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JUGs from Brazil and England Bring Alternate View on Issues and Opportunities Facing JCP

The JCP community welcomed a new kind of member to the SE/EE Executive Committee -- Java User Groups (JUGs) from Brazil and England.

The London Java Community JUG is represented by Ben Evans. He has been a professional developer and open source enthusiast since the late 90s. Currently an in-house Java expert at one of the world's leading financial service institutions, Ben is most interested in language design and virtual machine ergonomics.

Ben reports that the London Java Community feels “amazingly flattered” to have won a seat on the SE/EE EC. “We didn't think we'd win -- our original purpose for standing was just to be part of the discussion. It's easy to take shots and complain from the outside, but we really do believe in the Java community and platform, and we felt that we could do some good by throwing our hat in the ring.” He figures they were elected as one of the first JUGs to serve in this way “because we're something new. We are a user group who serves the largest single concentration of Java developers in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA). We have a strong, and openly stated bias for open source and free software -- and at the same time, the majority of our members work in corporate environments.” As such, the JUG comprehends both open source and corporate viewpoints and languages.

According to Ben, the JUG’s motivation is altruistic: “We have no commercial interests in the space. We only want to see the ecosystem continue to be #1 for the shared, mutual benefit of all our members. As we see it, this is win-win, and we hope that we live up to the trust that JCP members placed in us via their votes.”

JUGs aren’t generally known for being wealthy in resources, and resources are part of what enables effective service on the EC. However, this doesn’t seem to be a problem for the London Java Community. Ben explains, “We have a very deep bench. London is one of the deepest talent pools in the world, and we are extremely lucky to have so many talented individuals able to act as second.”

The London JUG wants more and better for the JCP community. As Ben puts it, “Radical transparency. Faster decision making. More involvement by the ordinary developer. It's awesome what Patrick Curran and the others have started -- and as long as we're on the committee we'll push for furtherance of that agenda.”

Ben sees the JCP program as a funnel that takes diverse voices and channels them into a usable standard. He says, “The Java community is not monolithic. It comprises a very broad church indeed, from extremely change-averse and heavily regulated multinationals through some of the most radical, tiny startups. Standardization is what allows all of those companies to speak the same language and hire from a common pool. As the influence of the Java platform grows, the importance of standardization can only grow as well.” In general, Ben believes “the future is bright. We will have more members and more participation year on year for at least the next five years.”

Although Ben is concerned about the JCP program’s pace of change, he recognizes that “good people” are already working on that. Two other major issues he perceives are the need to revise the Java Specification Participation Agreement (JSPA) and the need to involve more end-user developers in the standardization process. “We feel very confident that the new committee is now in a good position to deal with these issues,” he says.

The Brazilian JUG, SouJava, is represented by Bruno Ferreira de Souza. Bruno is founder and coordinator of SouJava (Sociedade de Usuários da Tecnologia Java; Java Technology Users Society) and a Java developer deeply committed to open source. He helped launch many JUGs worldwide.

Bruno has extensive Java development experience with large projects in the government, finance, and service industries. He also promotes and develops cloud-based systems using Java technology. He says, “We are very honored that the Java community accepted our participation, and we understand that we have a large responsibility. In some ways, it is also a bit scary that so many people are trusting us to help change the JCP program, and we will work hard to make sure our share of the effort is well applied and can bring the best results.”

SouJava is well positioned to serve the JCP community. Bruno explains, “SouJava is a large user group, with many members interested in dealing with the JCP community. We plan to share the load with those individual developers who want to participate, so we can have strong involvement.” SouJava also has a long history of interaction with other JUGs, having helped to create the Brazilian JUGs Community (BrasilJUGs) and start and participate in the worldwide JUGs Community. “We are already discussing with other JUGs, especially those that are already members of the JCP, and also with the London Java Community that has been elected to the EC. By joining the efforts of many JUGs and developers, we hope to have strong participation in many areas of the JCP program,” Bruno says.

SouJava has been deeply involved in Java standards discussions from the earliest days before the JCP program was even formalized. After the inception of the JCP program and its evolution to a more open and inclusive process that incorporates open source projects and communities, SouJava defended the importance of the JCP effort inside Brazil, and promoted Brazilian interests inside the process. Bruno believes the Java platform now stands at an important juncture, where it can either become a fundamental technology in the future of computing or slowly decline in importance. “It will depend on how companies and communities see and interact with the Java standards. Because of this, SouJava wanted to get more directly involved, to bring to the JCP the views of the end developers, and help make sure Java will have the standards in place to fulfill its better potential.”

SouJava offers the view of the day-to-day Java developer. Bruno says, “SouJava believes stronger participation by developers who use the technology will show vendors that not only is the definition of standards important, but a process that guarantees the usability and the wide availability of the technology, which is a requirement for the success of Java technology and standards.”

Bruno wants the JCP to require more transparency from all members, so developers can more easily participate. “Today, the levels of required transparency allow interested parties to participate, but with a significant effort, and this is one of the reasons why vendors tend to dominate the process,” he says. He maintains that this is not enough. “The JCP is the place standards are defined, but of course innovation usually happens outside of a standard process. Innovation happens inside projects, both open source and proprietary, created by developers trying to solve users’ problems. The JCP standards will only be relevant if the program is able to attract those innovations to the process, both from the large vendors and companies, but also the innovation happening inside open source communities.” Moreover, once defined, the JCP standards need to be widely adopted and implemented. To enable that last step, Bruno feels the rules for inbound contributions and outbound licenses must be clear, easy to understand and apply, and relevant for a large number of developers and projects.

For SouJava, the JCP community has to be the place where standards are defined. The process must continue to encourage companies, communities, and individual developers to contribute to the definition of the standards, and also to implement and use them. “The whole objective of a standard is to serve as a common ground, and that will not happen if those who will use it are not happy with how things are defined,” Bruno says. “We are willing to work on the JCP to make it more inclusive, to allow easier participation from companies and developers, and to guarantee that the Java standards can be effectively and completely implemented by all interested parties, with clear rules and equivalent rights.”