The Jakarta community and the larger community of the Apache Software Foundation is committed to developing open source software. The Apache Software Foundation is a nonprofit corporation registered in Delaware that supports ongoing collaborative software development according to a set of simple ideals: transparency, meritocracy, consensus, and mutual respect. To learn more about the foundation, start at the Frequently Asked Questions page on www.apache.org (http://www.apache.org/foundation/faq.html). Jakarta is a project under the Apache Software Foundation, and it is managed by what is known as a Project Management Committee (PMC). This committee manages a number of Jakarta subprojects including the Jakarta Commons.
The Jakarta community and Apache XML community both had tremendous growth spurts from 1999 to 2003, with both projects becoming dominant forces in open source Java. Tomcat, Struts, Xerces, Xalan, Ant, Cocoon, and other projects were embraced by the larger community and Java developed a very strong association with open source because of the influence of Jakarta. Toward the end of this growth spurt, the corporate structure of Apache required a certain level of oversight and accountability, which could not be achieved in an umbrella project like Jakarta with hundreds of committers. A decision was made to encourage Jakarta subprojects to move toward smaller, more focused PMCs. One of the first projects to leave Jakarta was Apache Ant, and other projects such as Maven, Struts, and Log4j followed suit. This new, more nimble approach to the structure of collaborative software development avoids the creation of a management layer between project participants and the PMC. Apache is making way for a new generation of projects that will set the standard for open source Java, including Geronimo, Pluto, Directory, Derby, and Axion. Be aware that the structure of projects and subprojects in Jakarta is somewhat fluid at the moment, and, as the situation evolves, certain components could be split off into separate Apache projects.
If you find the components in this book helpful, I encourage you to take some time to observe the commons-dev developer mailing list. The ASF is (mostly) transparent, and this means that the general public has a window into the collaborative development process that is used to create a large body of great software. I would encourage any developer to take an interest in a piece of software and watch the development process. Follow the decisions, releases, arguments, flame-wars, and evolution of something like Jakarta Commons and you can see for yourself what works and what doesn’t work. This is also a great way to keep yourself informed of the changes and direction of certain projects.
I don’t intend to speak for this community, and, honestly, no one can speak for a group as diverse as the one that has formed around Jakarta Commons. I wanted to write this book to help attract more people to the concept of Jakarta Commons and to take some time to encourage people to think about how they could contribute to that effort. If there are more people paying attention to the software, Commons components will have higher quality, more bug reports will be filed, and more people might take some time to submit documentation patches. If you find Jakarta Commons (or any other Apache software) useful, you should consider taking a little bit of time to help a fellow user on the user mailing list or submit documentation patches. If you find a typo or a bug, file a report on Apache’s Bugzilla installation (http://issues.apache.org/bugzilla) or Jira installation (http://issues.apache.org/jira).
There is always a need for greater unit test coverage, and any time you find an inconsistency in code you should file a bug. Contributions can come in many forms — answering user questions, writing documentation, writing unit tests, submitting patches, or providing feedback. All of these contributions help sustain a living community. If you find yourself unable to participate in the community, you can make a small (possibly tax-deductible) donation to the Apache Software Foundation to help offset the cost of infrastructure and bandwidth (http://www.apache.org/foundation/contributing.html).