16 August 2010

Open Source Management For JavaFX

Currently Oracle is faced with making a decision on whether or not to fully open source JavaFX. At the moment there is an unanimous voice made by the JavaFX community for the technology to be fully open sourced, via the petition started by Steve Chin. Below are some options for managing the open sourcing of JavaFX if Oracle made the decision to open source the technology (fully).

  • Apache
  • Oracle
  • JCP (Java Community Process)
  • Foundation

Remember that open sourcing JavaFX is a long term solution that needs to be properly managed in order to fully reap the benefits of doing so. I will be looking at the options as if Oracle have made the decision (hypothetically) that the community is after (requiring). Key factors that will influence which organisation open sources JavaFX is:

  • Ease of innovation for JavaFX with incorporating new features and systems, and the speed of getting them through
  • Participation of the entire JavaFX community vs commercial interests
  • Development and support of JavaFX on the mobile side (with JavaFX Mobile)
  • Licensing of JavaFX so it can be used everywhere front-end applications are needed
  • Allowing contributions which can be previewed/incorporated in future open source JavaFX releases
  • Promoting JavaFX so that more people are actively supporting/using it

Apache

Advantages

  • Very experienced with open sourcing technologies
  • Allow innovative features to be included reasonably quickly
  • Has a good licence that is balanced between personal and commercial use
  • Flexible with allowing outside contributions

Disadvantages

  • Conflict of interest with Apache Pivot which makes the organisation unsuitable to handle JavaFX
  • Apache have little interest in the mobile side since they are mainly focused towards web development
  • Marketing of JavaFX will not be very strong

As long as Apache continue to support and develop Apache Pivot there will be a conflict of interest that will affect their handling of JavaFX. If Apache is to handle the open sourcing of JavaFX it must completely drop Pivot first. What is another major concern is the fact that Apache have not developed a real interest in the mobile side, which is one of the keys to growing JavaFX even further.


Oracle

Advantages

  • Have a reasonable interest in the mobile side with the desire to expand further into this area
  • Reasonable speed of getting innovating features and systems implemented in future JavaFX releases
  • Can provide strong marketing and development support for JavaFX (including JavaFX mobile)

Disadvantages

  • Little experience with open sourcing technologies
  • Unreasonable and heavy handed licensing for JavaFX that may prevent it from being used on other devices (mobile side)
  • Will be restrictive with allowing outside contributions

With the recent events surrounding Oracle suing Google over some possible patent infringements Oracle is not helping their reputation with the JavaFX community. If anything Oracle has made themselves completely unsuitable for managing the open sourcing of JavaFX, therefore it would be best for them to pass it on to a trustworthy organisation.


JCP

Advantages

  • Flexible with handling licensing for technologies
  • Reasonable experience with open sourcing technologies
  • An independent organisation with no major conflicts of interest that would affect the handling of JavaFX

Disadvantages


  • Known for limiting innovation (very slow speed for including innovations in a technology)
  • Too much politics involved with companies (large sized) dictating what happens with a technology (not very community orientated)
  • Does not handle marketing since it is left to the members to decide if they will do it for a technology or not

Lack of innovation is a real weakness of the organisation that will heavily hurt JavaFX if the JCP were to handle the technology. Also the politics that is involved in the organisation would completely leave the community out in the cold, which means that JavaFX would not receive the improvements it needs for its target markets and the JavaFX developers.


Foundation

Advantages

  • Most independent of all the options
  • Everyone can get involved with contributing to JavaFX
  • JavaFX Mobile will receive the best development and support it needs since the foundation is only focused on JavaFX itself
  • Lots of innovation occurring at a very fast pace for JavaFX
  • Can provide open licensing that is balanced between commercial and personal use
  • Decisions with developing JavaFX are made by the community (who can freely join as members), not by some large organisations
  • Marketing will be effectively targeted to suit JavaFX since that is all the foundation is dealing with

Disadvantages

  • Foundation will take a reasonable amount of time to be formed
  • Unproven option that will need to earn the JavaFX communities trust

Clearly having a foundation setup would be the best option since it is completely independent, and it will only focus on JavaFX itself. However the organisation will take some time to be formed, and it will need to gain the trust of the JavaFX community if it is going to work effectively.

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