not exist in standalone Java environments. Applications or components can be remotely installed, started, stopped, updated and uninstalled without requiring a reboot.

OSGi reduces complexity by providing a modular architecture for today's large-scale distributed systems as well as small, embedded applications. Building systems from in-house and off-the-shelf modules significantly reduces complexity and thus development and maintenance expenses. The OSGi programming model realizes the promise of component-based systems.

Indeed, the primary reason OSGi technology is so successful is that it provides a mature component system that works in a large number of environments. The OSGi component system is used to build complex applications like integrated development environments (Eclipse), application servers (GlassFish, IBM Websphere, Oracle/BEA Weblogic, Jonas, JBoss), application frameworks (Spring, Guice), industrial automation, residential gateways, phones and more.

The OSGi Alliance was founded in 1999 by Ericsson, IBM, Motorola, Sun Microsystems and others in 1999. In 2003, Eclipse chose OSGi as the underlying runtime for the plug-in architecture used for the Eclipse Rich Client Platform and the IDE platform. Eclipse itself includes sophisticated tooling for developing OSGi bundles, and there are several other Eclipse plug-ins aimed at supporting OSGi. Eclipse Equinox is an implementation of the OSGi R4 core framework specification, a set of bundles that implement various optional OSGi services and other infrastructure for running OSGi-based systems.