By Susan Mitchell
During the JavaOne Conference, when geographically far flung JCP members are briefly co-located, the JCP community honors its own. The year's best Spec Leads, la crème de la crème of Java Specification Requests (JSRs), and the one member who has impacted the program most significantly are cheered and honored at the evening event held Wednesday, May 17, at the Argent Hotel.
At least three qualities characterize the Member of the Year: leadership, investment in the community, and innovation. This year's winner, Sony Ericsson, has been a JCP member since shortly after the company was formed in October 2001.
Almost from the beginning of Sony Ericsson's involvement in the JCP program, the company was elected to the EC and reelected in 2005, for a three-year term. Sony Ericsson holds to the notion that, wielded properly, the vote has the power to enable positive change. Hanz Hager accepted the award on behalf of Sony Ericsson.
As Java Product Manager, Hanz is responsible for the Java technology strategy at Sony Ericsson, and he serves as the company's primary representative on the Java Micro Edition (ME) Executive Committee (EC).When approving JSRs, Hanz is not afraid to cast a "no" vote if he feels such a message needs to be communicated. So far, he says each of his negative votes has prompted Expert Group action so that the issues were fixed.
During the last Java ME EC election cycle, Sony Ericsson let it be known that their goal was to establish industry objectives for the JCP program that would make Java technology the premier choice of an open development platform for mobile devices. Hanz characterizes the company as "very aggressive in the mobile space, and Java is something we have put a lot of effort in." The company fosters "great communication with developers, and we constantly think of what developers need," says Hanz.
Innovation is an essential part of Sony Ericsson's stated mission to "serve the global communications market with innovative and feature-rich mobile phones, accessories, and PC-cards." It's a commitment, not just talk. The company builds Java technology into most of the phones it offers. Moreover, many of the newest phones implement the technology of several JSRs, including:
- - JSR 75 PDA Optional Packages for the J2ME Platform
- - JSR 82 Java APIs for Bluetooth
- - JSR 172 Java ME Web Services Specification
- - JSR 184 Mobile 3D Graphics API for J2ME
- - JSR 205 Wireless Messaging API 2.0
Someday, consumers won't be tied to their television sets in order to catch a CNN report, a rerun of Friends, a soccer game in progress, or the local weather report. JSR 272 Mobile Broadcast Service API for Handheld Terminals will pave the way for viewers to be able to watch television and more from their cell phones and other mobile devices.
This kind of cutting-edge innovation is the lifeblood of the JCP program. Co-Spec Leads Antti Rantalahti of Nokia and Ivan Wong of Motorola, with an Expert Group of 22 members, have guided JSR 272 through its Early Draft Review. Antti says, This is the most complex JSR I've ever been involved with. Because of the complexity of the JSR, the Expert Group members really bring value to the effort. No single company is the best Expert on all areas we have to cover.
With the advances in mobile TV technologies like Digital Video Broadcast - Handheld (DVB-H), Digital Multimedia Broadcasting (DMB), Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB), and MediaFLO, bringing broadcast entertainment to your mobile phones is a reality. The JSR 272 API enables applications to take advantage of these technologies. As a result, consumers can do even more than just watch TV.
JSR 272 makes it possible to interface with the underlying broadcast service implementation, so that users can access the Electronic Service Guide and interact with traditional game shows, sports, and shopping channels as well as rich media applications and mobile-specific, location-based content. Users will also be able to record contents and manipulate auxiliary data, including applications, that are broadcast with the media.
Ivan says, The innovative part of this JSR is being able to provide rich capabilities like that of a full-scale interactive TV settop box, plus the addition of new capabilities like timed-recording, management of multiple broadcast platforms, independence of different ESG schematics and protocols -- while fitting all that in a small footprint and in harmony with the rest of the Connected Limited Device Configuration (CLDC)/Mobile Information Device Profile (MIDP) platform. Special attention has been taken to accommodate purchasing, security, and Digital Rights Management (DRM) specific to broadcast services.
Spec Leads are the bright lights in the community, willing to shoulder difficult work, which is often above and beyond what they are paid to do in their day jobs. Asko Komsi of Nokia and Mark Duesner of Vodafone were nominated for their role in co-leading JSR 248 Mobile Service Architecture (MSA). After putting in many hours of laudable effort on JSR 248, Mark is moving on to another position, leaving Asko to carry on.
Asko joined the JCP program fairly recently in 2004, but he has spent two decades working in various expert and leadership roles in research, standardization, technology strategy boards, and ventures focusing on mobile technologies and services. With this experience, he has amassed considerable technical knowledge and business acumen in the wireless and mobile space. In his current position of director of industry relations at the Nokia Research Center, Asko is responsible for next generation, mobile Java technology standardization and related industry cooperation.
Consensus among industry leaders can be difficult to achieve, if people aren't willing to work together. As one of Nokia's representatives on the Java ME EC, Asko has an insider's view into how industry leaders are working together toward a common good. On a more regular basis in his Expert Group, Asko promotes such collaboration by setting the direction for the JSR, patiently getting buy-in through lengthy discussions, and establishing processes that take the group step by step to the end of the path. Although there is certainly a diversity of corporate goals represented in the Expert Group, Asko says the ultimate goal for the JSR is to "make good compromises and define an excellent standard that is acceptable for the whole industry." Asko has found that he can usually iron out any issues with company politics in one-on-one negotiations.
In the interest of efficiency, Asko runs a transparent work environment, making all materials, schedules, and decisions openly available to the Expert Group. He puts forth clear agendas, updated schedules, and regular progress reports to help keep the specification on schedule. Asko relies on the web-based collaboration tool, Teamroom, as well as mailing lists, teleconferences, face-to-face meetings, and occasional one-on-ones to make sure that "execution of the JSR is smooth and stays on schedule."
JSR 292 Supporting Dynamically Typed Languages on the Java Platform has just been approved so that a complete Expert Group can form. Despite being in the fledgling stage, this JSR has got some JCP members excited. It is definitely going for the gusto, reaching so far technologically that some naysayers have expressed their doubts. But that's what innovation is all about, diving deep into the unknown to retrieve the materials that can make incredible things possible.
The Spec Lead for JSR 292 is Gilad Bracha, a "computational theologist" and distinguished engineer at Sun Microsystems has been a Spec Lead for a remarkable total of seven JSRs: 14, 65, 175, 201, 202, 292, and 294. Gilad says that JSR 292 plans to extend sufficient support in the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) for implementers of dynamically typed languages to directly target the JVM's object model. This support will allow these languages--such as Lisp, Python, Ruby, and Smalltalk--to leverage the high-end performance capabilities of JVMs. "We hope to accomplish this by allowing dynamically typed byte code to be executed efficiently yet safely, and by supporting the hotswapping facilities these languages need," he says. Hotswapping is the ability to alter code while it is running.
"I've been trying to get these features into the Java platform for nine years, says Gilad, who believes these features will make the world of programming a much better place. It will affect an enormous body of developers in all sectors using the platform in that it will give them better development environments and higher level languages to work with. The ability to make software that is more adaptive and malleable is greatly improved by the changes that JSR 292aims to bring about. Such software makes things better for both the developers, who have more fun, and end users, who get better software."
Gilad is not kidding when he says achieving the full feature set is going to be tough, a quest for the "holy grail." He's also serious about his commitment to the project, posing it as "the most important thing I've ever done for Sun. This JSR is very strategic for the Java platform. Dynamically typed languages, especially scripting languages, are destined to play an increasingly important role."
Linda DeMichiel's experience with the JCP program dates back to 1999. She is a veteran Spec Lead, having guided the development of JSR 19 Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB) 2.0, JSR 153 EJB 2.1, and JSR 220 EJB 3.0. She is a senior architect in the Java Enterprise Edition (EE) Platform group at Sun Microsystems and Sun's chief architect for Enterprise JavaBeans and the Java Persistence API.Her recognized technical expertise stems from 15 years of experience in the areas of databases, object persistence, distributed computing, and object-oriented systems. She holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford University.
Candidates line up to join her Expert Group, so that she must filter out the potential Experts rather than actively recruit them. That is just one indicator that the JCP community is anticipating the latest EJB developments. Another sign of developers' enthusiasm is their willingness to offer constructive feedback on the review drafts of the Specification. Developers also comment positively whenever Linda speaks about EJB at conferences such as JavaPolis, JAX, and TheServerSide Java Symposium. She says, "I've never been on a JSR that has gotten such tremendous feedback from the community, and we take that input quite seriously."
The scope of EJB 3.0 is massive, including about 800 pages of spec--500 of which were necessarily included from earlier releases in order to preserve backwards compatibility. To get things done, Linda takes a team approach, allowing aspects of the work to be driven by Experts who are willing to drive proposals in certain areas. She builds consensus among the diverse group of Experts slowly but surely, participating in conference calls and individual calls. Phone calls take a lot of time, but in the long run, Linda finds that they are often more efficient.
Before assuming responsibility for EJB, Linda led the team that implemented Sun's first object/relational persistence product, and she worked earlier at IBM Almaden Research Center on object/relational extensions to both DB2 and the SQL99 standard. Linda has also represented Sun Microsystems as an Expert Group member on JSRs 26, 107, 207, and 225.
View information on all of the 2006 JCP Program Annual Awards here.
Link to JCP Program Awards home.