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Feb 27 2018

Java EE Renamed to Jakarta EE [Updated 2018-03-07]

Eight years have passed since the once highly controversial Sun-Oracle merger was completed, Meanwhile, many issues that were initially seen as potential reasons for conflict between two distinct corporate cultures have been solved in one way or the other. Still some problems have shown a tendency to linger on – for instance, the question who exerts control over the Java brand and how far said control goes. At this point in time the answer is clear: Oracle – and they can even make open source projects change their name.

A good deal of the remaining conflicts have their roots in the fact that Sun Microsystems used to have a generally positive relationship with and attitude towards open source software (OSS), its developers and advocates. Consequently, the firm created quite a few of its software products in collaboration with external coders and even conveyed several important projects from the proprietary to the OSS realm. Such was the case with key parts of Java, especially the core code for Java virtual machines (JVMs), which was handed over to the community in 2007. However, other Java-based technologies remained in-house and thus became part of the package that was later acquired by Oracle, a company that many regarded as an even harsher OSS antagonist than Microsoft used to be.

As it turned out, Oracle wasn't quite as conservative when it came to OSS as critics of the merger had feared. Not only did the company maintain its own Linux distribution (complete with two different kernels) and support program, but it even left many open source projects and implementations that built on Sun's software stock relatively unharmed. But the same rather liberal rules didn't apply to Java and anything Java-related; here, Oracle was always keen on exerting its IP rights and keeping control over core technologies, products and the "Java brand" in general. This led to a couple of confrontations, with the most prominent one being the legal dispute  with Google  over copyright infringement of 37 Java APIs in Android – a case that Oracle ultimately lost when the United States District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco ruled that Google's "re-implementation" of the APIs was covered by fair use rules.

Another 'troubled asset' was the open source version of Java Platform, Enterprise Edition, commonly known as Java EE. Here, developer interest had waned, and so Oracle decided to let go of the project and hand over the reins to the Eclipse Foundation in fall 2017. Most developers and observers considered this to be the right move, especially since it was immediately elevated to top level status under the moniker EE4J (short for: Eclipse Enterprise for Java). But the transfer turned out to be incomplete, since Oracle would not grant the foundation the right to include the term "Java" with the project name. As a result, the organization had to find new names for its flavor of Java EE and a number of related projects and processes.

The re-christening phase  started last November when the Eclipse Foundation's executive director Mike Milinkovich asked community members to come up with suggestions for new names. The ensuing discussion ended up with two favorites – Enterprise Profile and Jakarta EE. The final vote began on February 8 and ended on Friday last week. Yesterday, Milinkovich reported  that roughly 7,000 people cast their ballots, with 64.4% (4,482 individuals) opting for Jakarta EE and 35.6% (2,477) for Enterprise Profile. The affected projects, processes and groups are recast as Eclipse Glassfish (formerly just Glassfish), Jakarta EE Working Group (originally the Java Community Process or JCP), and Eclipse Enterprise for Java (EE4J), which replaces the old Oracle Development Management and is governed by a Project Management Committee (PMC).

Now that this has been taken care off, let's hope Jakarta EE will take off swiftly and achieve the success it rightfully deserves. For more background info, please check out this October report from The Register (author: Maxwell Cooter).

[UPDATE 2018-03-07: The JCP had initially morphed into the Eclipse Working Group, but got its new name yesterday – presumably in the interest of greater clarity.]


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