Oracle's Stewardship of Java

With its acquisition of Sun Microsystems in 2010, Oracle also acquired the ownership and stewardship of Java. More than 9 million developers use Java to create applications for everything from smart cards and smart phones to enterprise servers and the cloud. Java powers more than 4,500 branded products and runs on 97 percent of enterprise desktop computers and 100 percent of Blu-ray devices.

Java user groups are active all over the world.

Over the past two years, Oracle's stewardship of Java has focused on three goals: advancing Java technology, expanding community participation in the definition of Java standards, and growing the Java ecosystem of developers and end users.

Advancing the Technology

Java is not just a programming language; it is also one of the leading software development platforms for building innovative applications in industries as diverse as finance, healthcare, government, entertainment, retail, and agriculture. The basis of that software development platform is the Java Development Kit (JDK).This integrated set of tools, utilities and class libraries is the most popular software development kit (SDK) in the Java ecosystem.

The most notable achievement of Oracle's two-year stewardship of Java is the 2011 release of the JDK 7.0, the first new version in five years. Development of JDK 7.0 had been stalled, but under Oracle's leadership movement resumed. "During the last couple of years with Sun at the helm, it was obvious that there wasn't a lot of investment going on in Java," explains Mike Millinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Project. "There was also a stalemate regarding moving forward with Java 7 at the Java Community Process Executive Committee level. When Oracle took over at the helm, we got going again."

Expanding Participation

The Java Community Process (JCP) is an open, public process through which the Java community defines the future of the technology—including JDK 7.0 and subsequent releases—through Java Specification Requests (JSRs). These formal documents describe proposed technologies that are added to the Java platform after public reviews and voting.

One of Oracle's chief goals for Java has been to open the JCP to as many participants as possible in order to ensure that all interested stakeholders—implementers, users, and developers—can participate directly in the evolution of Java. The organization now has hundreds of members including commercial organizations, non-profits, Java user-groups, and individuals.

Oracle has also broadened the JCP's governance by involving the users as well as the implementers of Java technologies. Recent additions to the JCP's Executive Committee have included firms with large internal Java engineering groups such as Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse, and Java user-groups such as the London Java Community and SouJava.

"We've worked hard over the past couple of years to make the process more open and transparent," says Patrick Curran, chair of the JCP. "The new JCP 2.8 process requires expert groups to operate transparently so that all members of the Java community can see what is happening and participate in the development of new JSRs. The results will be more developer-friendly specifications and fewer surprises for those who implement or work with them."

Along with encouraging more JCP participation, Oracle is actively pushing forward the development of the Java SE platform with increased participation from the OpenJDK project. Oracle is committed to OpenJDK as the best open-source Java implementation and actively promotes community contribution to the project. Today there are more than 30 OpenJDK projects lead by a wide range of community members and employees of companies like AMD, Apple, IBM, Red Hat, SAP, and Oracle. In addition, OpenJDK has strong representation from academics, open-source operating system distribution developers, and individual software developers. The increased push to promote the OpenJDK effort has been highly effective in attracting talented contributors.

Growing the Base

Oracle has expanded efforts to grow the Java community on many fronts. The site is an online meeting place for the global Java community with 820,000 members and 660,000 unique visitors per month. Here, members post information about their development projects, share code and programming tips, and participate in blogs.

The site also serves as a hub for the many local or regional Java user groups (JUGs) around the world. JUGs are volunteer organizations, usually focused on a geographical area, that host local meetings, educational events, and networking forums to build the Java community from the ground up. "The Java user group community, as well as other communities on, have benefited from the increased investment by Oracle," says John Yeary, president of the Greenville, South Carolina JUG. "We now have full-time staff dedicated to adding more functionality to the site to support us, and we are actively soliciting enhancement requests from the JUG community to improve the site to meet our needs."

Oracle's newest investment in the Java community is Java Magazine, a bi-monthly, digital-only magazine with 120,000 subscribers. Like Java itself, the magazine is user driven; 60 percent of its content consists of contributions from the Java community. The magazine highlights news, new products, and significant, innovative and unusual Java applications. A recent issue discussed the Duke's Choice Awards, an annual honor roll of innovative and noteworthy Java technologies and applications. For the first time, the awards recognized two JUGs, while featuring the very first Community Choice Award winner.

Oracle also offers a free monthly electronic newsletter—the OTN Java Technology Newsletter—that delivers up-to-date information on news, trends, events and more.

Oracle believes that no community can grow and thrive without direct face-to-face contact. For that reason, Oracle continues to sponsor events such as JavaOne, the premier Java technology conference and trade show. In addition to its JavaOne conference, there are also smaller, regional conferences around the world.

Oracle also continues to grow its Java evangelist and Java Champions programs. Java evangelists are Oracle staffers who promote Java and interact with the community. Java Champions are independent, non-Oracle Java community leaders selected by the community itself. Through formal and informal discussions, meetings, and other community-building activities, Java Champions provide direct feedback that helps Oracle grow the Java platform. Members include Java luminaries, senior developers, architects, consultants, academics, industry speakers, and authors of Java-related content. Between the evangelist and Java Champions program, Oracle has spread the Java message to more than 500,000 members and potential members of the Java community in the last two years.

Oracle is also reaching out to upcoming generations of Java developers through the Oracle Academy. In 2012 this program added a full range of Java courses to the portfolio it provides to secondary schools and higher education institutions. In this way, Oracle is supporting generations of Java developers and users yet to come.