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
Students often play games
like Tetris to avoid doing their
schoolwork. Andreas Ebbert instead
chose to clone Tetris for his freshman
school project at the Ruhr-University
in Bochum. Besides the fact that
he called the game Tritris, substituting
triangles for the squares in the
game, the more interesting point
is that although he was first learning
C++ at the university, he instead
chose to use Java technology to develop
The game was started at the end of 1995 but
never completed, and Andreas moved on to hone
his Java technology skill in a variety of projects.
For example, he jointly developed a checker
variant called "Nicand's Dame," still
available at nicand.ebbert.org. He designed
a Java technology GUI that was connected to
an autonomous doube stereo-camera robot over
a TCP/IP connection, enabling it to display
video data and control the robot's movement.
His diploma, similar to a master's thesis,
related to a software component for a network
planning application, where the user could
use Java3D to enter the network data in a visual
Professionally, 2001 was a watershed year for Andreas.
He parlayed his experience into a job at Nokia
Networks, where he is currently a Software Design
Engineer. He is responsible for the Java 2 Enterprise
Edition (J2EE) programming for Nokia NetActÍ network
and service management system. Also in 2001, Andreas
joined the OSS through Java Initiative (OSS/J)
and began participating in the JCP program. He
created the Reference Implementation (RI) and
part of the Technology Compatibility Kit (TCK)
89 OSS Service Activation API, which was
then being led by Stefan Vaillant. Andreas worked
closely with Stefan, and once the JSR was finalized
in 2002, became the Maintenance Lead. He participated
in all OSS
JSRs, and developed a "good deal" of
the RI for JSR
144 OSS Common API. He serves as an Expert
263 Fault Management API, and he is Spec
Lead for JSR
264 OrderManagement API. See also OSS
Expert Group communication takes place in the form
of emaildiscussions, weekly conference calls, rare
face-to-face meetings, andpublic and private websites.
Andreas tries to answer all emails aboutJSR 264,
whether from the Expert Group or the PMO, on a
daily basis. "Of course, since my JSR Spec Lead activities
only get a fraction ofmy working time, unfortunately,
sometimes there are other urgentthings to manage,
and my answers may be delayed, but that should nothappen
To make conference calls more productive,
all Experts have an accountfor a web conferencing
software so they can share documents, slides,and meeting
minutes, while talking on the phone. Andreas refers
totime zones as the "unsolvable problem" with
conference calls. JSR264's Expert Group is spread
evenly around the globe, which makes itdifficult to
agree on times for the conference calls.
Andreas says, "We
switch the time every month to share the pain, butthere
is always only a fraction of the team on the call.
Face-to-facemeetings are even harder to achieve since
travel restrictions apply toall Expert Group members,
including me. Luckily we managed to meet fora few
hours during the TeleManagement World in Nice, but
only fivemembers were present, while the Expert Group
is more than twice asbig." Still, he finds that
face-to-face meetings are "incrediblyvaluable
and productive," so he wishes the group could
do more of them.
A member of the java.net JSR community,
JSR 264 has a public
project on java.net to advertise all progress,
and a private project to exchange documentsand benefit
from the source control capabilities (CVS). Links
andinformation about JSR 264 are also provided on
www.ossj.org, where all OSS JSRs are promoted. The
OSS through Java Initiative spreads thenews about
progress on all OSS JSRs through its website, interestmailing
lists, webinars, and trade-shows, to name a few.
The scenario in which the Spec Lead
does all the work, while theExpert Group members just
throw in their expertise every now and then,sounds
like a nightmare to Andreas. "I do expect all
my members tocontribute actively, and I selected the
nominees based on thatcriteria. For that I also track
the participation in the group, bykeeping track of
who joined which conference call, for example, and
Iactively contact members either by email or phone
when I see that theyare not contributing at a level
that is necessary for the Expert Groupto succeed.
Of course I cannot force anybody to donate their valuableworking
time to my JSR, but I try to make them understand
how theybenefit by participating."
on the Expert Group as a team of equal people. "There'snothing
worse than Expert Group members who don't talk to
each other. Rather then telling the group what to
do, I see my role as an enablerand moderator of discussion," he
says. To enable, he creates anenvironment in which
work can be done effectively: being responsive toemails,
distributing meeting minutes within 24 hours of the
meeting,providing the conference call bridge and the
web conferencingaccounts, creating and managing the
projects on java.net, and so forth.
The job of turning
a group of individual experts into an Expert Group
-- a team! -- "is maybe the most important task
for me as a SpecLead," says Andreas. A team shares
the same goals and agrees on how toachieve them. Trust
is important, too. "We have to know about ourroles
and about the roles of the others in the team, and
that we canrely on them," he says.
Keeping the schedule
is a secondary goal for Andreas. To Andreas, itis
far more important that the Expert Group delivers
excellent qualityand stays committed to the common
goal. When the team has thatattitude, keeping the
schedule is a result not the goal. Although itmay
be tempting, he suggests that after the JSR has started, "don'timmediately
open your favorite IDE and start coding. Take a step
backand discuss what you really want to do. You will
be amazed at howdifferent is what everybody in the
Expert Group thinks is the commongoal and what they
want to achieve in the JSR."
Andreas feels that
when everybody is motivated and heading in the samedirection,
progress will automatically follow. Still, the work
shouldnot get lost in unnecessary details. He says, "You
can make everythingmore perfect, but you also have
to deliver something in the end. It isequally important
to make decisions about what you are going to workon
in this JSR, and what you postpone to later revisions."
The date the JSR finals is not the end of the line. "Always
keep inmind, that there are people out there who will
use what you havecreated," says Andreas. The
user can be the person who is implementingthe specification
or the one employing an application that resultedfrom
it. "This is a pleasure because it feels good
when you realizethat what you've done is considered
useful by others, but it also putsa burden on you,
when you strive to fulfill those user's expectationsas
well as you can by asking yourself, 'Is it intuitively
easy tounderstand, use, and implement?'"
JSR 264 is a wonderful
opportunity, and Andreas wishes he had moretime to
do everything that interests him. Being named a Star
Spec Leadis icing on the cake. He says, "I don't
know all the other Spec Leads,but being listed together
with celebrities like Linda DeMichiel or myOSS/J fellow
Vincent Perrot makes me feel proud and motivated tocontinue
my work within the JCP program. It's also an interesting
factthat there are three guys from Nokia nominated."
working at Nokia, Andreas is studying economics part-time
andplanning to get his degree by the end of 2006.
He already has adiploma in Electrical Engineering,
a degree requiring at least fourand a half years of
Andreas thoroughly enjoys being
creative and finding pragmaticsolutions in a restricted
environment. With Java Micro Editon, forexample, the
restriction is the runtime environment, where the
API isquite limited, as is the hardware, in terms
of screen size, lack ofmouse, and few keys. The challenge
is to create sophisticatedapplications anyway.
lived in Germany all his life "so far," though
Andreas just spenta week sailing in the Mediterranean
Sea. He enjoys other sports too: running, badminton,
and hiking. He likes the cinema, enjoyingHollywood
blockbusters and Scandinavian independent films equallywell.
He spends evenings with friends playing a wide variety
of boardgames -- a popular activity in Germany --
such as "The Settlers ofCatan." He also
plays computer games on his N-Gage, a mobile phonewith
gaming capabilities, allowing users to compete against
othersanywhere in the world.
Go to the Star
Spec Lead Program page for more information.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .