The Middle Course
But is Sun taking the initiative on openness and community, or just being reactive?
"We've learned a lot about how communities connect," Kluyt tells me. He paints a picture of a JCP with more power in the hands of individual programmers, one less dominated by corporations. What he says next is clearly a rehearsed slogan, but he seems to mean it: "JCP is about developing standards by developers for developers."
"It's been an education both ways," Rich Sands adds. Today, "a formal part of being a Sun engineer is interfacing. Integrating bug fixes, blogging. This the model of the future of software development."
Sun has faced down daunting challenges in the past by embracing openness. It hopes to do so again, and JCP is central to that effort. Sun wants there to be no confusion on this pointit wants everyone to consider joining the JCP.
But since Schwartz encouraged the already incessant drumbeat for open sourcing Java, the effectiveness of its JCP efforts may all come down to what it does regarding this delicate issue.
Phaeton needed to steer a middle course between driving the chariot too close to the earth and too high in the sky. Sun is looking for the middle course that gives them just enough control and openness that balances compatibility and community. There's a lot riding on its finding that middle course.