Monday 20 December 2010

The Deal

This is the story of a deal. Not one that was ever signed on a piece of paper. But one that was still very important. Its the deal between the owner of Java and the Community.

The Deal

This is my view about how the owner of Java and the Community have interacted:

The owner of Java makes a large investment.
The community makes it relevant.

By "owner of Java", I mean Sun, then Oracle.
By large investment, I mean money, development time, marketing and energy.
By relevant, I mean interesting and productive for mass use.

The key point is that this is a symbiotic relationship. The investment by the owner is worth much, much less if the language is not relevant. And the community needs an actively developed core and common set of rules to build upon.

When you consider the limited nature of the core of Java, this should be self evident. The core consists of the JVM, compiler, language and core libraries. Enough to get everyone started, but not that interesting in and of itself.

What is interesting about "Java" is everything else:

Servlets, JMS, Tomcat, JBoss, Lucene, JMX, Eclipse, Ant, Portlets, Lombok, Devoxx, Javalobby, Axis, JIRA, RESTEasy, Terracotta, Ivy, JSP, TestNG, Grails, Mule, Android, ICU4J, MyFaces, Scala, James, Geronimo, JCS, OFBiz, Jetty, GWT, Websphere, JFreeChart, JavaMail, FastUtil, Xerces, JDBC, Griffon, JProbe, SLF4J, Wicket, XOM, JavaOne, Seam, Emma, HttpClient, EHCache, TheServerSide, Roo, Mockito, HSQL, Guice, FOP, Kindle, Velocity, Clojure, JNDI, Clover, Hadoop, JSF, Jackrabbit, Livescribe pen, Commons, Hibernate, EJB, Tobago, IntelliJ, Jersey, Scalaz, HornetQ, JAX-RS, Lift, Derby, JUnit, Freemarker, JavaME, Mylyn, Gaelyk, MINA, Play, JBPM, Cobertura, Antlr, Artima, Findbugs, Hessian, OGNL, Quartz, Trove, Tales, Javolution, Weblogic, Spring, Maven, QCon, Guava, JPA, Colt, Zing, Pico, JAXB, Applets, Struts, Groovy, JavaFX, Log4J, BluRay, Glassfish, Tapestry, JavaRanch, JRoller, Fusion, Excelsior JET, JAX-WS, BIRT, JDOM, Yourkit, SmartCard, JTA, Fantom, Gradle, Netbeans, OSGi, CXF, JSTL, ActiveMQ, JEDI, Camel, JRuby, ServiceMix, Jython, Joda-Time, and many, many more!

It is a huge ecosystem - with a gigantic community

The investment by Sun, now Oracle, is miniscule compared to that of the rest of the community. Essential and vital, but miniscule.

And that is The Deal! The investment by Sun/Oracle (which is increasing under Oracle) is a whole lot less valuable if the community and ecosystem is destroyed. And that is why the recent Java Community Process debates really matter.

In order to function, there needs to be a safe base for everyone to work off. This has for many years been investment from Sun/Oracle moderated via the Java Community Process. But that deal has hit a major roadblock in the last few months.

The crazy part is that by damaging the community, Oracle's actions damage themselves! As The Deal indicates, Oracle's current increased investment, and the pushing forward of Java 7 and 8, is of limited value if the community and ecosystem ebbs away and ceases to make the platform relevant.

The lawsuits and JCP actions simply serve to push that community away, creating distrust. Some in the Oracle management chain need to think again about what community and ecosystem really means.

Sometimes it means taking decisions that are against the immediate and obvious business benefit in order to keep the community and ecosystem happy and productive, gaining a bigger business benefit later.

The message is simple. Everyone in the community and ecosystem, from the biggest company to the smallest individual matters. Even those who might be classified as "enemies" or "competition" are in fact business partners who are vital to Oracle's investment in Java.

That's what a symbiotic relationship means. And what The Deal summarises.

Stephen Colebourne
Personal opinion about the state of the Java community


  1. What's with Closure and OFBiz? (They are mentioned twice)

  2. @, That was very eagle-eyed! Fixed now.

  3. I have great respect for your tries to improve the current situation, but isn't it frustrating being ignored by Oracle?

  4. The strategy of Google (and others) seems to be injecting uncertainty into the community until Oracle realizes that they are the curators of the Java ecosystem, rather than its owners.

    Unfortunately, the community is collateral damage in this power struggle. As the fight continues, the more uncertainty is injected, which means less investment is made by the community. The community wins only if one side or the other concedes.

    What Oracle needs to realize is that Google loses big so long as Oracle doesn't concede, which means that Oracle should not expect the pressure to relent. Yeah, this is a form of hostage taking, and I understand Oracle wanting to nip this kind of stuff in the bud, despite their pre-acquisition stance. I just don't see Oracle's current stance being a good long-term strategy. Forgiveness (and forgetfulness) on the part of the community will be bought only with the success of new releases, which is unsustainable.

  5. You need to get over your persecution complex against Sun/Oracle.

    Seriously, your paranoia over the stewardship of Java is astonishing.


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