The JCP election are out. What do they tell us?
JCP election results 2010
The JCP election results are now available.
In the ratified seats (were Oracle chooses who stands), Apache was confirmed by 95% of voters and Red Hat by 87%. Hologic was not ratified, receiving only 33% yes votes. For ME, all three companies were ratified (although the web page indicates that TOTVS only got 49%, which if true means they should not have been ratified - something that needs clarification - Update: see Patrick Curran's comment for the valid explanation).
In the open elections (any JCP member can stand), Google (33%) and Eclipse (27%) were elected, with Bob Lee not elected in third (21%). For ME, Aplix (30%) and Stefano Andreani (27%) were elected. (Note that each voter received 2 votes for SE and ME in this phase, so its slightly unclear what the percentages mean. I'd assume that Google was supported by 66% of voters, but this isn't clear)
As Hologic was not ratified, Oracle will now nominate a new candidate for ratification. They could choose Bob Lee as the runner up in the open vote.
One key issue not previously mentioned is turnout.
Of 1286 registered voters, only 18% actually voted - about 232 people/companies.
In 2007 turnout was 33%, in 2008 it was 26%, in 2009 it was 21%.
So, less than 250 people/companies (JCP members can be either) actually voted on the organisation that holds the power to decide the future of Java. With up to 10 million Java developers out there, this really is a tiny number. In fact, more people voted in the latest Java.net poll.
While I'm sure the legal paperwork of membership puts any off joining, the truth is that even those that had joined failed to vote. Of course we will never know why.
These were controversial elections, partly because of the upcoming Java SE 7 vote, partly because the JCP was described as "no longer a credible specification and standards body" by Doug Lea and partly because I saw signs of Oracle sharp practice.
In the end, my interpretation of "stacking the election" was addressed by Adam Messinger of Oracle:
So, did I call Hologic right or wrong?
When I saw Hologic's name on the ratification ballot my first response was surprise. Then suspicion. Why had a company that no-one had heard of been put up to be one of the core guardians of Java SE, EE and the community?
Given the importance of the JCP vote to come, and the surrounding controversy, I wanted to know more. It wsn't hard to find the close relationship between Hologic and Oracle. And I called it as I saw it.
Adam's explanation in terms of broadening the JCP EC representation away from technology companies is sound enough. However I would have to ask what would make any one company, like Hologic, any more or less relevant than another? Ultimately, the electors agreed that Hologic should not be on the JCP EC, although we cannot know how much of that was due to the closeness to Oracle (that I pointed out) and how much was due to a general concern that they simply were an inappropriate company to be on the JCP EC.
The net effect of this is a sense that technology companies are better placed to provide the detailed technical direction needed for Java.
But that analysis also calls into question the role of Credit Suisse and individuals.
I think the difference with Credit Suisse is that they are a known company and are presumed to have a significant hard core Java operation (most banks push Java to the limit in places). And good individuals provide a key role in balancing the political nature of companies (which is why it was sad to see Doug Lea go and Bob Lee not to be elected).
For the future, it looks as though the Java SE 7 vote will pass. With the inability to get a valid testing suite for Apache Harmony finally confirmed, there may yet be further changes in the JCP. Fundamentally, it can reform (as per my #splitjcp compromise proposal or another similar proposal), or continue to be seen as irrelevant by many like me.
Either way, there needs to be more engagement of the wider community of developers beyond the apathetic JCP membership. If the most contested and discussed election in JCP history cannot increase the turnout, then maybe root and branch changes really are needed - and might in fact be welcomed.
Less than 250 JCP members (18% turnout) have made their choices, deciding the fate of Java. Apache, Red Hat, Google and Eclipse were elected. Hologic and Bob Lee were not.
Is this the best way to receive community feedback? Somehow it doesn't feel like it. Once again I'm encouraged to push for radical JCP reform.
Apache Software Foundation member, speaking personally
Oracle Java Champion, speaking personally
Not a committer on Harmony or OpenJDK