The vote for the new brand for Java EE is up and the community has until February 23rd to decide amongst the choices.
We’ve generally stayed quiet about the Java EE rebranding in large part because we love “Java EE” and even larger because the legal complexities around the Java trademark are severely complicated. I’ll simply point out that after more than 20 years the Java trademark is still disputed, not a registered trademark ®, and Oracle should be cut some considerable slack. We often want things without truly understanding the responsibility that comes with getting what we want. Oracle bears a great burden and it is one we do not want to share.
Once you “rip the band-aid off” and get over that initial sting, you start to see the bright future of investing in a brand we fully control. We will love it, because it will be ours.
Now about those names….
100 unusable names
When we the community kicked off our process of finding a new brand, more than 100 different suggestions came in. Some of them clearly quite popular. Unfortunately, most of them were based on the Java trademark, which doesn’t solve the problem we’re trying to solve.
After that cut, there were a very small number of options left, such Pheenix or Heelium or Joe. Many people liked those names, which was evident both in the number of upvotes they got, but also in the number of people already attempting to register them as trademarks.
It shouldn’t be surprising then that our next new name for Java EE is probably going to be a name we all almost universally overlooked.
In mid November amongst the more than 440 comments, Kenneth J. Jaeger (@kjjaeger) posted, “How about Jakarta Enterprise Edition? Or is Jakarta still owned by Apache?” which is both a problem and a solution as we’d find out later. It was immediately down voted 8 times and I admit to not liking it at first either. Then weeks later, that magical thing happens which tends to occur in situations like this, you spontaneously invent what’s already been invented.
We were completely stumped in the EE4J PMC as nearly every name was rejected in the trademark search. Next steps were incredibly unclear and we were all racking our brains to the point you start dreaming about it. I woke up one Saturday morning in December with a eureka moment. “I got it. Jakarta EE. It’s so perfect!” The excitement grew overwhelming when I saw the “ee” domain extension actually existed and “jakarta.ee” domain was still available. So was the twitter handle. So was the github organization. I snatched them all up and shared my enthusiasm for the name with the rest of the EE4J PMC and soon it was the only name any of us could think of.
But there was one issue, it also didn’t pass the trademark search. There were more than a handful of hits on “Jakarta” by other organizations in the last few years.
Apache to the Rescue
Kenneth’s original statement had a clear obstacle, “Jakarta still owned by Apache” and it was Ivar Grimstad (@ivar_grimstad) who was the first on the PMC to see it as an opportunity. “Let’s get Apache to transfer it,” he excitedly proposed. “They own the oldest usage and it’s a great way to show collaboration.”
Mike Milinkovich (@mmilinkov) of Eclipse immediately reached out to Shane Curcuru (@shanecurcuru) at Apache and soon the two open source giants were moving mountains. Apache was in. Not only did Jakarta EE become an option, but it opened the possibility that “Jakarta” itself could be trademarked. “Jakarta” then becomes a brand that symbolizes more than 20 years of shared investment, contribution and leadership by two major open source organizations.
Could you ask for a more symbolically beautiful start to our future of open source Java EE?
Java was built by companies. Jakarta was built by community-run open source foundations working together. A transition of Java EE to Jakarta EE symbolizes a move from commercial to open source not just in practice, but in name as well.
The People’s “Java”
While “Jakarta EE” is not only great because it can be shortened to “JEE”, referred to simply as “EE” and provides us with a free pass on any acronyms that have “J” in them, it also has room to grow.
The bare word “Jakarta” would be ours and in the future we could create other things under this brand if we wanted. This may include “Jakarta ME”, “Jakarta MicroProfile” or a conference called “JakartaOne.” All of these names roll off the tongue, are instantly familiar and most importantly are community owned and free of any external licensing restrictions.
I’d argue as well that
jakarta.servlet.http looks strikingly close to
javax.servlet.http in a very satisfying way. The two would sort next to each other on import statements, which is a great relief to those of us who obsess over such things. We can transition into our new package in a way that feels clean, if not elegant.
Vote for a bright future
A vote for Jakarta EE is a vote for “Jakarta” as a community owned replacement for the word “Java.” We can take it where want to go. That can be anywhere. No other suggested name had that power and flexibility.
Though how we got here has been a very long path and the vote is still open, there is no doubt in my mind this is the right direction and where we are going is a far better place. A place that is bigger than Java EE and, someday, perhaps even bigger than Java.
It is entirely up to us.