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The Two Sides of Progress
Guest Opinion by Onno Kluyt

Posted May 8, 2006

Onno Kluyt

A lot is being said and written about standards and innovation in technology: standards are a roadblock to innovation because the process of standardization is too slow to capture innovation in a timely manner, and standards are more about politics than technology. In fact, across the industry there is plenty of evidence of how standards and innovation work together to advance technology. Being closest to the Java Community Process (JCP), I know that this community has accomplished a marvelous thing: redefining standards and innovation as the sides of the same process—progress. Let's look at a few Java Specification Requests (JSRs) that I encourage you to check out for yourself at the technical sessions (TS), hands-on labs (LAB), and birds-of-a-feather (BOF) sessions at the 2006 JavaOne Conference in San Francisco.

Let's begin with JSR 245, JavaServer Pages (JSP), and JSR 252, JavaServer Faces (JSF) 1.2 (LAB-4255 and BOF-2311). JSR 245 is the next revision of the JSP specification, and it improves alignment with JSF and enhances ease of development. Similarly, JSR 252 updates the 1.1 version of the JSF specification. These JSRs provide good examples of how standards build on standards and prepare and inspire innovation. They also demonstrate how innovation is worked into platform standards as the so-called umbrella JSRs, including JSR 244, Java EE 5.


For another example of advances at the standards-innovation intersection, there's JSR 224, JAX-WS (TS-1194). The major focus of this standard is ease of development to allow the technology to be used by a wide circle of developers and simplify their tasks. The specification extends JAX-RPC in a number of ways including alignment with JSR 181, Web Services Metadata for the Java Platform. You’ll also find out how the spec strongly aligns with JSR 222, Java Architecture for XML Binding (JAXB) 2.0 (TS-1607), to which it delegates all data binding-related tasks and how it supports new versions of external standards from organizations such as W3C and WS-I.

Another JSR-based session for JSR 286, Portlet Specification 2.0 (TS-3627) and headed by IBM, showcases the functionality that will be added to the new portlet specifications. This API advances and will be binary compatible with version 1.0 defined in JSR 168. If you want to find out how a standard developed today seeds innovation, attend the Java Module System (BOF-0684) session that is targeted to be delivered as a component of Java SE 7.0 ("Dolphin"). The Sun-developed specification sets out to define a distribution format and a repository for collections of Java code and related resources as well as discovery, loading, and integrity mechanisms at runtime.

JSR 220, EJB 3.0, is another example of how standards and innovation find a way to build on the strengths co-leads Sun and Oracle bring to the table and as a result cause progress to happen. One of the results this JSR has yielded is a simplified persistence architecture. Key features of the Java Persistence API (TS-3395) will be highlighted, including those introduced since the publication of the JSR 220 public draft.

Platform JSRs like JSR 270, Java SE 6 Mustang Release Contents, are a special case of close interplay between standards and innovation. An umbrella JSR builds on the sum of innovations provided by the so-called point JSRs, and scripting features in Java SE 6, including the scripting APIs and the JavaScript ScriptEngine, will be presented (TS-1382).

IBM and BEA, co-leads of JSR 235, Service Data Objects (SDO), will present how developers will be able to simplify data access and representation in service-oriented software by replacing data access models with a uniform abstraction for creating, retrieving, updating, and deleting business data used by service implementations (TS-3676). The SDO specification currently under development standardizes data objects in terms of change history, compound data objects, dynamic and generated APIs, metadata, support for XML and Web services, neutral representation of business data, import/export from common formats, validation and constraints, relationship integrity, and navigation.

Java ME is where perhaps the most obvious advances fueled by community-driven standardization and innovation is occurring. Two spec leads from Nokia team up to present the recently finalized JSR 256, Mobile Sensor API (BOF-2810), which defines basic sensor functionality for mobile devices and extends the usability and choice of sensors for Java ME applications. A perfect example of interplay between standardization and innovation is JSR 248, Mobile Service Architecture (TS-4936), developed by Nokia and Vodafone, that creates a mobile service architecture and platform definition for high-volume wireless handsets. JSR 232, Mobile Operational Management (TS-3757), led by Motorola and Nokia, is the topic of an introduction to this spec under development and the benefits it sets out to pass on to developers. And co-leads Nokia and Motorola of JSR 272, Mobile Broadcast Service API for Handheld Terminals (TS-4693), will present the features of this set of APIs.

These are just a handful of examples of the symbiotic nature of innovation and standards. At the JavaOne conference you'll be able to see this system in action. Also visit the JCP.org to get the latest on innovating Java technology.

About the Author
Onno Kluyt is chair of the JCP.

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