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Star Spec Lead Profiles

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 Spec Leads.

John Buford
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.
Experienced with Java Technology
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.
Stakeholders Have a Vested Interest
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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