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Non-restrictive Access

HO: My interest in it is whether or not the JCP is looking at establishing a baseline for non-restrictive access?

PC: It's certainly true to say there is a strong sentiment within the executive committee that there should be no restrictions on the implement-ability of specifications. And we are in the process of having some serious discussions about a whole variety of reforms, and this is one of them. I obviously very strongly hope that we can reach a resolution on this. I know Sun has been negotiating with Apache and has made some offer on compromise licenses, I can't go into the details of what they are, but so far they've been unable to reach agreement, which is most unfortunate.

HO: Stepping back a little bit, one thing I've noted that where Apache used to be the major repository of Java projects, they have competition now appearing from Eclipse. Do you think there should be more meta-projects like this?

PC: I think in general more is better. If Apache had not come along and done what they have done, I'll be honest, the JCP would be stodgier and less open and less transparent that it is, and that's a good thing. Having Eclipse doing similar things certainly can't hurt. Eclipse are also on the executive committee now. I think that's a nice counterweight to the big corporate players. In the early days it was all big corporations, you could call it a club. IBM, Oracle, Sun, BEA, Siemens, Nokia, Motorola, all the big players. And that's OK, if they weren't involved that would be a problem as they are the primary implementers, but they are just one factor in the whole ecosystem, so bringing in the open source projects, Apache, Eclipse, SpringSource and Red Hat, is a nice counter balance. Then the other aspect of it, which is something else we are trying to push at the moment is the independent developer voice, which is not quite so well represented. We do have a few, individual members; Doug Lea of course and recently Sean Sheedy was elected on the J2ME side who's a strong voice for ME developers and a different perspective from the operators.

We don't charge very much in the way of fees; non-profits was only $2,000 a year, but Java user groups told us "we can't afford that", for them $100 is a big thing.

HO: That's catering for a year.

PC: Exactly, you can buy a lot of pizza for $2,000, and that's where they like to spend their money and I don't blame them. So we said OK, we'll waive the fees for Java user groups. We did that starting in December [2008], at our tenth birthday party at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, which was a really nice event. Since then we've had at least a dozen user groups join. So it's going to be interesting to see what effect that will have. It's a way to bring in a large number of developers to give them some way of participating.

HO: And a way to get the guys who work at the coal face, so to speak, involved.

PC: Indeed. It's too soon to say what the effect is going to be, but I'm hoping. We've got to do more than nominally have them as members so we are trying to figure out ways of how we can participate with them, hold meetings with them, and actually bring them in. But if we can make them a real voice for the developers, that would be a healthy thing for the organisation. ... We've had two user groups as members for some time, BeJUG, the Belgium user group and Sou Java, the guys down in Brazil who are the biggest in the world with 20,000 members.

I was out in Asia in December, and I went to Korea, China and Japan, talking to people there and people were asking "How can we get involved, it's not easy for us to get involved as we don't speak English so well", so there's the time difference and the language barrier. So I thought one way would be if we could bring a user group in and then there would be the possibility of holding meetings and events in their own language, in their own time zone and doing some outreach that way. In terms of trying to balance the organisation, when we went out to Asia I took a look at the membership and those three countries, are relatively under represented in terms of percentages of the membership, when you think about how important they are in the technology space. So I'm trying to do a little outreach and bring those guys in.

Next: An Open Process

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