The Apache Software Foundation voted over the holidays to accept Sun's Jini contribution as an Apache incubator project under the name "River." Artima spoke with initial River committer Dan Creswell about the next steps for the River project.
The Apache Foundation made it official this week: Sun's Jini contribution has been accepted into the Apache incubator with the project name "River." The Apache River project home page contains only few details thus far, but most of Sun's Jini codebase and associated documentation will soon migrate to that site.
Dan Creswell, a River committer and recipient of the 2004 Jini Community Award, noted that the new Apache-hosted project will bring greater visibility to Jini development:
This is a culmination of the move to Apache licensing, and provides a good potential for Jini's growth. It also solves some of the key issues we had in the past [with regard to] visibility and openness. That's not to the say the Jini team weren't a great bunch of people and, from my perspective, they were very open. But a lot of people still perceived that just because Jini was still with Sun, [it was still] under the rules of the SCSL. A lot of people still hadn't realized that we moved to the Apache license. On the other hand, it's not that big of a move, because the Jini community has always been consensus-driven, anyway.
The obvious next step for the project involves moving the codebase and associated documentation to Apache's Subversion repository. Beyond that, Creswell foresees a quick incremental release, and then some re-thinking of what the Apache River distribution would eventually contain:
Based on my conversations with the Sun team, there are a bunch of patches that would go into what likely will be a first release, which will be an incremental one. We don't know any version numbers yet, because it's not clear how this will fit in line with the [existing] JSK [Jini Starter Kit]. We don't know whether there will be a distribution of the core libraries, and then separate packages for tools and services. So while there may be a release fairly soon [after moving the code to Apache], we may take a bit longer after that to re-organize our packaging to the new style of things.
The debate of what packages will be renamed to org.apache from net.jini or com.sun has started up on the [mailing] lists. That decision is part of the incubation stage. My personal preference is that, at last initially, the net.jini stuff stay as is, and the com.sun stuff change to org.apache.
A detailed roadmap for Apache River will depend on just what the Apache River distribution will include, according to Creswell:
While road map might be too strong a term, certain areas of interests or targets I can certainly see. The trouble with Jini is that it's an infrastructure component. It's very deep down in the hierarchies. It's similar to the question of "What's the road map for J2EE?" Simpler and easier to use, and more functionality, [are goals] at the strategic level. Jini has a mixture of both of those. How you knit all of those into a road map, is still to be decided. You can use Jini in the enterprise, in utility computing, or even on devices—the latter of which I don't particularly favor—and each of those uses has its own directional requirements on the road map...
One question is what stuff we do at Apache, and [what] we do on java.net or on SourceForge... I always draw an analogy between Linux and its growth, and how things have changed over time from being tightly coupled to being more distributed, and [how] the relationship between vendors and open-source developers [evolved]. Ultimately, we'll end up with something we could call "core" over at Apache.org, and a set of standalone projects that people will play with on their own. Then there will be projects that start on SourceForge, or java.net, and ultimately end up being used by so many people that they might migrate into the Apache project.
What are your expectations from Jini becoming an official Apache-sponsored project?
Just to be clear, I am not the "official spokesman" for Apache River, the views expressed are solely my my own and only a starting point for debate. I am one of many committers and my view carries no more weight than anyone elses.
Thanks to Frank for nudging me into doing the interview!