Saturday, June 06, 2009

JavaOne Wrap Up

As usual JavaOne was a blur of grandiose general sessions, engaging technical talks, enlightening hallway conversations, and a few raucous parties. It was good to see that even though the economy kept away a few people that the tone of the conference was still vibrant. I heard through the grapevine that there were about 9 thousand at the conference this year. There were a few hints of uncertainly in the minds of some of us at the conference due to the impending purchase of Sun by Oracle. No one knows for certain if this is the last JavaOne. I don't think Oracle would kill the conference but others have commented on the practicality of hosting big conferences like JavaOne and how disruptive they can be. My money is on an Oracle World rollup of JavaOne. How this will affect the tone of the conference is anyone's guess.

My biggest surprise at the conference was how much JavaFX has improved since the last JavaOne. I had maligned the technology last year which is something I'm regretting this year. Sun has created a better runtime environment, components, and a compelling, visual, JavaFX development tool. Things seem to be gelling for JavaFX. It seems that Larry Ellison is a fan of the technology hinting that he'd like to see more of it in the OpenOffice.org suite and that it should replace AJAX as the way to do rich internet apps. I'm not so sure about that last bit but it seems that JavaFX did enter into the OpenOffice.org zeitgeist last December for interface prototyping. I was under the impression that Ellison was thinking bigger.

The most awkward moment was the departure of Jonathan Schwartz, who after his "walk down memory lane" bit at the opening keynote, introduced Scott McNealy, was thanked for his "stewardship", and then left the stage never to be seen again. That was followed by the most bittersweet as McNealy said his goodbyes and was given a standing ovation by the crowd.

The best general session is of course James Golslings' Toy Show where a year's worth of Java innovation, some with little or no commercial potential, is celebrated. I was mostly impressed by Neil Young's LincVolt project car. The LincVolt is a 6000 lbs, gas-electric hybrid but the gas motor isn't connected to the drive train. It is used only to charge the battery. Young is trying to show you can save the environment and still go in style. I love my Prius but driving down the road in an environmentally friendly 1959 convertible Lincoln Continental would be da' bomb. My other Toy Show favorite was the Mifos project which was created to provide open source tools to support micro finance. It's great to see someone working on things like this.

I was able to get up on stage a briefly this year. I was invited by the GlassFish team to come up and say a few words about our business and how we leverage GlassFish. It's a great product backed by a enthusiastic community. Many of our customers have been able to save tons of money without compromising functionality or stability. It will be interesting to see what Oracle does with this gem. Let's keep our fingers crossed. The GlassFish birds of a feather session was packed in spite of the fact that we were competing with the main "After Dark" party.

I'm not sure what will happen next year. I'd like to say I'll be back but I'm not sure there will be a JavaOne next year. Chris Melissinos, who did a standup job as the show's master of ceremonies, optimistically closed the conference by saying "see you next year at JavaOne".

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