The last time I was in San Francisco was fifteen months ago. Some act of the convention scheduling gods forced Sun to schedule a bit more than the usual year between shows. So we’ve had a bit longer than usual to wait for the next big round of interesting announcements, Java platform strategies, and cool pens.
It’s important to note that the conference proper hasn’t actually started yet. The keynote is in twenty minutes. This means that all I actually know at this point is that the give-away conference backpack is, while smaller than last year’s, probably more practical. Rather than a big frame backpack thing it’s a small combination backpack/satchel, just big enough for a laptop and a days worth of paperwork. I suspect that I’ll actually use this one, rather than last year’s, which sits in the closet except for occasional use as an overnight bag.
This is, of course, a stretched metaphor. I smell J2ME in the air, aided only slightly by the huge Motorola billboard upstairs. It’s going to be a theme, I just know it. Smaller and more useful makes sense.
Update: 10:35am, Pacific Time. The first general session just got out, and I now actually have some idea of what this year’s conference will be about: ease of development and expansion of the platform. “Java Everywhere.” Overall, I’m pleased. Let’s take it in order:
Ease of Development: This is a big one for me. For Java to compete successfully against .NET, it needs to match Microsoft’s offering feature for feature. In most comparisons, .NET is a non-starter, but it’s extremely strong in the developer tools area for web based systems. Oracle did a demo of JDeveloper 9i 9.0.5’s new JSF GUI, which seemed (at a fifty thousand foot level) to be very competitive. This allays a serious concern I’ve had about Java’s competitiveness in certain areas.
Ubiquity: There are now 550 million Java desktops and 100 million Java mobile devices with as many again to ship in the next six months. That’s a big platform. Sun is launching java.com to preach to the consumer market, and java.net for the developer community. The Java logo has been redesigned for greater consumer acceptance, and the Java Powered ad campaign is being resurrected.
Compared with last year, I came out of the morning session feeling much better about where Java can go, in a practical fashion, over the next year.
More after this afternoon’s technical keynote.