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The Java Community Process is meant to be just that. A process where the Java community can have its say on the future of the language.

What is the best way to get involved in the JCP?

A JSR (Java Specification Request) goes through various stages in its life cycle. Obviously if you are domain expert with deep knowledge of a subject then you would want to get involved in a relevant JSR at a very early stage. However, what stage is the best to get involved at if you are a likely end user (as a developer) of the JSR but are not the above mentioned domain expert?

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At the risk of sounding negative, it seems to me that the purpose of JCP is to give the community the illusion of having a say in the future of the language, while carefully ensuring against anything of the sort. Ultimately, Oracle and only Oracle has any real authority or decision making ability. – Jerry Coffin May 17 '11 at 15:46
A common perception. I don't know if the facts back it up, but equally I don't know if they would disagree with it. – Kevin D May 17 '11 at 15:54
Lack of real authority is a fact, not a perception -- at most, those outside Oracle have influence. I think Executive Committee membership indicates that influence depends more on money than technical background. Although there are some technically oriented companies, there are (for example) Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse, but not even one university. While universities certainly aren't the sole bastion of technical expertise, I think this still gives a fair idea: money means a lot more to them than any degree of technical expertise. – Jerry Coffin May 17 '11 at 17:02
I just want to be clear I wasn't disagreeing, or arguing. Merely stating I didn't know enough to judge. – Kevin D May 17 '11 at 17:05
@Kevin D: Right -- I was just trying to point out a few of the facts that formed the basis of my opinion/conclusion. My conclusion is an opinion, but I think it's based in fact, not just wild speculation. – Jerry Coffin May 17 '11 at 17:07
up vote 2 down vote accepted


I co-lead the London Java Community (LJC) aka the London Java User Group (JUG). We recently (last week!) were the first JUG to be elected to an open seat on the Java Standard Edition/Enterprise Edition Executive Committee (Java SE/EE EC in short).

Become a JCP member

You can become a JCP individual member very easily and you can also join as part of a corporate, academic, non-profit or JUG organisation. This is the first step you should take to get involved. It's actually very easy to join, see the JCP home page for instructions

It's not as easy to get involved in a JSR as we'd like

Currently it can be quite difficult to get involved in the average JSR. Under existing rules, parts or even all of a JSR can effectively be run in private, making it impossible for outsiders to join. Most JSRs run at least partly in the open, but several don't.

There is also a tendency to come up with a Technical Compatibility Test (TCK) and Reference Implementation (RI) quite late in the piece, which doesn't allow the wider community to actually 'play' with the proposed JSR and give meaningful feedback.

Some JSRs are simply just deeply technical and difficult and only real experts can get involved early on, but that's just the nature of the beast of something like JSR-292 (invokedynamic byecode for the JVM).

But you should still jump on in

That said there are several JSRs which are run in the open and do solicit feedback with early RI's and TCKs. Please visit the JCP home page and browse through the JSRs on the left hand menu. Each JSR page will list their public mailing lists, issue trackers etc. Simply join the mailing list, say hello and ask how you can help out (even though you're not necessarily a domain expert).

JSR-107 (Caching) is an example of a recently revived JSR that's running out in the open and is happy to receive help (big and small) from Java enthusiasts.

Things are about to get a lot better!

This is a massive time of change in the Java ecosystem and during times of change you have the best chance to positively influence the outcome.

  • Oracle is working very hard to make the JCP and JSRs more open. Despite much anti-Oracle publicity, they really are trying hard (see JSR-348 comments below). Sure, there's still plenty of areas that we'd like to see Oracle change (and we'll be advocating for those), but they do engage in dialogue and seem genuinely willing to listen.

  • For the first time, two JUGs are on the EC (us & SouJava - The Brazilian JUG). This means that the world wide developer community (9-10 million) has direct representation for the first time

  • JSR-348 has just been announced which is going to take great strides to open up the JCP, the Expert Groups (EGs) and just the overall ecosystem of standards. We implore you to get involved and send in feedback, whether its to us, your local JUG leader or through hte official JCP channels (see the contact us on at

  • The LJC and many other EC and EG members are very firmly in the camp of making JSRs more accessible to everyone. As well as enforcing openness via JSR-348, we also see a very real chance to have each JSR really engage with the community. We're going to try and work with JSR EGs to see how we can raise their profile, make them really easy to access etc. Something along the lines of running a successful open source project is what we're looking at.

Phew, long answer, but I'm really excited about the future :)

Cheers, Martijn (co-leader LJC - @karianna)

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Just a couple of notes: JSR-348 is certainly encouraging, but at least currently says a lot more about goals that ways to achieve them. The user's groups, at most, only directly represent their members. The rest of the world gets (at most) rather indirect representation. While even indirect representation seems to be a real improvement, let's not mis-represent (no pun intended) what is. – Jerry Coffin May 17 '11 at 18:53
JSR-348 is only in its first proposed stage, there's definitely some detail required and also room for improvement. Drop me a line with your thoughts and ideas and we'll get moving! – Martijn Verburg May 18 '11 at 8:09
At least to me, it's too late. Java has been in use far too long now to make nearly as radical of changes as it would need for me to find it at all attractive (if I did have a voice in the matter, even I would probably vote against them at this point). Hopefully others will take you up on your offer though. – Jerry Coffin May 18 '11 at 16:02
@Jerry Coffin - Don't forget that Java (the language) is only a small part of the Java ecosystem that the JCP oversees with regards to standards. The JVM now allows all sorts of amazing languages and tech to be built on top of it, and there are a number of JSRs which affect those. I hope to see you back at some stage! :) – Martijn Verburg May 18 '11 at 18:08

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