Java 7 Vote
Stephen Colebourne correctly pointed out in his blog this morning that when the Java 7 JSR is proposed to the JCP Executive Committee, that the Eclipse Foundation will vote “yes”. I think that it would be helpful to explain why that is the case.
First, some history. The Eclipse Foundation has been on the JCP EC for three years. The dispute between Apache and Sun (now Oracle) regarding proposed field-of-use (FOU) restrictions placed on Apache Harmony predates our tenure. At every opportunity during those three years we have supported Apache’s position, including explaining to corporate representatives why this is such a big deal for an open source community. We agree that Apache Harmony should have received an unencumbered TCK license and our votes consistently supported various resolutions on this matter.
However, the time has come to move on.
For over three years now, Java has been stagnating as a language and a platform. As I said a few days ago, they “…have been years of stalemate, lack of innovation and lost opportunities.” At some point this lack of progress becomes an existential question. If Java does not start to progress as a platform, it will die. It has already suffered an enormous loss of momentum.
It is really important to understand that the JCP EC does not have the power to grant Apache a TCK license, only Oracle can do that. If the JCP had the power, Apache would have had their TCK years ago. So at its essence, this is a contract dispute between the Apache Software Foundation and Sun Microsystems (now Oracle). There are only three ways that this intractable dispute can be resolved:
- Oracle caves. Well, we all know that’s not going to happen. Sun did not cave for three years, and Oracle has made it abundantly clear that they’re not going to. If IBM couldn’t find some leverage, I don’t see how the open source communities will.
- Apache sues. Even if Apache had the resources, I am guessing their legal counsel would advise against it. Lawsuits are legal warfare, with all of the potential for unintended consequences and collateral damage that statement implies.
- We move on. Realistically, this is the only option left. As much as continuing the fight appeals to the heart I cannot see how this dispute will ever reach closure. Although I certainly understand the natural inclination to want to continue the struggle against the slings and arrows of corporate behaviour, I just honestly believe that at this point it is beyond reasonableness to do so.
Note that our position is not making any assumptions about the future of Apache Harmony. Hopefully others will step in and carry the project forward. But that is not an argument for continuing the impasse blocking the future of the Java platform.
Therefore, we are going to vote based on the technical merits of Java 7. From our point of view “Plan B” defines the logical next steps for the Java platform. Java 8 is a different story and left for another blog post.