Interview: Patrick Curran, chair of the JCP
Interview and transcription by Dj Walker-Morgan
The H went to Qcon and sat down with Patrick Curran, chair of the Java Community Process for a chat about how the JCP is changing and looking for more transparency in all aspects of its work.
The H Open: Another busy year for the JCP?
Patrick Curran: Yes, our focus is at the moment on increasing transparency. In the past people have sometimes criticised us for being a little, I don't want to use the word secretive but, yes, a little bit secretive. So you probably hear people say so-and-so expert group is a bunch of guys who get together in a back room, you don't really know what they are up to, six months or nine months later, out pops a draft of a specification. You are obliged to, through the process, to publish the spec for review but if people have no insight into how it got from the beginning to that point it's often difficult to come up with meaningful comments to effect meaningful change.
It's almost baked at that point... We're now slowly encouraging people; we have a transparency requirement in the process document, so expert groups were always supposed to reach out to people, but we're on a big kick now. We did a survey late last year just to see what kind of practices and processes people were using and we came up with a shopping list of the obvious things. Many of them have public mailing lists now, rather than private ones, and are blogging and speaking at conferences. Public issue tracking, a lot of them are doing that. Several are actually running the entire working/expert group as an open source project, completely open. One, for example, Stephen Colebourne, who was on a panel with me yesterday, who's doing the Date and time (JSR-310) that's basically open.
HO: That's what was Joda time yes?
PC: Started up as Joda time, yes, going through the process.
HO: Please get it in for Java 7.
PC: I hope they can. But anyway, thats been done as an open source project.
HO: But from the outside that seemed a bit rocky; it went into the JSR process and there appeared to be silence, and now work is happening again but...
PC: Yes, I don't know exactly what that was. It may just be that Stephen is doing it, I don't want to say single handedly, but he's doing much of the work and he's doing it in his spare time, and he doesn't have a lot of spare time. He was just telling me yesterday he recently started keeping a log of how much time he puts in on on it and sometimes it's twenty hours a week and on top of the day job. That's a lot of effort. So he's finding it difficult, it's not easy for an individual to take part like in an effort like that.