Last week, Oracle announced their intentions to open Java EE and transfer it to an open source foundation to continue its development in a more open way. I’ve been involved in some email discussions (here and here) and in a conference call organized by Oracle and I want to summarize what I know and expect in the future. I’m also a MicroProfile project member, so I’ll comment on its relation and future benefits to Java EE.
Opening the process of Java EE development and moving it under an open source foundation is certainly a good news. I’m hopeful that this will finally address many concerns that the community and vendors have had with the current process in the past years, frequently having called for improvements. I appreciate that the process within the JCP has been very open compared to the development of other similar standards or frameworks and that the JCP is evolving in a good and promising direction. But the process is still driven mostly by Oracle and involves many administrative and legal obstacles to community contributions. The collaboration within the Java EE community and most vendors is maturing much faster, in a more and more open and agile way, and the JCP processes and Oracle’s leadership of Java EE is still too far behind, only catching up with this trend. I credit Oracle my respect that they’ve realized and admitted this and they decided to transfer the platform into an open foundation, which would be more ready to support the way the Java EE community wants to progress.
It’s also very promising that Oracle is very open to discussion about the future direction of the Java EE platform, inviting respected partners and members of the community to join a call to discuss Oracle’s intentions and answer questions. On this call, some concerns were raised, especially about the continuity of the platform after it’s transferred to an independent foundation. It’s still uncertain whether the platform can retain its current name Java EE due to trademark licenses and whether the API can evolve continually without breaking changes, again due to license issues. But Oracle seems to be very open and cooperative to resolve these concerns and my hope is that the Java EE platform will be transferred without significant harm. Another thing to keep in mind is that Oracle admitted that their leadership in Java EE development will decrease a lot, becoming just a regular contributor like many others. I can certainly understand that because Oracle’s been investing heavily in leading most of the Java EE specifications and the current process hasn’t allowed delegating most of that work because of legal issues. Moving to a foundation will distribute the responsibility for the platform equally among all that benefit from it. This means that with freedom will also come responsibility and the community and vendors will need to invest a lot more into Java EE development than they’ve used to. But I wouldn’t be afraid, because the community is already doing this at different levels, most notably within the Eclipse MicroProfile project. For some open source projects like Payara, which shares a lot of code with the GlassFish reference implementation, or DeltaSpike, which provides lots of useful extensions to Java EE, it would be even a lot easier to contribute than now.
I can say that the community and vendors are looking forward to more open collaboration with fewer restrictions. The Eclipse Microprofile project, supported by many Java EE community members and Java EE vendors, already proves that the community is prepared to embrace the platform within an open foundation. The MicroProfile project started as an open initiative to move enterprise Java forward, with focus on delivering the functionality in a very open way and leaving any legal matters as an afterthought, which was welcomed by the community. The Eclipse Foundation then did their best to provide a solid legal and collaboration foundation. This is again a proof that a development platform like Java EE can be safely transferred and continue to thrive under an opensource foundation. MicroProfile is based on Java EE foundations and initiated from discussions within the Java EE community, so both have a lot in common. In my view, MicroProfile can be used as an example of how an API platform can be adopted by an open source foundation, namely the Eclipse Foundation. Java EE can benefit from MicroProfile even more, with MicroProfile providing more agile platform for experimenting with ideas that can be adopted by Java EE when matured. In fact, this is not only a promise but it’s already happening, as the Eclipse Foundation submitted a MicroProfile JSR to the JCP with the aim to become a part of a future Java EE version.
Compared to some rather unpopular things that Oracle did in the past, like shutting down the java.net community portal, it seems that they are doing the right thing now. I believe that the community will hugely benefit from Oracle’s recent plans and that Java EE will thrive under an open source foundation in harmony with the existing Eclipse MicroProfile project.
Oracle’s announced that they have chosen the Eclipse Foundation to transfer Java EE to. This is a very natural choice for Java EE and is very welcome by the Java EE and MicroProfile communities.