Brian's Waste of Time

Thu, 18 Mar 2004

Get it Right -- Groovy is Endorsing the JCP

Lots of the excitement around the Groovy JSR points to the idea that James et. al. are trying to use the JCP to rubber stamp groovy as the one-true-scripting-language. This is absurd, in my opinion, but I understand the fears.

The more interesting point is that this endorses the JCP as a standards body (not that it needs endorsement) and shows faith in the JCP's ability to grow a standard that is more than a language extension. Most people seem to frown at ECMA and ISO for standardization of languages -- look at C# and ECMA. Who believes that anyone besides MS can make changes to the C# spec, or that anyone who provides a real threat to MS won't get sued into oblivion despite the existance of a standard (you still need to be able to afford five years of good lawyers in court to defend yourself)?

There is a key point that many people seem to overlook. Groovy doesn't compete with jython, pnuts, jruby, etc. They cooperate. No one directly profits from any of them, any one of them is welcome to reuse ideas and code from another, etc. It is like the flame wars of a year ago between OJB and Hibernate users (the developers didn't really get involved in any flaming) which never made sense. Both are great technologies, and both are welcome to see what the other is doing and use each others good ideas. Open source technologies support each other, they don't compete. It is not zero-sum.

By going the JSR route the Groovy team is deliberately relinquishing control over their language in order to make it easier for other people to use, and to make it more politically acceptable in famously large companies that would never consider a toy language. Groovy has aspirations far beyond being a little language -- and formalizing the process by which it is developed is a key step to achieving that. I am impressed in their faith that the JCP provides that framework -- it says a lot about changing perspectives on the JCP.

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