--Simon St.Laurent on the xml-dev mailing list
The JCP may feel like an 'open' process if you're a mammoth, or even if you're a reasonably well-off sabre-toothed tiger, but to us small mammals, it's the same old s***, different day, that we get from standards organizations. We get to run around among the mammoths and sabre-toothed tigers wearing funny lenses that blur our vision and working with tools that may not have been created with our needs in mind.
The price of _joining_ the process (as a partner, where it appears you do have more influence) is even more irritating because Sun is, after all, a vendor. If I really wanted to give Sun Microsystems a sizable check, I'd expect at least a Sparc 5 with a huge monitor to show up in return. Giving Sun $5000 so this poor company can manage a not-so-open process ('Process Cost Sharing') is ridiculous.
Given that $5000 pays all my expenses for a few months, the cost to small business and self-employed folks is outrageous. I'd love to participate in the process as a 'full' member, contributing time (which costs me something too), the standard currency for open source and open process participation, rather than a large sum of money that goes nowhere.
I was a little surprised to see that in the last couple of days I've gotten two notes about proposals for major extensions to Java that received little or no press. Yet these didn't seem to get much attention elsewhere. I did a little digging and discovered that there are fifteen proposals for equally large changes to Java already in the works. Some of these changes seem like good ideas (a new preferences API). Some are probably very bad ideas (a Sun-controlled standard XML API) and some are of interest only to niche markets (a telephone switching API).As of April 25, 1999, there are five open Java Specification Requests (JSRs):
Twelve of the fifteen JSRs were submitted by Sun.
If it seems a little strange that all of this work is going on behind closed doors without significant public input or awareness of its existence, that's the Java Community Process at work. The JCP is Sun's new procedure for adding to Java with input from its major commercial partners. The "Community" is comprised of companies who are willing to pay Sun $2000-$5000 a year to belong, as well as Sun's Java commercial licensees who pay even more to license the JDK source code. This is very much a gated community designed to keep out the riff-raff like you and me and let Sun run things the way it sees fit. The process works like this:
To me this makes it pretty clear, that this process is not an open one. If you're still not convinced, ask yourself these questions:
When you actually read the fine print, what the Java Community Process says is that Sun agrees to let other companies contribute their time, money, and knowledge to help Sun do what it wants to do anyway. That may be intelligent business, but it's not an open, community based process for developing standards.