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The JCP: Dead, Alive, or Zombified?

12.10.2010
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I'm sure you've read the news about Apache leaving the JCP, effective immediately.  Well DZone has been checking the temperature of the Java community ever since yesterday's announcement and we're finding a lot of heat out there—in blogs, comments, and tweets.  Oracle responded earlier today with a short note asking Apache to come back, but I'm sure this falls on deaf ears.

On this page we'll be compiling a list of blog quotes, quotes from the comments on the Apache announcement and various other blogs, and a bunch of tweets.  While these opinions may not be the majority (there's always a silent one), it's good to see what feelings are flowing out of various corners in the Java community.  Be sure and post anything you find!

The Community speaks out:

Like you I'm saddly following the latest news : "ASF leaves the JCP", "JCP is dead", "Oracle is evil", "Lord Voldemort is the right arm of Larry" (this one I made it up myself).... and wondering "what can I do ?"…  Why not writing an open letter to Oracle in the name of the JUGs?  Why not gather our strength and say to Oracle we think we have [had] enough

Antonio Goncalves, from JUGs Mailing List

"To all those saying that the ASF 'lost' in a standoff with Oracle regarding Java: standing up for your principles is never losing."

—Jim Jagielski, Twitter (sorry, I can't get these twitter links to work for the life of me.  Just search the person's name on twitter and you'll find the proof in the pudding)

"And so, the JCP is dead... All that remains is a zombie, walking the streets of the Java ecosystem, looking for brains..."

—Jim Jagielski, The JCP is Dead

Oracle holds all the cards and can gain the system to do whatever it wants, even ignoring contractual agreements. Other EC members can fight, but they will only be allowed what Oracle lets them do. And they will have to simply sit down and take it.

—Jim Jagielski, The Trouble with the JCP EC

"Good, the JCP was an awful idea from its inception, the idea that open source has to be governed by an external 'expert committee' often sworn to secrecy ran counter to the idea of a transparent Meritocracy from the beginning. It is about time."

—Tim O'Brien, ASF Announcement Comment

"The JCP is dead, will Java continue as a proprietary technology or will the community step up?"

—Ross Gardler, Apache Member, The JCP is Dead to me, Long Live Java

"@scroisier Yes, #jcpisdead might help people realize you don’t need a big org to create standards, Apache governance would do fine."

—Bertrand Delacretaz, Committer on a number of Apache projects, Twitter

"JCP may by dead, but Java is not! We make our own standards in Open Source! Spring, Lucene/Solr, Hadoop, etc. "

—Yonik Seeley, Creator of Apache Solr, Twitter

Oracle originally objected to the fields of use restrictions before they bought Java but changed their mind now they're the owner and I guess IBM was bought off. It is surprising how Oracle seems to be aiming straight at their foot, do they regard the open source community as a minor aspect of Java? Is this (long gone after Android & iPhone) mobile market worth the cost of alienating their most fervent supporters?

… What is needed, and what was clearly promised by Sun all those years ago, is an independent organization where industry and open source community can meet and standardize without any one party being special. The OSGi is such an organization. An organization that has a lot of experience with Java specifications as well.

Peter Kriens, OSGi Alliance

Java became strong not as a barbershop quartet singing in perfect harmony, but as a massive, heaving soccer crowd baying for their team. The neutering of the JCP threatens to turn that crowd into a bunch of North Korean rent-a-fans.  There will inevitably be a loss of diversity of brain-power feeding into the Java specification.

… why on Earth should Bob [Lee] spend his valuable time working on a JSR when the fruits of his labour would be taken by Oracle? … Other resignations include Tim Peierls and of course Apache. Google will probably follow shortly. They have all realised that they were giving their work and IP to improve a proprietary Oracle product.. for nothing. … The result will be a dreadful monoculture.  

… JCP now stands for “Just Customers Please” … What’s a poor Java developer to do? I’m not certainly giving up the platform just yet because there still aren’t any better games in town. All the same, it seems wiser than ever to transfer at least a few eggs to alternative baskets. Just in case.


—Neil Bartlett, OSGi and Eclipse expert, Haskell enthusiast, The JCP… Weep for the Experts

Standards organizations come and go.  Whether this particular one limps along for two more years or twenty isn’t the key point.  Instead of being an exemplar, the JCP is destined to become the canonical antithesis of what a standards organization should be.  As standards organizations are created over the upcoming decades, people will be asking themselves how they can avoid becoming another JCP, i.e., merely a purchasable asset reported on quarterly in P&L statements.

—Sam Ruby, Pyrrhic Victory

So, is the JCP dead? Well, it will probably limp on for a while. And if the second view of what it is takes hold, then it may have some future as far as big corporates are concerned.

But it cannot now be seen as an Open Standards Body.

So its both dead and undead. A zombie.  Its the end of an era. An era of hope that the JCP would be Java's ISO, producing truly Open Standards.  So as that era closes we look forward to the new closed era of Java. Where its Oracle's way or the highway.

—Stephen Colebourne, Is the JCP Dead?

Another really good post that came out today was by Niclas Hedhman, which explained what the Apache resignation means for Apache projects.  Here was his final statement:

The departure of Apache from the JSR scene will mean that Oracle has 2 choices, either provide good implementations of these specifications under open source licenses, or only provide paid-for ones and see the JCP die as a result, as no one will care to pay for everything that Oracle dreams up. After observing Oracle‘s action this year, I think the latter is the more likely choice.

So I predict; The number of JSR submissions will increase dramatically during 2011, mainly from Oracle, and as the implementations start showing up on the horizon, being paid-for versions out of Oracle‘s Product Machinery, people will start to loose all interest, and rely on Apache, Spring and Eclipse for their daily Java fix. If that happens, the main losers in the open source world will be those that rely heavily on “being spec compliant“ instead of “great choice by developer”, so Spring will gain, JBoss/Geronimo will loose, NoSQL movement will gain, EJB/JPA will loose some and you/me will loose as our choices will become more complicated.

And the “Anti-Community Award of the Year, 2010” goes toooooooo…. not unexpected, ORACLE

—Niclas Hedhman, Apache Leaves JCP EC

l had some trouble finding any blogs, comments, or tweets that were optimistic, but I really do want to hear if there's another relatively vendor-independent camp out there that doesn't see the Apache resignation as a problem.  I'll be posting more tweets and blog quotes as I find them.

Comments

Armin Ehrenreich replied on Fri, 2010/12/10 - 3:41pm

I think Oracle simply wants to have one implementation: OpenJDK. Not more not less.

No test kit would ever achieve compatibility, only a single implementation can. Beside these quality concerns for sure Oracle wants to protect its investment in buying Java. A second implementation means the danger of slowly forking, as Googles Android demonstrates.

Do not see it so negative. Oracle hires people for working on Java. Remember Sun, when everything was falling apart?

I would wish that Apache (and Google) could overcome their wounded pride and join OpenJDK. We would miss them otherwise. They are important members of the JCP.

Nevertheless Oracle should work intensely on their community communication.

Felipe Talvik replied on Fri, 2010/12/10 - 8:26pm in response to: Armin Ehrenreich

"No test kit would ever achieve compatibility, only a single implementation can."

So we should throw away Hibernate, EclipseLink, OpenJPA, JBoss, Tomcat, Websphere, HornetQ... after all they're just different implementations.

Put your money, where your mouth is, and use only Oracle's implementations. Think before you talk!

 "Apache (and Google) could overcome their wounded pride... They are important members of the JCP."

Wounded pride? ! ...so they can stay there and nod their heads to everything Oracle says?

John J. Franey replied on Fri, 2010/12/10 - 11:10pm

David Pollak, author of Lift, has this to say in a thread exploring what Apache's move would have on Scala on Scala community's mailing list:
Oracle is likely to be looking to end the JCP, but in recent years, the JCP has been a failure. It's the same group of people making the same bad decisions (see JSR-299 http://jcp.org/en/jsr/detail?id=299 which is the same failed patterns that we saw with CORBA and Enterprise Java Beans). Allowing the JCP to self-destruct isn't a bad thing.

....

The ASF was only a member of the JCP for 8 years, and for the 4 years prior to that (the JCP was formed in 1998 and the ASF joined in 2002), the ASF did much of its best work on Java libraries.

....

Martin [Odersky, designer of Scala and Java Generics] has never had to be part of JCP committees to do some of the key innovations in the Java language and other JVM languages. That's not going to change.

Armin Ehrenreich replied on Sat, 2010/12/11 - 6:06am in response to: Felipe Talvik

I try most often to think before I talk, but may I suggest you to learn to tolerate other opinions.

You can not compare eg. the servlet Spec with the whole JDK spec. It is much much harder to be API compatible with Swing and the like. (By the way, did you ever try to run a complex application on a different app server?). Just see how hard it is (was) for the Apple Java implementation to be compatible. And they had only little proprietary code in their JDK. By far most code is (was) Oracles code. Impossible to come even near compatibility with a independent implementation for such a complex platform like Java. Ever tried to run applications on Harmony? You should before offending people because of ideology. Two implementations would mean to split the Java world in two camps. One that runs their apps on OpenJDK and one that runs them on Harmony. And with the next pretext (eg. dont't agree on a language extension) they would start to become formally incompatible. Because it is no Java anymore, one camp takes with it their developers and call it eg. Andro...

Cloves Almeida replied on Sat, 2010/12/11 - 10:24am

Maybe Oracle should just dismiss the JCP and become a sort of "Benevolent Dictator For Life", much like Pyhton's Guido. I'm not for single implementation of specs, but I much rather have a few smart guys making the technical decisions then the dreaded design by comitee. The comitee gave us EJB1/2. Gavin's leadership through Hibernate gave us JPA. For a long time, Linus was the only one making decisions on what goes and what does not into the main kernel.

Wojciech Kudla replied on Mon, 2010/12/13 - 4:01am in response to: Armin Ehrenreich

Armin, I had a number of opportunities to migrate very complex applications from one appserver to other. We've only had small problems connected to parts of JEE standards stack that leave some details to the implementation. That is the reason for JEE server certification and the TCK. You can't blame Apple's Java compatibility problems on the fact that Java is complex, mentioning that Apple's impl had some proprietary code in the very next sentence. The problem with Harmony is that it never got a chance to become a certified Java implementation, because of Sun's and now Oracle's approach towards satisfying crucial agreeements. Some time ago Oracle opted for Sun to open the TCK or at least make it legaly possible to pass the Java implementation certification without Sun's special permissions. Now they do exactly the same narrowing the standard to the implementations of their choice. Is this what you call a standard? A set of specs that may only be recognised as implemented properly and thus certified by one and only vendor which is Oracle?

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