To: JCP Executive Committee Members
From: Doug Lea
Date: 22 October 2010

Dear Colleagues,

Here is the promised explanation for why I am not seeking another term
on the JCP Executive Committee: I believe that the JCP is no longer a
credible specification and standards body, and there is no remaining
useful role for an independent advocate for the academic and research
community on the EC.

Some have argued that JCP was never a credible standards body.  I once
disagreed: Sun initially placed in the JSPA and Process documents
enough rules to ensure that the JCP could foster innovation, quality,
and diversity, independent of that from Sun, with few enough (albeit
annoying) exceptions to allow JCP to drive consensual progress more
successfully than seen in most standards bodies.  However, some of
these rules, and violations of rules, have been found to be the source
of stalemates and lost technical ground. Rather than fixing rules or
ceasing violations, Oracle now promises to simply disregard them.  If
they indeed act as they have promised, then the JCP can never again
become more than an approval body for Oracle-backed initiatives.
(Oracle's choice of timing submission of SE release JSRs forced me to
decide not to stand for another term based only on those promises, not
on the actual actions.)  I urge other EC members to consider whether
short term "pragmatism" in voting outweighs such consequences.

So, what are the alternatives?

For the core Java platform (which these days roughly corresponds to
Java SE), the only existing vehicle for which I can foresee a useful
role for the academic and research community is OpenJDK.  OpenJDK is a
shared-source, not shared-spec body, so is superficially not an
alternative at all. But at this point, a Linux-style model for
collaboratively developed common source is likely to be more effective
in meeting upcoming challenges than is the JCP.  (In which case, of
course, the main role of JCP is only to approve specs for various
freeze-points that represent releases.) For this reason, I've
volunteered to continue and increase involvement to better establish
the reincarnated OpenJDK as such a body.

For other efforts, I cannot recommend to anyone that they use the JCP
JSR process, as opposed to some other group/organization/body, to gain
consensus for proposed specifications. So I expect to see fewer
submissions as people begin to realize that other venues provide
better opportunities. I suppose there is some possibility that I
will help improve support for such standards elsewhere, but I don't
have any immediate plans.

I could of course be wrong about all this, and hope that other EC
members try hard to prove me wrong.

I am sending this to the EC, to make sure you all hear this
from me directly first. But feel free to distribute. For simplicity,
I placed a copy at


Doug Lea
Last modified: Fri Oct 22 13:58:23 EDT 2010