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Java Board Streamlines its Approval Process

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The board that oversees the development of the Java computing language Thursday said it has radically altered the way the Java code will evolve.

Members of the Java Community Process (JCP) Program Management Office and Executive Committees introduced a draft of Java Community Process – version 2.6 as the definitive how-to manual for its submission and approval process. The group’s purpose is to develop and revise Java technology specifications, reference implementations, and technology compatibility kits.

While it is an open organization, the JCP has been criticized in the past of making the approval process too complicated and very confusing. There are more than 650 company and individual participants that make up the JCP and upwards of 190 specifications are in development out of which 46 percent are in final stages. Even the JCP itself has been altered for the second time in eight months shuttering quickly through the JCP version 2.5.

Basing it on the Java Specification Request (JSR) 215, the group said the new changes will make the overall process “more transparent and efficient, enable more effective interactions with external groups and help improve the completion rate of requests.”

For example, in order to promote more feedback at the review periods, version 2.6 changes the Community Review to an Early Draft Review and makes it open to the public. Also, the Community Review Ballot has been removed and replaced with a ballot after the second public review, called Public Review Ballot.

As part of its minimum requirements for Technology Compatibility Kits (TCK), JSR reps will consider moving the disclosure of TCK and other business terms to a point earlier in the process.

Other recommended changes includes Java officials proposing a new class of membership — “Expert Group Observer” — to enable a wider Java developer audience to contribute feedback to specifications development. If approved, the specification will open the Community Review Draft to the public and facilitate input from developers earlier in the process.

“The direction in which JSR 215 proposes to take the JCP emerges from the feedback of specification leads, experts and EC members as well as the practical experience of the Program Office from its day-to-day management of the process,” JCP PMO director Onno Kluyt said in a statement. “We are pleased to see this level of interest in JSR 215 — an important initiative aimed at increasing the transparency and the efficiency of the JCP while maintaining the focus of the community on the establishment of the Java technology binary software standard.”

None of the changes require modification to the participation agreements (the JSPA or IEPA). This new procedures also ignore any issues that are difficult to implement or that require changes to the JSPA.

The JSR 215 was one of JCP’s largest expert groups with 28 participants including Apache Software Foundation, Apple Computer, BEA Systems, Borland Software Corporation, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, IONA Technologies, Insignia Solutions, Doug Lea, professor of computer science at the State University of New York at Oswego, Macromedia, Matsushita Electric Industrial, Motorola, Nokia Corporation, Nokia Networks, Oracle, PalmSource, Philips, Research In Motion (RIM), SAP, Siemens, SONY International (Europe) GmbH, Sony Ericsson Mobile, Sun Microsystems, Symbian, Texas Instruments, The SCO Group.

From here, the proposed specification draft will be reviewed and approved by the EC through the standard JCP JSRs review process. The delivery of the final draft by the Expert Group is planned for November 2003.

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