Sun Microsystems is set to get together next month with a group of disaffected heavyweight vendors that has formed its own real-time Java standards body, in an effort to patch up differences.
Sun will attend the Real Time Java Working Group's meeting in San Diego Jan. 12 to 15, and answer questions about its new Community Source licensing plan for Java, according to members of the working group, which include Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft.
The Community Source licensing model was announced earlier this month at Java Business Expo in response to criticism about Sun's control over the development process for Java specifications. Members of the working group, for example, had been trying to get Sun to open up the process by which specifications for application programming interfaces (APIs) are created.
But no one wants Java to splinter into non-compatible versions, members of the working group said. Sun had a teleconference with the working group last week, and is set to have another one tomorrow, to pave the way for the meeting next month.
"No one wants the Balkanisation of Java to happen," said Bruce Khavar, president of Cyberonix , a member of the working group based in Berkeley, California.
In fact, even right after the formation of the splinter group in early November, there was always good will on the part of most group members to work with Sun and ensure that applications would run smoothly across different Java virtual machines from various vendors, according to several working group members.
"The fact is most people in the community think it would really be stupid to have different standards in the same area," said Ron Kole of AverStar of Burlington, Massachusetts, another working group member.
Java creator James Gosling will attend the January meeting to discuss the technical aspects of the development of the Java language going forward, noted Cyberonix's Khavar. But it's the business side, and aspects of creating different Java virtual machines, that might prove more problematic, he said.
"There are still a lot of questions about licensing, when you pay Sun royalties, intellectual property rights and so forth, that people still don't have a comfort level with," said Khavar.
Sun said the new Community Source licensing model allows companies to modify and share Java source code without charge or intervention from Sun -- and pay Sun only when they sell products based on the modified code. Sun is also allowing third parties to work on committees charged with developing Java API specifications for certain areas such as real-time applications.
But companies have questions about details of the plan, which they hope the January meeting will resolve, said working group members.