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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.

Stefan Hepper
Stefan Hepper of Boeblingen, Germany, is a practical man who tries to figure out what people need and then deliver it to them. While he worked on a master's degree in Computer Science, he participated in academic research projects that had tangible value. For the Artemis project, he implemented a telepresence system for minimally invasive surgery, and for the MoMo project, he defined and implemented a modular robotic control system. Perhaps his interest in modern surgical techniques relates to the activities he enjoys: skiing, motorcycling, and driving his old Porsche 914.
Professional Pursuits
When he's not hanging out with family and friends, Stefan can be found in the WebSphere Portal Server Development group of IBM, where he is a software architect. He started programming with Java technology when it was still at version 0.9, circa 1996. Since then, Stefan has worked with Java technology as a user, developer, and architect on such projects as JavaCard, IBM Everyplace Synchronization Server, WebSphere Portal Server, and Apache Pluto. He plays the Java technology field, with his projects running the gamut from front-end for medical robotic systems to virtual machines that run Java technology on a smart card (JavaCard) to middleware (SyncML server and Portal server). Regardless of the project, Stefan remains passionate about creating well-documented standard interfaces for technologies to prevent problems that many customers would otherwise encounter.
Stefan began participating in the JCP program at the beginning of 2002 because customers wanted something done. The idea was for Stefan to become Spec Lead of JSR 162 Portlet API, which would enable interoperability between Portlets and Portals. Almost simultaneously, Sun Microsystems had submitted a similar request, not knowing of IBM's interest. When Onno Kluyt, director of the JCP PMO suggested a collaboration, Sun and IBM were happy to withdraw JSR 162 and join forces on JSR 168 Portlet Specification. Stefan co-led the new effort with Sun's Alejandro Abdelnur, and they agreed to a division of tasks, where IBM would assume responsibility for creating the Reference Implementation (RI) and Sun would create the Technology Compatibility Kit (TCK).
Joining Forces
"My co-lead and I tried to really leverage the Expert Group, and we very openly discussed all issues and solved issues by getting a consensus in the Expert Group," says Stefan. "We tried to be more the moderators that keep track of the issues, document the decision and provide proposals how open issues may be solved. We were very happy with our EG, everyone was really interested in solving the technical problems in a constructive way." The 20-member Expert Group used a mailing list, weekly phone calls, and more or less quarterly face-to-face meetings to stay in touch. 50 percent of the experts were highly active and formed much of the final specification.
Whenever the schedule would be impacted, Stefan and Alejandro conferred with the Expert Group to decide on how to update it. The team adhered fairly closely to the original schedule as it related to the technical part, but they underestimated how long it would take to figure out licensing terms that were acceptable to all participants.
Success Story
The successful work on JSR 168 is discussed in detail here. In the end, as long as customers' needs are met, Stefan is satisfied with the effort. He says, "I think the co-leadership was very fruitful, even if it slowed down the progress in the beginning due to a nine-hour time difference. It helped a lot to get different views on a problem and keep the Expert Group in the loop and not get into a pattern where the Spec Lead already has decided how the solution will look, and the Expert Group can only propose minor changes."
Stefan says, "I feel honored to be selected as Star Spec Lead together with Alejandro for our joint work we did on JSR 168."
Go to the Star Spec Lead Program page for more information.
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