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Sun opens up Java process

Java steward Sun Microsystems is proposing changes to the standardization process for the programming language to create greater visibility and participation.

Java steward Sun Microsystems is proposing changes to the Java standardization process to create greater visibility and participation.

Sun said Thursday that the managing board of the Java Community Process (JCP) has advised changes that will allow external groups to view planned enhancements to new Java specifications and submit feedback before they are finalized. The JCP is the set of procedures by which companies submit and collaborate on improvements to the specifications, or base blueprints, for Java software.

The goal of the proposed changes, called the JCP version 2.6, is to facilitate interaction among people and hasten Java-related standardization, Onno Kluyt, the director of the JCP's program management office, said in a statement. There are 28 companies that are involved developing changes to the standardization process.

The planned changes would created a new type of member called an "expert group observer" who would have input to technical committees during the development of new Java capabilities. So-called expert groups take on specific feature enhancements within the overall Java improvement process.

The work of the different expert groups will also be publicly available earlier, including technical details and expected completion dates.

An efficient mechanism to build on the Java specifications is important to growing the number of developers who work with the Java language, according to analysts. Large companies, including Oracle, BEA Systems and IBM, that sell tools based on Java depend on improvements in in the language to compete with Microsoft's line of programming products, including its flagship tool, Visual Studio.Net.

Critics of JCP have complained that too many Java specification improvements have addressed very complex programming scenarios rather than been focused on the more pressing need to simplify Java development. Sun and other Java tools companies, such as IBM and BEA Systems, are introducing tools and enhancements to the Java specification to ease programming andbroaden the population of Java developers.