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27 October 2010, 09:55

Oracle draws criticism for policy towards JCP

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Java Logo Oracle's approach to the Java Community Process (JCP), the organisation responsible for Java standardisation, has been criticised by developers. Their disquiet has been prompted by elections for the JCP executive committee (EC) currently taking place. JCP members have until the 1st of November to vote on the composition of the EC, which changes annually. Stephen Colebourne, a member of the JCP and Apache, has, for example, critised Oracle for proposing Hologic as a committee member. Colebourne is of the opinion that a raft of past joint Oracle / Hologic press releases suggest that Hologic would not be a particularly independent voice on the committee. He also doubts Hologic's ability to represent the 'C' in JCP. The company develops technologies for the healthcare industry.

Colebourne is also questioning the candidature of former Yahoo CTO Sam Pullara on the basis of close links to Oracle Vice President Adam Messinger. Although Pullara admits that he is close to Messinger, he is adamant that this does not mean that, if elected to the JCP, he would push Oracle's agenda. Current executive committee member Doug Lea has expressed disappointment at the direction taken by the JCP. Lea, a professor at the State University of New York, believes that it no longer has credibility as a specification and standardisation body. In a letter to EC members, Lea states that there is no longer a useful role for an independent representative of the academic and research community on the committee.

Lea believes that while Sun used to see the JCP as a regulatory body for driving forward innovation, since Oracle took over from Sun it has become an "approval body for Oracle-backed initiatives". He is also sceptical as to whether Oracle will ever provide the test compatibility kits for Java implementation Apache Harmony that the Apache project needs in order to be fully compatible with Oracle's Java.

Lea has consequently decided to step down from the Executive Committee and instead support the efforts of the OpenJDK community. Oracle has released a statement expressing its regret at Lea's resignation. Some cheer should be derived from the company's plans to run Java Standard Edition versions 7 and 8 past the JCP – though many feel that this is long overdue.

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