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Q&A with JSR 215 Spec Lead

Aaron Williams, the Spec Lead of JSR 215 which defines JCP 2.6, explains the changes in the new version of the process.

Q: What are the main changes with JCP 2.6?
AW: JCP 2.6 introduces several important improvements to the Java Community Process. First, under JCP 2.6, JSRs are required to have a transparency plan, and to operate with regard to that plan. This will ensure both community members and the public have greater visibility than ever before into the challenges and decisions of the Expert Group. Second, under JCP 2.6, JSRs are provided with an initial public review that does not have a ballot by the EC after it. This will encourage JSRs to go to review earlier in the cycle and encourage them to take more input from the community and the public. Finally, under JCP 2.6, the PMO and the Executive Committees are providing more help and guidance than ever before to ensure Spec leads have all of the information and tools they need to be successful. This will encourage a more diverse group of Spec Leads and ensure that each JSR is producing the highest quality spec possible.

Q: How will these changes effect JSRs?
AW: We expect these changes have three main effects on JSRs. First, we expect JSRs under JCP 2.6 to become more transparent, to the community and the public. This includes making more drafts of the spec available and providing more insight into decisions the Expert Group has made. Second, we expect JSRs to move more quickly through the process. By moving the ballot to the second review period, we expect JSRs to get to their first review more quickly, and getting to that first review has statistically taken the longest for JSRs in the past. Finally, we expect this produce higher quality specs, RIs and TCKs. By including more people in the review process, and providing more guidance to Spec Leads, these changes should enable JSRs to complete with all of the issues addressed.

Q: What was the process used to create JCP 2.6?
AW: The PMO filed JSR 215 last Spring and the Executive Committees formed the Expert Group for the JSR. Since then the PMO has worked with Spec Leads, community members and the public to refine the proposal. The JSR was completed at the end of 2003, and the PMO has been working since then to get the changes implemented in the process and on the web site.

Q: When does this take effect? And is it mandatory?
AW: JCP 2.6 takes effect on March 9, 2004. All JSRs currently operating under version 2.5 of the process will automatically and immediately be migrated to version 2.6. It is a mandatory change. There are a few JSRs that have finished Community Review (under 2.5) and have not yet reached Public Review. These JSRs will automatically migrate to version 2.6 after their Public Review. This ensures that no JSRs is forced to have an extra ballot.

Q: Who benefits most from these changes?
AW: Everyone involved in the JCP benefits. The public will now have access to an earlier review, with more time to comment on and monitor JSRs. Community members will also have increased access to drafts of the specs as well as more encouragement and opportunity to become more involved in the JSRs - either as an Expert Group member or Spec Lead. Members of the Expert Groups and Spec Leads will have more comments and more input to their JSRs, helping create a more robust spec. They will also have more guidance from the PMO and the Executive Committees on how to operate their JSR and how to ensure tricky things, like the TCK, are done properly.