The Java Community Process (JCP) program applauds the community's Star Spec Leads.
These leaders earned this honor through their efficient, prompt, and transparent
communication with their Expert Group, the Program Management Office (PMO), and the
Executive Committee (EC). They used community web pages, observer aliases, and other
tools to communicate with their expert group, the JCP program community, and the public.
They kept their Java Specification Requests (JSRs) on schedule by making sure their team
stayed focused and felt appreciated. The JCP program congratulates and honors these Star
As a Lead Scientist for Panasonic Digital Networking Lab, John Buford conducts research in
middleware for Java technology-enabled consumer electronics devices. After earning a PhD in Computer Science,
John has held a wide variety of professional positions.
While an Associate Professor at the University
of Massachusetts Lowell, he directed the Distributed
Multimedia Systems Lab, which had projects in
multimedia databases, authoring, conferencing,
content formats, networking, interactive TV,
and systems. He was Director of Internet Technologies
for a large service provider and served as VP
of engineering for a startup company developing
Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME) implementations for
various mobile and embedded platforms. He was
Chief Architect of a portfolio of network management
systems for a large service provider, has researched
middleware for consumer electronics, and been
a software consultant in various industries ranging
from semiconductor to pharmaceutical.
John encountered Java technology in early 1995 before it was even called that. Back then it was known as
Oak, which John was reviewing after Sun Microsystems proposed it as a platform for a multimedia standard
John was co-editing for the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). A few months later, his
research lab at the university wrote several Java technology clients for a hypermedia document delivery
system. John started using the technology since it offered cross-platform development, applications that
could run in a web browser, and an elegant object-oriented programming language.
Since then, John has worked with Java technology
from the perspective of a developer, project lead,
vendor, and researcher, covering all three editions
of the Java Platform. He has developed clients for
multimedia/hypermedia servers, network management systems,
and workflow/ecommerce systems. He was the first to
use Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) application servers
for telecommunications network management and the
first to implement the Java Virtual Machine Profiler
Interface (JVMPI) for a Mobile Information Device
Profile/Connected Limited Device Configuration (MIDP/CLDC)
platform. John participated in developing a J2ME VM
for various mobile and embedded platforms, including
a Just-in-Time (JIT) compiler for the MIDP/CLDC platform.
John joined the JCP program in 2002. On behalf of his employer, Panasonic, which is an
EC member, John serves as a secondary representative to the EC, an Expert Group member
of JSR 259 Ad Hoc Networking
API, and co-Spec Lead on four JSRs:
Since John often attends EC meetings, he communicates with the PMO directly while there
or by email. "The PMO has been responsive at each step in the progression of the specifications, and advising
on topics related to reaching consensus within the EG and intellectual property rights issues," John says.
John communicates with the Expert Groups over email, periodic face-to-face meetings,
conference calls, and, as the opportunity arises, personal one-on-ones. "If I have a business trip to an
area where an Expert Group member is located, I will frequently arrange a meeting to discuss the JSRs," says
John. "We have benefited from collegial working relationships, and these one-on-one discussions have fostered
that." Internal documents are available on the Expert Group pages.
"The Expert Group is a crucial stakeholder in insuring a successful specification
that will be widely used," John says. For the Expert Group meetings to go as well as possible, John finds it
important to establish a clear agenda, prepare materials in advance, and give all parties the opportunity to
participate and voice concerns. He feels the Spec Lead should remain as neutral as possible while identifying
action items and making sure they are followed through.
Many of the Experts bring their significant experience into the group, in terms of
related standards and product development. As each individual Expert is a stakeholder in the spec, each should be
recognized for the value they provide in improving the specification, John says. They should not be expected nor
permitted to operate in a vacuum, that is, the key design choices should be shared and discussed in the Expert Group.
The members of the Expert Groups contributed in terms of requirements, strategy,
architecture, technical reviews, and, in some cases, prototyping. As Spec Lead, John and colleagues at
Panasonic developed the Reference Implementation (RI) and Technology Compatibility Kit (TCK).
Everyone should know what is expected with regards to the schedule because the
timeline is important. Like most Spec Leads, John is pretty sure this area could stand some improvement.
"In some cases we changed the schedule to address unforeseen technical issues or to reach consensus
within the Expert Group. In these cases, we discussed the schedule impact with the EG in advance,"
he says. He has observed that up to the public review stage, schedule management is more or less of an issue,
depending on the size of the Expert Group and its members' level of participation in the specification. After
public review, when the spec should be fairly stable, schedule management concerns shift to focus more on mustering
the resources to complete the RI and TCK development.
Although the JSRs John is co-leading still operate under Java Specification Participation
Agreement (JSPA) version 1.0, he says, "We aim for transparency in the specification development since the Expert
Group is a stakeholder in it." He tends to communicate less about progress in the RI and TCK development unless
an EG member has expressed an interest in contributing to either of them.
John appreciates the work of the PMO to improve communication in the community, particularly
between Spec Leads.
John lives in the USA, and he enjoys golfing and skiing.
Go to the Star
Spec Lead Program page for more information.
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