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Individual and Corporation Share Determination to Ensure JCP Ongoing Success

The Executive Committee is prepared to benefit from the perspective of both an individual contributor and a corporate entity.

Alex Terrazas, elected to the open ME EC seat as an individual representative, has a PhD in Psychology and Neural Systems. He has used Java ME technology to develop software for special education and health applications. Alex’s involvement is already reshaping some of his views. "Developers may be frustrated with the direction of ME, but Alex is convinced that feature phones, sensors, and other small devices are still a big part of the future of computing. He sees Android’s rapid release “of new versions with a lot of surprises” as a problem in that “developers are going to get very tired of the fragmentation in the smart phone space. The embedded space will especially benefit from Write Once Run Anywhere.

Alex has been a member of the JSR 34, Java Advanced Imaging API 1.1 Expert Group. For the past 15 years, he has been an Observer, keeping up with as many Java initiatives as possible. “The JCP is the place to see where Java is going next,” he says. Recently, having licensed some technology that he had developed, Alex found himself with a couple of years available to do whatever he wanted. “I have always had a real love of the Java programming language. When I saw the opportunity to have an impact on the future of Java, I thought that I had a good opportunity to learn and contribute.”

Alex sees himself as an “outsider with few biases or self interests. I am bringing a fresh set of eyes to some problems that have been festering for some time. I feel I might be able to separate those issues that are not so serious -- but continue to hold us back -- from those issues that are serious and need to be addressed first.” His project management experience and ability to craft a readable document might come in handy, too. Moreover, if JSRs are like research grant proposals, then Alex has the experience of having written dozens of them and of reviewing thousands more.

“The importance of the JCP is what it has always been -- a deliberative body that helps put the brakes on splintering of the language,” says Alex, who has learned to value a somewhat slower speed if the result is a better product. “Developers might become frustrated with the deliberative nature of the process, but taking a step back and getting the votes together is very worthwhile,” he adds. “As a young scientist when I first started to apply for grants, I thought, ‘Why do I have to jump through all these hoops just to do some research?’ As I matured, I realized that, while not always right, grant reviewers have a lot of good suggestions for making my research better. The JCP process is a lot like that.”

Alex maintains that the biggest problem and opportunity facing the ME EC is whether and how to merge with the SE/EE EC. A second problem has to do with educating developers about what ME can accomplish. He says, “I had the wrong perception that Java ME was strictly for phones. Embedded systems are going to explode in the near future to be in everything from cars to people. Java ME can really help developers create cool products in this space.”

Alex is also concerned about “an assault on Java ME from Android, such that a responsive JCP is more important than ever. Those of us who develop for Android wish that there was more deliberation and less fragmentation. Developers are becoming frustrated with maintaining multiple versions for different devices and the surprises they are finding.” Alex doesn’t think more is necessarily better, saying, “Apple gives us two basic devices. Developers want Write Once Run Anywhere.”

Alex thinks some adjustments should be made, but he’s generally satisfied with the JCP program as is. “I would like to see the JCP continue to do what it has always done. For the most part, I don't think anything is severely broken. There may be some tweaking that needs to take place, particularly with respect to process, inclusion, transparency, and agility. There may be some perceived (mostly) problems for developers who think Java will be completely beholden to Oracle, but, for the most part, I think there is reason for optimism.”

Goldman Sachs is represented by John Weir on the SE/EE EC’s ratified seat. As CTO of the Operations Technology Business Unit at Goldman Sachs, John oversees the architecture, build, and technical strategy of over 1,000 developers, who write primarily in the Java language, at six global sites.

An active Java developer himself, John has seen the company’s relationship with the JCP program shift recently. “We have been members of the JCP for quite a few years but have not been actively involved in the JSR process as leads or contributors. However, given our focus on Java technology within the firm, we felt that the passive position wasn’t reflective of our commitment to the platform and we wanted to change that.”

Goldman Sachs’ bid for an SE/EE EC seat signifies a leap up in their involvement. According to John Weir, “Taking a seat on the EC and committing to the work and effort involved is a public way of not only showing our support, but also actually ‘rolling up our sleeves’ and getting into the debate around the process and the future of the platform.” Because Goldman Sachs develops most of the business software they use in-house, the financial firm has nurtured a highly collaborative, thoughtful approach to regularly defining and refining their own technology biases. Most of their senior technologists are leading thinkers in disciplines across the entire technology spectrum. John says, “We want to be able to bring this expertise pool to the active review of the various JSRs that are being presented to the JCP for comment, and, with our very strong commercial focus, to provide feedback to the relevant Expert Groups.”

Because the large scale of the operation pushes the boundaries of the Java ecosystem, Goldman Sachs also brings a slightly different perspective to the JCP deliberations. John adds, “Demand for more scale drives innovation in, for example, cloud computing and storage. Our large internal developers group makes us want to drive very crisp and practical implementations of the JSRs, and our large code corpus allows us to opine effectively on whether the often more intellectual debates around the backwards compatibility in some of the JSRs in review are realized in the commercial world.”

Goldman Sachs believes the JCP is currently somewhat undervalued with regards to the consistency that it has brought to the Java ecosystem. “The platform has grown significantly since its inception, and JCP has been fundamental to that success,” John says. “However, there is definitely a perception that it has become somewhat unwieldy, and the complexity of steering that evolution has gotten more difficult.” In order to regain its status, John feels “the JCP now needs to be refocused on managing the larger platform, bolder in removing deprecated APIs, and nimbler in adoption of concepts going forward. As such its significance to the industry has never been more important. What got us here won’t get us there.”

With the JCP.Next (JSR 348) initiative, the EC will operate as an Expert Group to decide what the next version of the JCP program will look like. Goldman Sachs believes the JCP.Next effort is the right place for the EC to focus. “We are very supportive of the motivation for that work. It is going to dominate the immediate agenda and needs to be done quickly. If the evolution occurs, the JCP program will remain core to the platform’s future,” John says. He believes JCP.Next -- “the unification of the ECs, an improved process to bring new capabilities to the platform sooner; a predictable metronome around versions; and better lifecycle management on the state of the ‘in-flight’ JSRs -- will keep the Java ecosystem healthy when coupled with greater transparency across each of these facets.”

Goldman Sachs remains deeply committed to the Java platform and wants to see it continue to evolve and develop. John says, “We would like the JCP processes be more transparent with regards to progress on the various JSRs and for the JCP to continue to factor standards from the innovation in the community. We will be supportive of the various JSRs which have that as an objective.”