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September 22, 1997updated 01 Sep 2016 3:03pm


By CBR Staff Writer

Sun Microsystems Inc appears to be wanting to have its coffee cake and eat it over its application to become a submitter of ISO standards. The company has formulated a response to the concerns of the countries that voted no with comments to its application to become a standards submitter, which would precede any standardization of Java. The three main areas area of contention were; which areas of Java Sun intended to submit; the maintenance of the any ensuing standard; and the question of whether or not Sun would allow the use of the name Java in any spec. Sun thinks it has resolved those problems as follows. It will submit the Java virtual machine, language spec and core APIs, as it said it always would; maintenance in ISO terminology simply means bug- fixing and minor revisions, according to Sun and a working group will be established to address that and on the last point Sun says it will never relinquish its hold on the Java brand name, but it will permit the use of the phrase ISO specification for the Java platform, or something very similar. Cutting through the polemic and at times obsessive anti-Redmond rhetoric, the Sun plan still seems unclear as at press time we had not seen the remarks in writing. As far as the maintenance issue goes, it appears that some of the national committee understood that to mean the pushing forward of the spec. Not so, says Sun. The ISO rules clearly state that it means bug-fixing, and a working group will be established to oversee the changes. Any changes proposed to any of the three core elements of the spec would have to go back through all the national committees each time. The make-up of the working group and where exactly it sits inside the ISO process is another unknown. Sun says that whatever happens, it will be on the committee, which begs the question of who else may feel they must have a voice. But before anything gets to the working group Sun will first consult its 110 Java licensees about any alterations and then throw it open to anybody and everybody with internet access. That situation will prevail for any of the 1.1.x releases of Java, but JavaSoft president Alan Baratz envisaged the 1.x (1.2, 1.3 etc) cuts will have to go through the 30-odd national committee for approval, before the changes can be made to the ISO spec. Sun’s VP technology at its JavaSoft division Jim Mitchell said he ghosted an informal gathering across the street from the Joint Technical Committee 1 (JTC1) meeting in Ottawa last month which he said more than half of the 80 or so delegates also attended. He spelled out Sun’s answers to the various national committee’s objections to anyone who would listen, and as a result expressed absolute confidence that Sun’s revised submission will be accepted. The national committees have 45 days to vote again. As far as branding goes, Sun’s version of the spec will obviously be called Java, but anybody else that meets the spec could release software called, for example, Cappuccino – a representation of the ISO specification for Java, or something like that. Sun thinks the problems over a commercial entity being an ISO standards submitter is a non- issue, and had already been addressed as such by the JTC1 Technical Advisory Group (JTC1 TAG) in the US. And if all this effort fails, Baratz says it will have no impact on the Java brand.

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