Jakarta, Eh?

April 30, 2018

While scrolling through Twitter this morning, I saw Lightbend’s announcement that they were supporting Jakarta.EE. Jakarta? That was the name under which the Apache Software Foundation formalized working on Java projects almost twenty years ago. It was the entity that Sun transferred Tomcat and Ant into. It was retired a while ago, so to see mention of it again piqued my interest.

How history repeats itself.

One of the driving motivations behind giving the effort at the Apache Software Foundation the name “Jakarta” was that Sun wasn’t keen to let Apache use the Java trademark. At all. The brand was more important than code, specifications, or working collaboratively. So in a conference room in the building in Cupertino, a bunch of geeks hammered out the name Jakarta to address Sun’s concerns.

It turns out that when Oracle—now in Sun’s role as keeper of Java—handed Java EE off of to the Eclipse Foundation, they didn’t want to let another org anywhere close to the Java trademark. Again. I can picture a bunch of geeks having to deal with the same issue two decades later. You can see this tension all over the place, such as this from a blog post about the Jakarta EE community survey:

Jakarta EE is a new undertaking, and everything that has occurred previously on the Java EE platform will remain called Java EE and comply with licensing agreements with Oracle. Future work will be led by the Jakarta EE Working Group, a consortium of vendors working collaboratively with a global community of open source developers operating under the auspices of the Eclipse Foundation.

The smart ass inside my head quips that it’s a good thing that Apache probably isn’t going to push any trademark claims. But really, I can’t believe those same dynamics are still at play. I think it’s a kind of homage that Eclipse picked the Jakarta name back up again. I hope they do well with it.