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Happy Birthday Free and Open Source Java!

Posted by terrencebarr on November 13, 2007 at 5:32 AM PST


  • Check out videos by Mark Reinhold, Ray Gans, and John Muhlner
  • And here is the blog by Rich Sands
  • The blog by the ME Framework project owner, Vladimir Sizikov

A year ago to this day on November 13, 2006, Sun released Java (ME, SE, and EE) under GPLv2. Wow, a year ago already? Here's a little flashback: the original press release and the announcement site with interviews and statements.

So ... DRUM-ROLL ...

Happy 1st Birthday Free and Open Source Java!

I still remember how it felt: We here at Sun were tired and tense but excited after months of relentless discussions and preparations. How would it all pan out? Would the world embrace open source Java? Would something go horribly wrong? After all, nobody had really tried anything like this such on such a scale.

I went back today to read my very first blog as Evangelist of the Mobile & Embedded Community. It's clearly written from the visionary angle of the moment but in hindsight I think it is still true and maps out fairly accurately the position and goals of open Java ME in the mobile & embedded world.

So, where is open source Java ME at its 1st birthday?

Being the dad of a toddler let me describe it this way: Still a bit wobbly on its feet in some regards but undeniably growing, learning, and venturing out into the world (if you're interested in details see the timeline at the end of the post). Open source is a long-term effort and success takes time. That's why I am overall very happy with the progress.

The Mobile & Embedded Community is growing at a good rate and is blessed with many excellent members (for example, our Community Stars), but more importantly there is increasing proof that open source Java ME is seeing traction in many places around the mobile and embedded ecosystem.

As examples, two projects we've been working with closely lately are BugLabs and Cineca (an english description of the jtv project is here) but there are quite a few others and more in the pipe. Carriers such as Vodafone with its Betavine program and Telenor with iLabs Mobile Toolbox are getting involved. And opportunities are popping up everywhere (how about adding phoneME to the Trolltech Qtopia Phone Edition GPL stack? And here is an interview of Rich Sands and myself by InfoWorld on Friday of last week.

So where do I want to be at our 2nd birthday?

First, and foremost, I want to see adoption of open source Java ME (and Java in general, for that matter) increase further and faster. We want more people to use it and more people to get involved, tearing down the barriers to innovation and remove inefficiencies that slow down the mobile and embedded ecosystem as a whole.

At the top of my mind are three things that need to be addressed to accelerate:

  • We need to work on increasing transparency and community involvement in our open source roadmap plans. The feedback of community members and experienced players in the ecosystem is essential to the continuing success of Java ME as a whole. The community forums have been a welcome mechanism for feedback but we need to continue opening new channels to enable the the community to actively participate in the shaping of the platform.

  • The availability of well-tested and consistent Java ME platforms is of critical importance. The community is doing great job in adopting and promoting the open source bits but right now doesn't have easy access to comprehensive testing tools, in particular some of the key Java ME TCKs. Figuring out a way to make these TCKs available for the purpose of ensuring compatibility of community-created software is a priority item.

  • While Sun has been very aggressive in open sourcing a complete and buildable stack and live public code repositories we realize that the list of supported platforms is not ideal yet. In particular, interest in Java ME on Windows Mobile as well as a few key Linux platforms such as the Nokia N800 series and OpenMoko is very high and availability of phoneME there will certainly drive adoption to new levels. We are happy to see the community already working on some of these and we trying to find ways to support the community even further and speed up the progress.

We are investigating all three of these areas. Stay tuned.

So there you have it. Let's sit back, have another slice of the virtual birthday cake and enjoy the moment. And please share your thoughts.


-- Terrence

What A Year! Open Source Java ME and Mobile & Embedded Timeline

Nov. 13, 2006:

  • The code for the phoneME Feature CLDC/MIDP stack as well as the phoneME Advanced CDC stack are released to the community, fully buildable from day one and supporting desktop (Windows/Linux) and for Linux/ARM platforms.
  • The Mobile & Embedded Community has a governance model and participation handbook on opening day
  • The lack of a classpath exception for phoneME is discussed in the community and Sun explains its position regarding application development on phoneME. The community is satisfied with the clarifications.

December 2006:

  • Open source Java ME and the Mobile & Embedded Community is presented at JavaPolis to a small but dedicated crowd
  • 20 Dec 2006: An external project called MIDPath which provides a MIDP 2 implementation for desktops using phoneME Feature is released merely five weeks after phoneME was made available.

January 2007:

  • Already, the Mobile & Embedded Community has had a cumulative 70000 hits
  • To date, phoneME has already been downloaded 7000 times
  • Sun's platform engineers have already written dozens of blogs and technical articles about the intricacies and architectural details of the open source code
  • The community has already grown to dozens of projects, most of them external, such as Orbit (a Sun/OpenLaszlo join project for building an Java ME LZX viewer) and Marge (a Java ME Bluetooth Framework)

February 2007:

  • February 21, 2007: At the Java ME Day (part of Sun Tech Days) in Hyderabad, India we present open source Java ME to a standing room-only crowd of 900 local attendees and several hundred more in two satellite locations. The enthusiasm is overwhelming and we are beginning to feel like rockstars. One of the most common questions is "When can we have phoneME for Windows CE and Windows Mobile?"
  • Community members being with porting phoneME Advanced to Windows CE.

March 2007:

  • BugLabs starts investigations to use phoneME for a new type of configurable consumer electronics device based on an all open source Java-centric stack.

April 2007:

  • Open source Java ME is at FISL in Brazil. Again, the response is enthusiastic. The traffic at the Mobile & Embedded Community booth was so high during the 4 days that the team comes back totally exhausted.
  • April 23, 2007: Launch of the Java Mobility Podcast series. Series will prove highly successful with 30 weekly podcasts in 2007 and 1000 downloads a week.

May 2007:

  • The Mobile & Embedded Community starts collaboration with Vodafone Betavine
  • May 9, 2007: phoneME Feature Milestone Relase 2 is released to the community. MR2 adds support for a number of new APIs which are part of the MSA JSR 248 platform, adds performance optimizations and other improvements, and has been fully QA tested. With this release the source code is now under live development on the subversion repository on
  • May 16, 2007: phoneME Advanced Milestone Release 2 is released to the community. MR2 adds support for MIDP 2.1 on CDC, an advanced application management system, and MMAPI support. With this release the source code is now under live development on the subversion repository on

At JavaOne 2007:

  • Open source Java ME and the Mobile & Embedded Community is present in a number of talks and sessions at JavaOne
  • The ME Application Developer project is relaunched at JavaOne with a redesign and much more content and source code designed to engage advanced Java ME application developers and bring them into the community

September 2007:

  • Community members begin porting phoneME Advanced to the Nokia N770/N800 Internet tablet
  • We learn that, an Italian consortium of universities, is using phoneME in an open source, all-Java set-top box for an interactive TV broadcasting system
  • Open source Java ME is presented at the OSiM conference (Open Source in Mobile) conference in Madrid, Spain. The interest is large and we make a couple of key connections with platform providers and carriers.
  • September 14, 2007: The "Community Stars" section is made live. This section introduces and highlights particularly active members of the community. It kicks off with five members, among them well-known industry pundits, bloggers, Java ME experts, and representatives from key industry players.

October 2007:

  • October 2: The Java Mobile & Embedded Developer Days conference is announced to be held in January of 2008. It is an event to grow the Mobile & Embedded Community and is the first developer conference solely dedicated to mobile & embedded Java. Response from the community is enthusiastic and the Calls for Papers yields nearly 100 submissions.
  • The Mobile & Embedded Community stats since launch: Over 600,000 cumulative page hits, hundreds of articles and blogs posted, over 80 community projects, over 4000 forum postings, more than 500 active community members, over 20,000 downloads over all projects in the community
  • As phoneME becomes continues to spread in the industry in a number of projects testing of compatibility via Java ME TCKs becomes more and more urgent. Community members open the conversation with Sun to make available Java ME TCKs for testing of stacks based on the phoneME platform.
  • The first community contributions under the SCA are being integrated into the code

November 2007:

  • November 6, 2007: The cqME project (open source Java ME testing tools and frameworks project) adds the Classpath exception to its license and thereby can now be linked with other code without making the produced executable subject to the terms of GPLv2
  • November 13, 2007: Happy Birthday!

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