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Ian is the Director of Marketing for the Eclipse Foundation and live in Ottawa, Canada. Ian is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 170 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Dear Oracle, Get a Clue

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Dear Oracle,

I hate to tell you but you need some help with the  Java community.  The basic problem is that people don’t trust you and you aren’t very good at community building; in fact you are pretty bad at community marketing.

I really really want you to succeed  and community marketing is not that hard.  The first step is to read this really cool book called ‘The Cluetrain Manifesto’.  The basic premise of the book is that communities are really conversations and to succeed you need to be part of and interact with the community.  I know this can be a challenge with all your lawyers and marketing executives trying to ‘control’ the message but you have to do it to gain the trust of the community.  Companies like IBM and SAP manage to do it so you can too.

Right now lots of people are talking about Java but there is a silent void from you.  The conversation is happening and you aren’t participating, so people speculate and hypothesize; not great for building trust.  Let me give you two examples:

1. The JCP Elections started this week.  One of the companies up for a ratified seat is a company very few people have heard about, Hologic.  Seems like a very respectable company but not exactly a mover and shaker in the Java community.  Stephen Colebourne did some research and thinks you guys are trying to rig the JCP Election, speculating Hologic is there to stack the JCP.  So far no one from Oracle has responded.  I am sure you have  a very logical reason for nominating Hologic. Don’t you think it is reasonable to tell the Java community these reasons?  Instead other people are questioning if Stephen’s accusation is true; key influencers like Matt Asay and JaxCenter and btw it looks like Paul Krill, a reporter for InfoWorld is on the story so this will get into the mainstream tech press.  This just isn’t building trust between you and the Java community.

2. I trust you heard the news yesterday that Apple has decided to deprecate Java on the Mac and ban Java applications from the new Mac App Store.    In case you didn’t notice this is a big thing for Java developers.   Lots of them really like Macs.  I don’t expect you to respond right away but James Gosling and  Steve Jobs is already responding.  I fear given your past history of not participating in the conversation there will be a very long silence before any response comes.  In fact this is an opportunity to make the OpenJDK shine.  Get the community to start building and packaging a Mac JVM, embrace the effort and make it part of the standard platforms.  Embrace the community, make open source work for your advantage!

While I am it, I gotta ask if you are talking to the industry analysts about your Java plans?  Analysts like Jeffrey Hammond and John Rymer from Forrester are talking to your customers right now about the future of Java.    Your customers are nervous and are looking for direction.   You need to make sure people like Jeffrey and John know your plans, maybe even ask them their advice?  Other analysts like James Governor from Redmonk aren’t that positive about where you are going with Java.  You have to start participating in these conversations.

The great thing about the individuals in the Java community is they are passionate about Java and really want to help you succeed.  However, you are making it really hard to keep the passion.  Loosen up, talk to people, listen to people, most of us don’t bite but you really need to get a clue.

Best Regards,

Concerned Java Community Member

Published at DZone with permission of Ian Skerrett, author and DZone MVB. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)


Christopher Brind replied on Fri, 2010/10/22 - 12:04pm

Well said, Ian.

Jason Kilgrow replied on Fri, 2010/10/22 - 12:28pm

Well.....here's hoping. :)

Jonathan Fisher replied on Fri, 2010/10/22 - 12:29pm

Sarcastic title, but professionally put. Well done. Larry Ellison, please listen... We're trying to help. Addressing the conversation will only grow the ecosystem and power of Oracle products. Silence is killing your customer base.

Ian Skerrett replied on Fri, 2010/10/22 - 2:52pm in response to: Jonathan Fisher

FWIW, the title is a phrase from the book Cluetrain Manifesto.

Jean-Francois P... replied on Fri, 2010/10/22 - 8:14pm

Thanks for telling alout what most in the Java community think, Ian.

It seems there are problems with some links in your post (4 links point back directly to your post), though, could you please fix them?

Slim Ouertani replied on Sat, 2010/10/23 - 7:33am

thanks for this letter

Jens Schauder replied on Sat, 2010/10/23 - 8:04am


Andries Spies replied on Sat, 2010/10/23 - 8:53am

Great post! But does Oracle really care? Maybe the Java community would have been better of with IBM, or even Google.

Bob Smith replied on Sat, 2010/10/23 - 9:18am

What's the problem?

Oracle offered a clear roadmap for Java 7 and Java 8, as well as Java FX 2.0, much clearer than Sun did in their dying days.  They also offered a clear vision of making the JCP work (ok, a little heav-handed) by getting IBM on board.  This is much better than Sun's implied plan to ignore the JCP in their dying days.

So they're not as pro-open source as Sun is.   Oracle is a business and their first objective is to make money, which they're much better at doing than Sun was.

Granted, their silence on the Apple Java issue is a little disconcerting, and it's even money that they were the ones that dropped the ball as opposed to Apple.

Still, Oracle strikes me as a cautious company that reflects carefully on their moves and doesn't jump the gun on announcements (ex:  Sun announcing JavaFX well before it was ready).   

I'd much rather have a company that is cautious and reflects carefully and silently before making its commitments than a company that was jumping all over the place and seemingly changing its corporate strategy every week.

Colin Fletcher replied on Sat, 2010/10/23 - 9:21am

Having previously worked at Oracle I can say that the communication channel is directed from the top down, much like the 70's and 80's types of organization, including career paths post merger.  I found decisions were made by managers and told to their direct reports.  I am not surprised at the speculation of Hologic. 

Smeltet Kerne replied on Sat, 2010/10/23 - 10:34am

I don't think Oracle gets this hippie mentality - "community" - hah! :) Oracle is about serious business - how would you send an invoice to a community anyway??

Smeltet Kerne replied on Sat, 2010/10/23 - 11:01am in response to: Bob Smith

//I'd much rather have a company that is cautious and reflects carefully //and

It can't be Oracle you are thinking about here. I find Oracles way of communicating often very confusing - for example I was once part of a team that won a project to build a portal for a customer based on Oracle Portal somewhere around 9g as far as I remember. So I read Oracle 9g manual on how to build standard JSR portlets for Oracle Portal. Then I get hands on with the server but can't find the darn support for standard JSR portlets. A few months after the 9g release an engineer from Oracle blogs "ohh and by the way we didn't quite finish the JSR portlets as stated elsewhere.." - then why the **** did you release the 9g manual for JSR portlets and not provide a warning that this was just wishfull thinking??

And how can it ever be in a developers interest not to have transparency? I have quite often had the misfortune with companies such as Microsoft and Oracle who have very little transparancy to adopt version 1.0 of some framework and finding it very buggy and feature lacking - but this will probably be fixed in 1.1 right? well a year later they release 1.1 but it turns out the huge team that did release 1.0 has been shifted off to some other product and the 2 developers left on the framework did't manage to do anything usefull with 1.1. Because I didn't have transparency I told the customer to stay put and wait for 1.1 - all would be rosy red.. hah. With Sun being transparant about putting most of their resources in JavaFX at least I know not to expect other APIs to make huge strides..


Manjuka Soysa replied on Sun, 2010/10/24 - 7:50pm in response to: Smeltet Kerne

I agree with you, as far as product documentation concerned Oracle does a terrible job of releasing the correct documents with correct product versions. But that's more to do with applications, and less to do with the Java platform.

On the other hand, Oracle is much better at marketing and figuring out what customers want. So I am optimistic about them setting the future direction of Java for the benefit of their customers - ie. paying customers. I don't think they are much concerned about community spirit!

Martin Wildam replied on Mon, 2010/10/25 - 9:54am

Although I basically agree with Bob I also think they could do better. However, give them also a bit of time to react. The first belly action is not always the best.

Gar Labs replied on Tue, 2011/08/23 - 10:28am

Everybody including me in the Java Community feels the same way. -GAR Labs

Liezel Jane Jandayan replied on Thu, 2011/08/25 - 5:47am

The JCP is the mechanism for developing standard technical specifications for Java technology. Anyone can register for the site and participate in reviewing and providing feedback for the Java Specification Requests (JSRs), and anyone can sign up to become a JCP Member and then participate on the Expert Group of a JSR or even submit their own JSR Proposals.-Jonathan Berkowitz

Carla Brian replied on Sun, 2012/05/06 - 11:10am

Good thing I saw your post. If not I would not know about the problems of Oracle. Thanks for sharing this one. - Paul Perito

James Walker replied on Wed, 2012/06/20 - 7:22am

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James Walker replied on Thu, 2012/11/15 - 9:16am

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