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
Antti Rantalahti is a senior research engineer at Nokia Research
Center in Helsinki, Finland. Holding a master's degree in Computer
Science, he started his career with Nokia in 1995, working with network
management systems. For a while, he did Wireless Application Protocol
(WAP) related projects before moving to the Research Center in 2001.
During the '90's, Java technology touched his work, but it evolved into
a full-time job in 2001 after coworker Jyri Huopaniemi started JSR 135
Mobile Media API and Antti worked on it as Nokia's technical Expert.
For the last four years, Antti has been involved with most of the multimedia-related Java ME standards:
JSR 135 Expert and Maintenance Lead for Mobile Media API
JSR 184 Expert for Mobile 3D Graphics API for Java ME
JSR 226 Expert for Scalable 2D Vector Graphics API for Java ME
JSR 234 Spec Lead for Advanced Multimedia Supplements,
which won the 2004 JCP program award for Most Innovative JSR for Java ME Platform
JSR 272 Spec Lead for Mobile Broadcast Service API for Handheld Terminals
Antti also participated in some internal Nokia projects doing
research on Java multimedia technology as a way to prepare for the
standardization work that is visible to the JCP community. He enjoys the
challenges inherent with multimedia. "In the Java ME domain, the number
of different hardware and software multimedia platforms is huge. Mapping
all of them under some generic API to allow the best possible use of the
available resources but to still have transportable applications makes
this work interesting," he says.
When it comes to leading an Expert Group, Antti focuses on the
key issues of communication and delegation. Still, he says, "Communication always has the top priority. Quick response time and
correctness are part of being professional." Experts should know that
they have all the same information as the Spec Lead has and feel that
they are the ones who can and will do the work. When Antti receives a
question or comment, he responds right away, even if his answer is that
he doesn't know and he'll answer more completely when he has the
information. He treats all contacts throughout the entire lifecycle of a
JSR with the same courtesy. He feels keenly the responsibility of
representing Nokia and the JCP program to the outside world and will
spend the minute it takes to write an email response. "The TCK
challenges must be handled especially quickly. When someone has a
product in development, I don't want to cause any extra delays for
them," he says.
Antti tries to keep communication channels open in both
directions with his Expert Group, and so far the information has flowed
at a reasonable enough level to avoid drowning in it. Email is the
primary tool of choice. Minutes from all face-to-face meetings and
conference calls are written and delivered to the members. API drafts
and other documents are placed on a group member's Website -- Nokia's external site
for JSR 234 and Motorola's site for JSR 272 -- with the Java sources and, in
case of JSR 234, with change logs as well. During a review period of the
process, all JSR comments are collected in a single document to be
discussed and resolved one by one when the review period is over.
Antti makes sure that all Expert Group meetings have clear goals
and a well-written agenda to allow members to prepare in advance. The needs of remote
participants who are in different time zones are considered, too. The agenda is usually
updated during the meeting to optimize time management. By the end of the day, meeting
minutes are emailed to all Expert Group members. Members on different time zones can
choose to join the meeting for the summary only, and they are welcome to comment before the
meeting continues the next day.
"The Spec Lead is clearly the driver of a JSR, so it's my
responsibility to keep the pace," says Antti. However, he strongly
believes that creating the specification is the team's work. Part of his
role as Spec Lead is to ensure that the atmosphere of the group
encourages individual members to contribute and influence the part of
the specification that has been delegated to them. "The
specification is always the result of compromises, and the Spec Lead can
greatly affect how they are made. It's a matter of balance between
usability, implementability, functionality, and the needs of individual
members," he says.
Everything may be negotiable, but proposed changes and
compromises must be backed up with sound reasons. Antti does not feel
that adhering to the original schedule is critically important in and of
itself, but justification is necessary for any slip in the final release
date. The most important thing is for progress to be steady and
predictable, even when it may not be visibly apparent, such as when the
Spec Lead is quietly developing the RI and TCK in the background. The
schedule is updated to keep Expert Group members on track, and the PMO
is alerted when Antti communicates in advance of precess milestones to
let the staff prepare for incoming deliverables.
Antti is pleased with being named a Star Spec Lead, saying, "I
see it as a merit for myself, my company, and the Expert Group. I'm
backed up by a good organization in Nokia, and the Experts from other
companies have been very competent and productive. For my part, I do my
best to make things happen as smoothly as possible now and in the
Being a father of two small boys takes almost all of Antti's
free time. What little remains is mostly filled with cycling or, in the
winter, playing squash. "I try to stay fit all year around and I compete
in mountain biking a few times in the season," he says. Antti tries to
maintain his old interest in computer gaming, especially racing
simulations, and for reading science fiction and "other stuff that most software engineers find cool."
Go to the Star Spec Lead Program page for more information.
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