Updated Java approval process planned

Several major backers of Java have proposed changes to the Java Community Process (JCP), the Java standards body, in a move designed to speed the development of Java standards and increase the transparency of the process.

The proposal calls for opening up future Java standards to public scrutiny earlier in the development process, and pushing back a vote on proposed standards until after a second review period, Onno Kluyt, director of the JCP Program Management Office at Sun Microsystems Inc., said Thursday.

A Java Specification Request (JSR) goes through several review phases and has to be approved by the JCP executive committee at various stages in the process. Currently, the first review is carried out by JCP members and is followed by a vote by the executive committee.

Under the proposed new system the first review will be open to the public, and the vote will be pushed back until after a second review period, which is also open to the public. This second review period already exists in the current Java approval process.

“By moving the vote we create a review phase that is safe,” Kluyt said. Those proposing new standards, typically software companies with an interest in Java, can put something up for review without running the risk of getting it voted down by the executive committee straight after the initial review, he said.

Under the current system it takes about a year-and-a-half, on average, for a proposal to go through the standards setting process, Kluyt said. The changes to the JCP should reduce this time, but it is unclear by how much.

The proposal for changes in the JCP, known as JSR 215, was approved by the JCP executive committee last week. The final draft of JSR 215 is planned to be ready in November, which means the changes could take effect late this year or early next year, Kluyt said.

JSR 215 is backed by JCP members including Oracle Corp., IBM Corp., BEA Systems Inc., IONA Technologies PLC, Symbian Ltd., Nokia Corp., Borland Software Corp. and Sun.

The standards process is used to evolve existing Java specifications and to create new ones, to improve its security, for example, or to add support for new XML standards.

Sun, which created Java, founded and oversees the JCP, but to a large extent Sun is just a member, Kluyt said. It has one vote on the executive committee, where other JCP member organizations are also represented. There are two executive committees, one for J2ME (Java 2 Platform Micro Edition), used in the embedded and consumer spaces, and one for J2EE (Java 2 Platform Enterprise Edition) and J2SE (Java 2 Platform Standard Edition), used for servers and desktops, respectively.