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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.

Danny Coward
Oxford University, the oldest English-speaking university in the world, began offering instruction circa 1096. Soon it emerged as a highly esteemed institution known for promoting lively debate on controversial matters, a practice it carries to this day. 900 years after the school formed, native Englishman Danny Coward, graduated from it with a PhD in Number Theory and a similar regard for heated discussion.
Danny began working for a small London consultancy, which previously specialized in SmallTalk, but had migrated to the new Java technology. While there, he developed an appreciation for the Java language and used it to create a proof of concept for online banking for their client Reuters.
Tool Development
A couple of years later, Danny joined Sun Microsystems to work on developing Java tools, and he quickly deepened his involvement. He moved into the newly forming Java Enterprise Edition (EE) group to lead the effort to develop deployment tools for Sun's Application Server PE. He spent some years coauthoring and then leading the development of the Java Servlet technology through its incorporation into the Java EE platform and beyond for the 2.2., 2.3, and 2.4 versions. Danny also created the Java Blueprints for Wireless program, which offers sample applications that define best practices for developing networked wireless applications, such as games.
Representative, Spec Lead, Expert, and Observer
Since 1999, Danny has become actively involved in the JCP program in various capacities:
  • JSR 37 Expert for Mobile Information Device Profile for the Java Micro Edition (ME)
  • JSR 53 Spec Lead for Java Servlet 2.3 and JavaServer Pages 1.2 Specifications
  • JSR 68 Expert for Java ME Platform
  • JSR 116 Expert SIP Servlet API
  • JSR 118 Observer for Mobile Information Device Profile 2.0
  • JSR 124 Spec Lead Java EE Client Provisioning Specification
  • JSR 154 Spec Lead Java Servlet 2.4 Specification
  • JSR 172 Launched Java ME Web Services Specification
  • Alternate representative for Sun on the JCP Executive Committee, both for ME and SE/EE

  • Diverse Viewpoints Welcomed
    Danny welcomed pretty much anyone who wanted to join his Expert Group and who would add value to the community and the technology, including people who were at times opinionated and controversial. "I figured it was convenient to have all the people who cared about the technology in one place, so I would know what they all thought. That way all the fights, if there were to be any, were visible to everyone who cared," he says.
    He realized that some Expert Groups could get extremely large, but in practice a smaller number of people actually contribute. To acknowledge those working the hardest, Danny believed it was important to link the proportion of contribution to the level of criticism so that the more an Expert contributed, the more his or her criticism counted for.
    "Occasionally, when I had highly critical voices in the Expert Group, I would ask for a properly thought though counterproposal rather than just a critique. It's always easier to criticize someone else's evolving idea than to produce one of your own! This helped keep things generally constructive," he says.
    You can read his daily thoughts and other considerations on Danny's blog.
    Time-Driven Agendas and Prompt Replies
    With three Spec Lead experiences under his belt, Danny has varied his approach to managing communications within the Expert Group. For example, he organized occasional social gatherings at conferences for the large JSR 53 group, hosted teleconferences and face-to-face meetings for the 20-member JSR 124 group, and relied on email for all the groups. He ran the face-to-face meetings on a time-driven agenda, and the group was usually successful in addressing all urgent topics during the scheduled time.
    Answering calls and emails fairly promptly is important to Danny. "Even if I didn't always have an answer, it seemed critical, especially when people raised an issue by email, to have some kind of status or response in order to build the trust that I was on top of things and would do something about the issue," he says. He was unusually lucky to be able to focus on shaping technical issues since his program manager handled all administrative communication with the PMO.
    To keep his Expert Group up-to-date, Danny used the standard Expert Group page to post specification drafts, meeting agendas, a table of open, closed, and remaining issues, and other documents.
    Gaining Perspective
    With six years of experience in the JCP program, Danny feels strongly that the longevity of Java APIs and platforms is coming about because of the breadth and depth of community participation. "One perspective is not enough," he says.
    To take a break from life as a senior staff software engineer at Sun, Danny plays the violin or does Yoga. "Both are good counterbalances for working in technology," he says. He thrives in San Francisco, California, a hot-bed of civil rights and social movement controversies.
    Go to the Star Spec Lead Program page for more information.
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