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JavaOne Feature Article
JCP MeetUp at JavaOne

Within the Java Community Process (JCP) program, so much is happening: significant work on standards, important changes to the process, new Java User Group (JUG) members, trailblazing transparency strategies, and the launch of a new website. Meaningful and tangible productivity has a way of generating internal excitement, and that was clearly seen among the JCP program members who gravitated together at the 2009 JavaOne Conference held in San Francisco, California. See Pictures here...

First-Ever Transparency Workshop

The JCP community had plenty of opportunities to hang out together, starting with the first-ever transparency workshop. The latest changes to the JCP program, according to the maintenance release of Java Specification Request (JSR) 215, focus on ways to make every aspect of the process more transparent and efficient. To help Spec Leads and others come up to speed on what JCP 2.7 is all about, the Program Management Office (PMO) hosted a free Transparency Workshop at the Intercontinental Hotel in San Francisco on Monday, June 1.

For purposes of the JCP program, Harold Ogle, program manager, defined transparency as "communicating to the wider world about what's happening with the Expert Group's decision-making process and work status." Such enhanced communication will certainly require more work for the Spec Lead and the Expert Group, but it should also result in specifications that are more uniformly high quality.

In particular, comments from the public, and a discussion of those comments by the Spec Lead, must be made visible in some form. Each JSR must now include the full license text and terms, which should help the Expert Group post the last release after the Final Approval Ballot in a timely manner, since licensing issues are typically what keeps a specification from being released quickly. Each JSR's community update page must include an updated transparency checklist, so everyone can know what to expect from the Expert Group.

Since the new website supports the push toward transparency and agility, there was a quick overview of some of the useful features. For example, the website offers discussion boards with adjustable settings (public, observer, private), Bugzilla issue tracking, wiki functionality, and a customizable JSR watch list. It's easier to register, join and update personal profile and contact information, too.

JCP Leaders Get Together

After the Transparency Workshop adjourned, JUG leaders from all over the world got to meet together. The demographics of the JCP membership are shifting yet again as fifteen JUG leaders signed up for membership in 2009, during a promotional special: free membership to all JUGs. The United States JUGs are from Houston, Oklahoma City, Detroit, Connecticut, and Utah, and there is also an overall "umbrella" USA JUG. New international JUG members are from Brazil (Rio), England, France, Japan, Macedonia, Malaysia, Poland, Russia, and The Netherlands (Duchess). SouJava and BeJUG continued their membership, which began before 2009.

Down the street and around the corner at the Palace Hotel, JUG leaders, Spec Leads, and Executive Committee (EC) representatives met together for dinner a little later that evening. The split level room included both formal seating around tables as well as more casual high café tables. Over drinks, canapés, and made-to-order stir fry, the leaders chatted and chewed in small groups around the less formal area. Conversations focused less on technology and more on culture, politics, tourism, and other friendly gossip, including the little known fact that the Palace Hotel used to mark the shore of the San Francisco Bay.

Patrick Curran, chair of the JCP, said a few congratulatory words toward the end of the evening. He introduced the Star Spec Leads for 2009: Ed Burns of Sun Microsystems, Mike Milikich formerly of Motorola, and David Nuescheler of Day software. Star Spec Leads are those who consistently produce excellent specifications and set the bar for best practices in transparency and mentoring. The selection is based on broad feedback from fellow Spec Leads, Expert Group members, Executive Committee members, JCP Community members, and PMO staff. Patrick commended and challenged the Star Spec Leads, saying "We want you to reach out to your community, we want you to teach other people how to do your job, we want you to be an example to others."

Community Party for Past, Present, and Potential Members

On Tuesday evening, the entire JCP program community of past, present, and potential members were invited to the annual Community Party held at the Intercontinental Hotel. People arrived extra early in anticipation of the festivities. Classic pop rock tunes kept the ambiance upbeat, and people's lively conversations contributed to the positive energy.

With a large contingent of internationals, it didn't look as though travel budgets were stressed by the economic downturn. The covered outdoor terrace was packed all evening long with JUG members, individual JCP program members, Expert Group members, Spec Leads, EC members, the program office staff -- and Duke. The sumptuous buffet offered a sophisticated taste of halibut chutney, vicchysoisse, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, wild mushroom toast, chicken satay, and mashed potatoes served in martini glasses and garnished with self-serve toppings.

Halfway through the evening, Patrick Curran welcomed everyone and thanked the members for their hard work within the JCP program. Heather Vancura-Chilson, manager of the JCP PMO, announced all of the nominees before breaking the suspense to call out the winners of the annual JCP awards. The applause grew more exuberant with each introduction. Each winner received a unique stand-up plaque.

Geir Magnusson accepted the Member of the Year award for the Apache Software Foundation (ASF), and Bob Lea accepted the Participant of the Year award on behalf of Doug Lea. For the Java SE/EE platform, Spec Lead Roberto Chinicci accepted the Most Innovative JSR award for JSR 316, Java EE 6 platform, and Ed Burns received the Outstanding Spec Lead award for his work on JSR 314. For the Java ME platform, Christian Kurzke, on behalf of his former Motorola colleague Mike Milikich, accepted the Outstanding Spec Lead award for Mike's work on JSR 271 and the Most Innovative JSR award for JSR 271, Mobile Information Device Profile (MIDP) 3.0.

JUG Leaders Speak Out

When asked, the JUG leaders who were mingling at the community event were eager to explain their reasons for joining (or not joining) the JCP community.

Although Bert Ertman, leader of The Netherlands JUG (NLJUG), sees the JCP program as a going concern that is "doing great," he doesn't see any need for his JUG to join it. He says, "You should only join the JCP if it adds value, and right now the Dutch JUG is powerful as a local JUG. Our JUG likes to facilitate the Dutch Java programs, organizing two major events per year that attract up to 1250 people. We have lots of smaller events, too." NLJUG encourages its 3500 paying members to become individual members of the JCP community, and five or so have done that. Their most famous (honorary) member is Onno Kluyt, former chair of the JCP program.

Peter Pilgrim, founder and organizer of JAVAWUG (Java Web User Group), "the best well known JUG in London, England," says membership in his user group is free, so the group had no paid income to afford joining the JCP community until Heather Vancura-Chilson announced the free-for-a-year promotion at the Devoxx08 conference. In March, Peter signed up the JUG for membership in the JCP community. He speculates that some might want to get involved in developing a JSR, but he doesn't know of anyone specifically who is interested in that level of involvement. Peter hopes the reorganization of the JCP program allows much more standards-based information to flow to the "outer-rim" of the Java communiities. He suggests that a better outlet of the news and the advantages of being part of the JCP community could accelerate participation.

In Brazil, each of the 27 states has its own JUG, and Magno Cavalcante is the leader of RioJUG, a group of 1500 members. Because the group started before was created, RioJUG members have continued to interact through their original yahoo group, but they now use to develop their own open projects. Magno says, "For many years we aspired to participate in the JCP program, but we didn't have access because we needed to pay before." RioJUG subscribed to the JCP community in February 2009 during the special promotion. He goal is that after JavaOne 2009, RioJUG will try to delegate a few members to explore particular topics and platforms within the JCP program and then share what they learned with the JUG. He expects that the delegates will start as observers, but in the future may propose their own JSRs or participate in Expert Groups, acting similarly to how any company that has paid to enter the JCP community would act.

Like Magno, Michael "Van" Riper only sees the upside of belonging to the JCP community. As interim president, Van leads the newly formed JUG-USA, a super-JUG that other American JUGs can join. Van conceived the idea for such an umbrella group when he observed that American JUGs tend to be independently active, but not interactive with the hundred or so other JUGs in the US. Nevertheless, Van thought everyone could benefit from more collaboration, so when the offer to join the JCP program for free came along, and he realized no one else was paying enough attention to even see it, and he asked the PMO if it would be okay for an umbrella JUG to join and allow affiliated JUGs to participate in the JCP community. They agreed, and that's when JUG-USA was formed. Already 25 JUGs are affiliated with JUG-USA, and the group is interested in getting a representative on the Executive Committee to voice American JUG interests. Dan Sline, the JCP liaison for JUG-USA and for HJUG in Houston, sees numerous other advantages for having his JUGs join the JCP community, such as having access to JCP program resources and Sun Microsystems' ten percent discount on training. As JCP program liaison, Dan keeps track of which affiliated members are involved in the JCP community and in which projects. Moreover, he votes in elections, looks at new specifications that intrigue him, and digests JCP email and passes on whatever seems pertinent to others' interests.

Toward the end of the evening, the PMO raffled a Flip UltraHD digital camcorder. Renaud Waldurn, a software developer at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), a school renown for its medical program, was the lucky winner. He came to the party at the invitation of JCP friends. Previously when he previously worked for the Zero G corporation, a member of the JCP community, he participated in the Expert Group's work on a JSR on packaging and deployment. He is considering joining the JCP community, now that he knows there is no fee required for individual members. He says, "I really appreciate all the efforts of the JCP program. I'm an avid consumer of the JCP's efforts."

The community event went overtime, with participants continuing to talk in small groupings. Throughout the evening a continuous slide show welcomed new JUG members, listed all the awards nominees and Star Spec Leads, and announced the June 16 launch date for the new and improved Gifts of mint tins, t-shirts celebrating the relaunch, and badge ribbons were handed out to everyone.

Just Hanging Out Like a Community Should

In keeping with the growing social tone of the JCP community, JCP representatives opted to hang out in the Community Corner of the Pavilion area in Moscone Hall, Tuesday through Thursday, to be available to chat and respond to questions. Expert Groups could also schedule a time to meet in a designated room of the Intercontinental Hotel to discuss JSRs they are working on.

Later that Thursday afternoon at 4:10 PM, a panel discussion took place as a scheduled JavaOne event. PAN-5336 "MSA 2: How Do We Work Toward a Consistent Java Platform?" , along with a 7:30 Birds-of-a-feather (BOF) session, this year focusing on "Meet the ME Executive Committee." At the BOF, JavaOne attendees had the opportunity to comment and ask questions to follow up on the discussion. The JCP program office also participated in 2 evening BOF sessions with members and leaders of JUGs that evening.