JavaOne 2008...worth the trip.

It seems like I do well to write something here quarterly and I should make it more of a priority. Anyhow here are some of my impressions of JavaOne in no particular order.

First off JavaFX is just about where I have expected it to be since last JavaOne. I do believe this language extension will be a success. Personally, I don't see how it can't be although I may measure success differently than some. I am not claiming Flash apps will no longer be available on the web and the world will flock (back) to Java but I do think if you're using Swing and maybe Java2D to build your apps, you'll start using JavaFX and you're stuff will find it's way from the desktop to the browser and back with little to no effort on your part. I think Josh Marinacci explained this well on the last day in one of his sessions. There was not a lot of technical content in this particular session and I happen to agree with his assertion that we might use a variety of technologies depending on the job at hand. I did not agree with the fellow he captured with his camera crew and I was annoyed that Josh let the diatribe (Josh's word) go on for as long as he did. I understood where the fellow was not going in the first ten seconds and really hoped he had a specific and valid point.

On the subject of annoying things at JavaOne, here are a couple. I was annoyed that I could not get a bottle of water to drink with my lunch or at the breaks. I knew about Mayor Gavin Newsom's ban/position on bottled water before I left Richmond but I had not considered the impact on my daily intake of H2O. While I did not ask any conference official about it, I did inquire while we were at a restaurant for breakfast one morning. Without mentioning the mayor, I asked why we could not get a bottle of water with our daily lunch and snacks but there was all the coffee and soda one could drink. Newsom's name quickly came up as the reason. If you agree with the mayor and think this is a good idea you might wonder why there were in fact cases of water available to all the speakers. Ecology, economy, appearance, who know's what logic was or was not in place when this was decided. Bottled water was also available at the Smash Mouth concert but you were not allowed to keep the cap. :) I should add that there was a water bottle in the bag we got when we arrived and there were water dispensers throughout the Moscone center. I am not a neat freak but the question of cleanliness popped into my head given some human behavior. And on that note, late on Thursday we received an email that said there might have been a yet-to-be identified virus, possibly the norovirus, being spread throughout the Moscone center. Later, it was determined that it was in fact the norovirus.

We might have been more amused than annoyed by some of the folks guarding the lunch and drinks. Some of these folks seem to be just a bit uptight about checking Java cards and making sure people took a drink while they were on the proper side of the divider. I am talking about the anomalies because most of these people remind me of an uncle, grandmother, or cousin and were happy to have us there.

NetBeans (still) rocks!! If you're in an Eclipse-only shop, you really should take a look. IMHO Tor Norbye, 1/4 of the Java Posse, is a big reason for this. The features he is largely responsible for in NetBeans remind me of the days when Borland used to build cool IDE's starting with Turbo Pascal and then Delphi, C++ Builder, and before it went all Eclipse on us, JBuilder. You understand what I mean if when you find a particular feature (like code-completion for JavaScript in NetBeans) and your productivity instantly goes up a notch or two. Back in Borland's better days, I thought they invented the concept of increasing productivity. Speaking of JBuilder, I installed it on my MacBook Pro while still at JavaOne. I must admit I was initially impressed (I use NetBeans and Eclipse on a regular basis). Once I began trying to build a Swing app with the Instantiations Swing Builder extension, I quickly became frustrated. I have used GWT Designer and I believe it's easily worth money. That's why I was disappointed when I could not move Swing components around beyond a certain point within the designer. In addition performance (of dropping and painting the individual components) was terrible. We went back to both the CodeGear and Instantiations booths but could find no one that knew if this should run on a system running Leopard or not. For now we assume it does not and won't buy JBuilder.

I was really impressed (and surprised) by the Oracle keynote. The keynote and what they have done with TopLink and are doing with EclipseLink makes me think at least on some level, this company gets it. Is it possible that Oracle's days of totally proprietary ways are behind them? I hope so. Don't get me wrong. They can and should make plenty of money selling databases, related technology, and services but open standards along with some open source will do the industry and their bottom line well in the long run. On the frustrating side, I went to the Oracle booth and asked for a JDeveloper CD but was told they did not bring any and I should download it from the web. Certainly at home with FiOS this is no trouble but 700MB was just about impossible at the conference with or without my Verizon broadband card. Sun should consider setting up an on-site server or two for this purpose.

By the way if you have not been to JavaOne or are out-of-touch with Sun Microsystems, they have seen and practiced this wisdom for a long time. Wall Street may not like this approach but they have and I expect will continue to change things in a big way in our industry. Java, NetBeans, Open Solaris, and MySQL make up their open source offerings. That along with a large amount of freely-available learning material, which eventually includes JavaOne sessions, make up an incredible contribution to anyone trying to learn and stay current with computer technology.

Another group that contributes to our continued learning is the Java Posse. If you have not checked out their mostly weekly podcast, you're missing something. These guys are well-respected in the industry and produce a first-class show which is always informative and has the right amount of humor for my taste. Their BOF at JavaOne was worth the time and nice to see and interact with the guys "live" for a change.

"Bob's your uncle" is a phrase I had not heard in years but it managed to work it's way into at least one session and one keynote address at JavaOne. Did I miss a recent announcement which might have caused this phrase to make its way into our technical lexicon like "floor wax/desert topping" did so long ago?

JavaOne is in early June next year and I plan on making it yet again. Flying is not much fun these days but that's a week which is worth the trouble. Thank you Sun Microsystems and everyone who made it work. I will miss John Gage's voice and perspective of why we're all there. Thank you and good luck John.
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