The much criticised JCP (Java Community Process), which maps out procedures for amending officially sanctioned Java technologies, is set for a facelift that includes greater transparency and the possible loss of voting privileges for JCP members who disregard their responsibilities.
New procedures are part of the recently introduced Java Specification Request 348. "This JCR, nicknamed JCP.next, proposes a variety of changes to do with transparency, participation, agility and governance," JCP said. The document states that JCP Chair Patrick Curran views full transparency of a JCP expert group operations as the most important change introduced by JSR 348.
"Many expert groups carry out their business openly over public mailing lists and publicly viewable issue trackers, and they make public responses to all comments. JCP.next will elevate those recommended practices to mandatory status. The process of recruiting Expert Group members will also be documented for the public eye, ensuring that all applications are considered in a fair way," JCP said.
To promote the goal of smooth operations for the JCP community, executive committee members will be expected to vote on JSRs and attend meetings. "JCP.next specifies that those who fail to carry out these duties will be subject to 'penalties,' such as the loss of voting privileges." JCP.next formalises the process of replacing specification leads or expert group members who are unwilling to perform duties responsibly.
Also on the agenda are plans to merge the Standard Edition/Enterprise Edition and Micro Edition executive committees. "The day has come for the divided path to join in one highway," JCP said. JCP.next also will require that changes to original Java licensing terms be tracked over time.
"We've been discussing the need for organisational and process reform for several years now," Curran said on the JCP site. "We took some small but important steps in 2009 with a maintenance release of JSR 215, but after the approval late last year of the JSRs for Java SE 7 and SE 8, it was clear that the time had come for more substantive changes."
The JCP for years has been the target of criticism over a supposed lack of transparency and too much control by the vendor in charge of Java stewardship. First, that vendor was Sun Microsystems. Now, that vendor is Oracle, which acquired Sun in late 2010.
Additionally, there has been an ongoing dispute with the Apache Software Foundation over licensing terms for the Apache Harmony version of Java, with Apache opposing field of use restrictions pertaining to mobile devices. Apache officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on JCP.next.
Early draft review for JSR 348, which is officially entitled "Toward a new version of the Java Community Process," is planned for early this summer.