For the past two years, I’ve been running the Software Development Forum’s Java SIG.
It’s still not quite clear how I wound up doing so, but it’s been interesting and it’s been educational.
I’ve learned that there’s a wealth of technical information in the valley, and that it’s frequently accessible. This month alone, I’ve got people from AspectJ and Covigo coming in, to talk about some amazing ideas and technologies. IBM has been amazingly supportive (thank you, Karen Lee), BEA’s been wonderful, and the number of small companies that are out there, talking about interesting new things, is absolutely inspirational.
I’ve learned that the technical people at SUN are extraordinary.
Josh Bloch and Neal Gafter stop by on a regular basis. Craig Russell recently came by to talk about JDO, Stephen Uhler spoke about his Brazil project, and so on.
On the other hand, SUN itself apparently doesn’t care about user groups. Here’s an example: go to Javasoft’s web site and try to find out where, as a user group leader, you should give general feedback or ask questions or request speakers. If you look hard enough, you might find the list of Java User Group pages (though linking to the user groups pages from the New to Java pages is something that didn’t occur to SUN).
But no-one at SUN maintains the user group lists. No one at SUN pays attention to them. And no-one at SUN is even remotely attempting to be pro-active about them (for example, occasionally contacting user group leaders and asking if there’s anything SUN could provide to the community).
The level of neglect is absurd. The entry for the user group I run hasn’t been updated since 1999. Tom’s no longer in charge, the url listed there is incorrect, and the name never was the “Palo Alto Software Forum Java SIG.” I’ve sent e-mail into SUN asking to have this changed (for example, asking to have the url point to the correct web site). There’s been no response.
So let’s review. You’re SUN. You need to get your technological messages out to developers. Right down the street is a user group that has over 100 people each month, talking about Java technology, and who really just want to get the occasional overview of what’s going on with crucial technologies (for example, what’s new with Swing? It made a big splash, but it seems to be the red-headed stepchild of Java technologies these days).
What do you do?
You ignore them.
What should SUN be doing to support Java User Groups and SIGS?