This was Devoxx' 8th edition and my personal 5th (I think).
I think the Java EE 6 and particularly GlassFish v3 were very well received at this year's Devoxx 2009 conference. Of course some of it has to do with the fact that both are almost final (Java EE 6 spec lead Roberto Chinnici announced at the event that it'll be done on December 10th 2009). But I like to think that there's much more to it.
The Java EE 6 session that Antonio Goncalves and myself ran as a university 3-hour talk was packed and (this is the real test), all came back after the break. We went through 12 or so demos (with minimal failure I should say) from a simple managed beans to a working application with JSF 2, Servlet 3.0, JAX-RS 1.1, JPA 2, EJB 3.1 (including testing, Antonio's favorite). It seems that people enjoyed the level of information and the step-by-step approach. As any other talks at the conference, this one should be made available on parlays (for a fee) real soon. We're working to make to code for the samples available one way or another. Stay tuned. Update: the session is now live on Parleys: Part 1 and Part 2. Antonio's 1-hour talk is here. All talks are for a fee.
The Java EE BOF (a last minute addition) was packed and a good moment, and to me what BOF's should look like (too many people use it do deliver regular PPT-based presentations). With a panel of JSR and project leads, the discussion centered around availability of Java EE 6 implementations, new features such as managed beans and JSR 299, how JSR's can produce multiple specs, etc... Nice interactive crowd. The speaker's diner that evening was an occasion to meet Oracle's Steve Harris, the keynote speaker for the next morning.
The first "conference" day had three keynotes : Oracle, Sun, and Adobe. The feedback on Oracle's keynote via tweets, blogs, and discussions wasn't so good but I think that with the given circumstances it made clear that Oracle cared and was no stranger to how the Java community is structured, how it evolves, and what the challenges are. The demos were what people remembered it seems. Sun's keynote was given by Roberto and Ludo (already available on Parleys) and, in 30 minutes, covered Java EE 6 and demoed GlassFish v3 - fast startup, deploy on change, preserve session on redeploy, and OSGi bundle invocation straight from a servlet were all shown in only a few minutes. I think that this is the first conference in a while where people don't ask me about GlassFish's future (and I did talk to many people during the event). This is both the result of what they saw and of the recently updated FAQ by Oracle.
JBoss was pretty well represented this year but for some (planning?) reason there was no dedicated talk on JSR299. It was certainly very nice to see JBoss strongly supporting Java EE 6 (beanvalidation, 299, JSF 2, etc...). Other highlights for me at the conference were the JDK 7 closure proposal, project Lombok looks interesting (including in a Java EE context), not quite convinced by Gradle (Maven 3 releasing in January may steal its thunder), and Kees Jan's monitoring/performance talk was pretty good. I'm amazed to see the number of people attend those performance talks - the GC is no longer the issue and there hasn't been any technology or performance tool break-through in a while (btrace is the only thing that comes close and Simon covered that). Clearly SOA is disappearing from the agenda year after year (although people had good things to say about SOA in Practice session), and leaving room for the cloud talks.