By William Fellows
The standardization of Java through ISO’s PAS (Publicly Available Specifications] process won’t be affected by changes made to PAS procedures at a meeting of ISO’s JTC1/SC22 computer programming language committee so long as Sun Microsystems Inc submits its Java 2 spec by November of this year when its two-year application is up. Although future PAS submissions will be subject to the terms of a revised PAS management guide that was rubber stamped at Java group plenary meeting in Rio de Janeiro at the end of January, these won’t be applied retrospectively. However Sun will be asked to re-apply for PAS status under the new procedures and in June will be asked what its plans are. A further three months are set aside for reviewing or redrawing applications but Sun’s current PAS application, assuming it submits Java 2 as planned this month, should be unaffected. Other PAS submitters, including X/Open, whose application has now gone beyond PAS’ two-year trial term, will have to re-apply for PAS status under the new guidelines, which have yet to be made public. However SC22 members we spoke to say that quite apart from the PAS process itself there are still key IP issues that remain unresolved regarding maintenance of a Java standard. The JTC1 group believes the Java trademark would reside with it. Sun insists it won’t. Moreover, as part of its PAS application Sun has yet to supply an explanatory note scoping out its plan for maintenance of the spec and allocation of IP. The new PAS guidelines make some of these requirements mandatory. Sun decided to use ISO’s PAS process – usually reserved for public specifications arising from consortia and industry groups rather than individual companies – as a way to fast-track Java standardization. Fast-track is a relative term in international standards processes and reports that Sun may be seeking additional routes for Java’s standardization, such as the Object Management Group or the European Computer Manufacturers Association, may indicate frustration with the pace of the ISO process. A number of companies remain concerned that the PAS process will leave control over the future development of a Java standard entirely in Sun’s hands. IBM Corp has stated more than once that there is a clear difference between the process to create a standard Java specification and the process to develop and enhance those specifications. It had hoped to see the PAS process – to which Sun will submit the Java 2 (JDK 1.2] this month – amended so that organizations and processes other than the PAS submitter itself could participate in the maintenance and development of the specification once created. Hewlett-Packard Co has been opposed to Sun’s PAS application from the very beginning (November 1997), arguing that the PAS process was not intended for use by individual companies. Nevertheless JTC1 has also decided, following the trial period, to make the PAS process a normal part of its operations. The meeting in Rio also decided to extend a trial period during which specifications such as Java can be referenced before they are standardized until the next meeting in November. JTC1/SC22 is the international standardization organization subcommittee for programming languages.