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Process variables created from dataObjects have type null if no default value is not supplied

Question asked by simontilbrook on Dec 24, 2014
Using Activiti 5.16 I have observed that the process variables created automatically from dataObject elements in the BPMN have type "null" unless a default value is also provided using the activiti:value extensionelement.

I can see that it could be argued that numbers and booleans must always be initialised since "null" is not strictly speaking either a number or a boolean value. But there are cases where it is useful to identify an uninitialised variable (i.e. which the user has not yet set).
Leaving this argument aside, it must be valid to define an "empty" string variable.

Is there any way to cause the engine to honour the data type defined in the itemSubjectRef attribute of the dataObject without supplying a default value?