The president and founder of the Java Lobby has called on Sun Microsystems to relinquish more control over Java before corporate rivalries destroy its cross-platform capabilities.
"Sun's open process is broken," said Rick Ross, head of the world's largest independent Java developer organisation. The collective time and financial investments made by independent Java developers should earn them a seat at the standards process table, according to Ross.
"The hundreds of thousands of Java developers dwarf the number of people working on Java for Sun or Microsoft," Ross said.
According to Ross, Sun's stewardship of the Java standard has led to decisions that are not in the best interests of Java developers. For example, Sun ignored a host of object-class libraries from independent developers during the creation of Java Development Kit 1.2. Sun has also failed to bring Apple's QuickTime multimedia streaming tools, currently the industry's most popular multimedia platform, into the Java fold, Ross said.
In addition, Sun has broken commitments to create a Java specification for the International Organization for Standardization, or ISO - commitments that were made in the name of speeding the process, Ross added.
"It's been over a year and Sun hasn't submitted anything."
These issues are causing some vendors to pursue their own agendas. Hewlett-Packard, for one, is building its own Java implementation for embedded systems due to Sun's failure to deliver a specification that includes input from other players. And Sun's decision to offer a Java-enabled application server will make vendors such as IBM and Oracle more suspicious of Sun.
Criticism of Sun aside, Ross said Microsoft's position on Java is equally troubling.
"Fear is driving Microsoft's approach, not vision," Ross said. "Microsoft should adopt a 'runs anywhere but runs best on Windows' strategy, instead of the 'embrace, extend, and extinguish' strategy we're currently seeing."
For Ross and others, time is of the essence. "It's time for action. Sun tells us to trust [them] - I don't. I want the system to install checks and balances so Sun can't run away with the process," Ross said.
The Java Lobby, in New York, can be reached at www.javalobby.org.