Specification Scope in Jakarta EE

With the Eclipse Foundation Specification Process (EFSP) a single open source specification project has a dedicated project team of committers to create and maintain one or more specifications. The cycle of creation and maintenance extends across multiple versions of the specification, and so while individual members may come and go, the team remains and it is that team that is responsible for the every version of that specification that is created.

The first step in managing how intellectual property rights flow through a specification is to define the range of the work encompassed by the specification. Per the Eclipse Intellectual Property Policy, this range of work (referred to as the scope) needs to be well-defined and captured. Once defined, the scope is effectively locked down (changes to the scope are possible but rare, and must be carefully managed; the scope of a specification can be tweaked and changed, but doing so requires approval from the Jakarta EE Working Group’s Specification Committee).

Regarding scope, the EFSP states:

Among other things, the Scope of a Specification Project is intended to inform companies and individuals so they can determine whether or not to contribute to the Specification. Since a change in Scope may change the nature of the contribution to the project, a change to a Specification Project’s Scope must be approved by a Super-majority of the Specification Committee.

As a general rule, a scope statement should not be too precise. Rather, it should describe the intention of the specification in broad terms. Think of the scope statement as an executive summary or “elevator pitch”.

Elevator pitch: You have fifteen seconds before the elevator doors open on your floor; tell me about the problem your specification addresses.

The scope statement must answer the question: what does an implementation of this specification do? The scope statement must be aspirational rather than attempt to capture any particular state at any particular point-in-time. A scope statement must not focus on the work planned for any particular version of the specification, but rather, define the problem space that the specification is intended to address.

For example:

Jakarta Batch provides describes a means for executing and managing batch processes in Jakarta EE applications.

and:

Jakarta Message Service describes a means for Jakarta EE applications to create, send, and receive messages via loosely coupled, reliable asynchronous communication services.

For the scope statement, you can assume that the reader has a rudimentary understanding of the field. It’s reasonable, for example, to expect the reader to understand what “batch processing” means.

I should note that the two examples presented above are just examples of form. I’m pretty sure that they make sense, but defer to the project teams to work with their communities to sort out the final form.

The scope is “sticky” for the entire lifetime of the specification: it spans versions. The plan for any particular development cycle must describe work that is in scope; and at the checkpoint (progress and release) reviews, the project team must be prepared to demonstrate that the behavior described by the specifications (and tested by the corresponding TCK) cleanly falls within the scope (note that the development life cycle of specification project is described in Eclipse Foundation Specification Process Step-by-Step).

In addition the specification scope which is required by the Eclipse Intellectual Property Policy and EFSP, the specification project that owns and maintains the specification needs a project scope. The project scope is, I think, pretty straightforward: a particular specification project defines and maintains a specification.

For example:

The Jakarta Batch project defines and maintains the Jakarta Batch specification and related artifacts.

Like the specification scope, the project scope should be aspirational. In this regard, the specification project is responsible for the particular specification in perpetuity. Further the related artifacts, like APIs and TCKs can be in scope without actually being managed by the project right now.

Today, for example, most of the TCKs for the Jakarta EE specifications are rolled into the Jakarta EE TCK project. But, over time, this single monster TCK may be broken up and individual TCKs moved to corresponding specification projects. Or not. The point is that regardless of where the technical artifacts are currently maintained, they may one day be part of the specification project, so they are in scope.

I should back up a bit and say that our intention right now is to turn the “Eclipse Project for …” projects that we have managing artifacts related to various specifications into actual specification projects. As part of this effort, we’ll add Git repositories to these projects to provide a home for the specification documents (more on this later). A handful of these proto-specification projects currently include artifacts related to multiple specifications, so we’ll have to sort out what we’re going to do about those project scope statements.

We might consider, for example, changing the project scope of the Jakarta EE Stable APIs (note that I’m guessing a future new project name) to something simple like:

Jakarta EE Stable APIs provides a home for stable (legacy) Jakarta EE specifications and related artifacts which are no longer actively developed.

But, all that talk about specification projects aside, our initial focus needs to be on describing the scope of the specifications themselves. With that in mind, the EE4J PMC has created a project board with issues to track this work and we’re going to ask the project teams to start working with their communities to put these scope statements together. If you have thoughts regarding the scope statements for a particular specification, please weigh in.

Note that we’re in a bit of a weird state right now. As we engage in a parallel effort to rename the specifications (and corresponding specification projects), it’s not entirely clear what we should call things. You’ll notice that the issues that have been created all use the names that we guess we’re going to end up using (there’s more more information about that in Renaming Java EE Specifications for Jakarta EE).

This entry was posted in EDP, EFSP, Jakarta EE, Java, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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