As this year’s conference wraps up, I thought I’d do a recap of the good, the bad, and the ugly. First the good. While there was a lack of big bang technical announcements, the overall feeling at the conference was a good one. It seems like developers are getting down in the trenches again and all of the water-waders are gone. I spoke with lots of people, the majority of whom were glad about Sun deciding to try and focus the community. I whole-heartedly agree with the roll out of java.net giving the community a way to all be in one place at the same time. It should really help a community exchange to take place instead of our having to deal with all the fragmented places everything is in now.
While the consumer branding probably isn’t going to determine the success of the platform, the initiatives going on around the branding will. I was assured by the likes of Simon Phipps that there is a Sun team already in place that is listening carefully to the webloggers and postings taking place on java.net so that suggestions, improvements, and innovations will occur. I’m sure we’ll see some improvements including a couple already in the works for providing a stats engine and a way to recognize contributors on the site. Since java.net is basically a self-governing site, it will be interesting to see if some of the more critical Sun comments will remain on the boards, or if they will mysteriously disappear. We’ll see as things progress, but as a community site (and not a Sun site), hopefully we will see the former and not the latter.
I’ll combine the bad and the ugly. Let it be heard loud and clear…we need a more varied set of presenters. Almost every single speaker was a Sun employee or employed by one of the major vendor sponsors. I thought the session content of many sessions I sat in on and many of the speakers themselves were horrible. What looked to be an interesting topic would drone on with 20 minutes of introduction leaving 40 minutes for anything useful, which really ended up being maybe 5 minutes of real information if we were lucky. The technical depth was definitely lacking. While I didn’t attend any of the offerings of the Java University, I was talking with some folks at the hotel before catching my plane and they felt that even the full day courses were not as technical as they have hoped for. Most of the speakers seemed like it was their first time speaking in front of a crowd bigger than their development group (if they have even done that), and it showed. Let’s try and get a variety of speakers next time. I doubt many attendees want to pay $2K to be put to sleep.
And what was up with the mismatch of room sizes and topics? I saw some sessions in the Esplanade that were ½ full and others in the Hall E rooms that had an entire crowd standing outside being filtered in by the people-counting session police. I felt bad for them as they were certainly taking on the brunt of people’s frustrations. I saw some pretty rude people giving them a hard time. Give ‘um a break people, they were just trying to do their job. Let’s get a pre-signup servlet hooked up to the session selection on the JavaOne site. At least that will provide a better idea of how popular a topic is going to be so that the rooms can be better allocated. While standing room only certainly makes the speakers feel good, it doesn’t do much for the audience members, especially when they can’t get in the door.
The pavilion was noticeably smaller this year, but still had a number of interesting things to see. The mobile vendors were in full force with some of the devices that we’ll see being rolled out in Q4 here in the States. The gamers were getting full airtime in terms of development opportunities, devices, and market potential. Other, perhaps more practical, vendors like SolarMetric at the JDOCentral.com booth were toting their Kodo JDO implementation. The whole topic of object persistence seems to be taking a front burner in many shops as the entity bean debates continue. Anyone who has built a system requiring DB interaction (which is probably most of us) should take a look at what JDO can provide.
And please, if we’re going to be pushing the mobile market, please get conference-wide wireless access.
Overall, I had a good time at this year’s conference. JavaOne is still the place to be to get the full feel for the industry buzz. Not to mention having the opportunity to throw back a few beers with old and new friends.
If you attended this year’s conference, what did you like the most?