Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Resigned from EC

Today I resigned from the SE/EE Executive Committee of the Java Community Process. I lasted about a year before giving up hope that the ECs would ever do anything meaningful.

The last straw for me was Oracle's failure to address the ambiguous licensing terms in JSRs 336 and 337 (the Java SE7/8 umbrella JSRs) before the EC had to vote on them. At first I abstained, but I was so dismayed by Oracle's silence that I changed my vote to No, joining the Apache Software Foundation and Google.

Several of the other EC members expressed their own disappointment while voting Yes. I'm reasonably certain that the bulk of the Yes votes were due to contractual obligations rather than strongly-held principles. It's not that I'm shocked, shocked that votes can be bought, but it finally made it clear to me that my vote was worthless.

Add to that Oracle's expressed intent to proceed with the SE7/8 JSRs whatever the outcome of the vote, and one can only conclude that the SE/EE EC is never going to be more than a rubber stamp for Oracle. (The belligerent tone with which this message was delivered does not come across in the public minutes, but it was loud and clear over my phone connection.)

That's not to say that I'm against the technical aspects of the JSRs. In fact, I'm a member of the Expert Group for JSR 334 ("Project Coin") and I'm participating in discussions about some of the library-related work on JSR 335 ("Project Lambda"). I think these are both good projects that will ultimately be beneficial to the Java language and libraries.

But here's a funny thing: To my own surprise, I'm coming to believe something heretical, that it actually is not all that crucial for Java to move forward, at least not to the constituency I felt that I represented on the EC, the tens of thousands of Java developers who don't work for a big company with an Oracle contract.

The big boys want big apparent forward motion because it means more stuff to sell, more contracts and control. As a result, we are whipped to a frenzy with messages (both subliminal and explicit) that Java is falling behind, losing mind-share, being lapped by C#, anything to sell the idea that more is desperately needed, when in fact most folks could make do with a lot less.

So while I think things like Project Coin and Project Lambda are worth working on, the Java ecosystem is already so amazingly rich that the absence of these features (and of all the other good things planned for SE7 and SE8) in practice doesn't get in the way of real progress for developers like me, who just want to put together maintainable, type-safe programs, taking advantage of field-tested readily-available libraries and frameworks.

It's nice to be back in the real world, writing Java code. Here's a partial list of what I'm using, besides Java:

Joda Time
YUI Compressor

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Vote for Bob Lee and prove Doug Lea wrong!

In explaining why he is not seeking another term on the JCP SE/EE Executive Committee, Doug Lea encourages us to prove him wrong about the growing irrelevance of the Java Community Process.

The best hope for proving Doug wrong lies with folks who have experience working on JSRs that weren't simply rubber stamps — and Bob Lee is the best of those folks. Bob is running for one of two open seats on the SE/EE EC against Azul, Eclipse, Google, and three others, and (if you're a member of the JCP) I urge you to vote for him.

Bob is running as an individual, which means that his votes will not be tied to the commercial and legal interests of a large corporation, but will instead reflect his personal expertise and judgment about the best interests of the Java community.

There's no denying that the JCP has been moribund for too long, and that Oracle's ham-handed moves have made the prospect of a true revitalization far less likely than anyone expected a year or so ago. But it's worth a shot, and I don't know anyone better equipped to help make that shot than Bob Lee. (Except Doug Lea, of course, but that's water under the bridge.)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Moderating Chinese comments

I've been rejecting comments in Chinese whenever I can't be sure that the comment isn't spam, i.e., always. Google Translate renders them as unobjectionable but content-free, but so far none of them seem to have come from an actual person who read my post.

If you can read my blog posts and you'd like to comment in Chinese, please include an English translation.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Google Collections is dead, long live Guava!

Kevin Bourrillion wants to get the word out: Google Collections is dead, long live Guava! Guava is a proper superset of Google Collections, so the passing of the latter is cause to rejoice, not mourn.

I've only scratched the surface of Guava in my own work on Seat Yourself, but I can tell already that it makes large parts of our "common" code unnecessary. Being able to replace your own code with a well-tested open source library is a wonderful thing, like getting someone else to mow the lawn for free.

In what feels to me like a dark time, as big companies privately negotiate the fate of Java and the JCP, Google's ongoing and generous investment in and championing of open Java-related technologies (Guava, GWT, GAE/J, Android, to name a few) is a welcome bright spot. Without their work ... well, I'd still be a Java developer, but I'd probably be looking for a way out.

That I'm still enthusiastic about coding in Java, in spite of the murky politics, is largely due to my friends at Google, which should tell you something.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Minstrel Boy

The Minstrel Boy, a piece I wrote nearly 25 years ago during graduate work in Computer Science at Cornell (with a minor in Music Composition), received its first public performance yesterday at the Unitarian-Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock. I had shown the score to the music director there, Stephen Michael Smith, who has a track record of fostering new works and composers, and to my surprise and pleasure, he very quickly arranged for a group of singers—Leslie Craigie, Farah Chandu, Leslie Pirchinello, Chee Shun Tan, and Brace Negron—to perform it as part of the regular Sunday service. (Pianists Evan Solomon and Akira Eguchi assisted during rehearsals.)

The piece is a setting for SSATB (with solo sections) of Thomas Moore's poem of the same name. It's normally sung to the tune of "The Moreen", and I used that melody heavily in my setting. The composition teacher under whose supervision I wrote it, Steven Stucky, was not, I think, entirely on board with my wholesale appropriation of these existing materials—he might reasonably have felt that I should be producing my own music instead of rehashing others', at least on his watch—but I persisted anyway.

This was the second world premiere of my work in as many months: In April, TracyLynn Conner performed a song I wrote for her, as part of a American Cancer Society benefit concert.

Both of these events were big thrills for me. If you don't count my music for theater, arrangements, orchestrations, or works for personal occasions, the last time I had a world premiere was in ... 1984.