Memiors Of A JavaOne Junkie

I'm sitting in the San Francisco airport (SFO) waiting for the plane to Colorado.  You can spot all the JavaOne attendees by their orange backpacks and dazed looks. JavaOne 2006 is over for me as well.  I very much enjoyed this year.  I was actually quite relaxed compared to most years.  I usually go for lots of techno bling-bling in the pavilion.  This year I didn't.  I almost went home without ONE T-shirt!  Can you imagine it?  As it turns out, I was wandering by a booth and the guy says, "Hey, you want a T-shirt?". Now for JavaOne veterans like myself, this is like hearing, "Hey, you want this chunk of Gold?".   I don't know what it is about us geeks and T-shirts and useless trinkets.  But we go after them like the "Big 5" on an African safari.  The part I love is where all the geeks display their trophies throughout the week.  Take for instance the Sun Developers Network (SDN) party.  I didn't make it because I was too busy attending very interesting BOFs (performance evaluations are soon so this should look good). Anyway, I was in a BOF when a group of people walk in with balloons twisted on their head.  One dude had a hat with a figure of a woman on a bike in a bikini.  I have many observations about that.  First, what the heck was the balloon twister thinking when he did that one?  I was going to take a picture but a friend of mine had recently got in trouble for a blog picture so I didn't want to have the same thing happen. Ok, so in walks this group of people with twisted balloons with graphic depictions, on their heads and sit down in the BOF like nothing's wrong.  They obviously had a substance besides blood running in their veins because one of them immediately fell asleep in the chair.  That's JavaOne.  That's what makes it so unique.  The true geek comes out in all the attendees and everyone seems to thrive on the geekiness of the people around them.

I remember the JavaOne days of old.  Some unsuspecting woman who had volunteered to do collateral (marketing speak for geek junk) duty would walk onto the pavilion floor with a box marked "Hanes".  Some geek in the crowd would yell, "T-Shrits!" and thousands of wild-eyed Java developers would converge on the T-Shirt box.  At this point, the collateral specialist would drop the box and run for her life.  Now we had what my friend Anthony Earl and I like to call a "T-Shirt Scrum".  Ant is English and a former Rugby player so he relates well with the term.  The Scrum was a free-for all for a $5 T-Shirt that had "Java" on it somewhere.  On one occasion, I worked my way to the middle, got a T-Shirt then did a fullback maneuver out of the scrum.  Ant had a big smile on his face when I emerged from the scrum as I had apparently hooked a geek on my backpack and drug him out of the scrum with me.  I'm really not that big, 5'6" about 170 lbs.  This gives you an idea of the adrenaline rush that used to be involved in getting a T-Shirt.  So if you contrast that with the guy handing me a T-Shirt this year, it's just not the same. Now many of the vendors require a form of a scavenger hunt before you can claim your T-Shirt.  If you do pod duty, you can tell the geeks on the hunt because they'll walk up with a stamped piece of paper and ask a question like, "What stamp do I get here?".   OK, so maybe I'm getting older and finally realizing that I'll probably never where the 20 XXL T-shirts I have in my drawer over the next year.  I know my wife has been telling me that for years but you know how that is.  My all-time favorite JavaOne T-Shirt was from Segue software.  On the back of the T-Shirt was a picture of a Sumo wrestler leaning way far forward  flying through the air in the middle of an alpine ski jump.  It was so cool!  I wish I remembered the tagline because it was very good as well.  If anyone remembers this T-Shirt, please comment and help me out with the tagline.  I wore that T-Shirt until it was almost just a ring around my neck! Oh yeah!  I can't leave out the JavaOne mints.  Why do so many vendors insist on giving out mints?  Here are some theories.

  1. Mints are cheap and everyone likes to carry them
  2. They are easy collateral to transport to JavaOne
  3. Us geeks have bad breath
I tend to believe theory 3 is the truth.  Here's an idea.  Why don't the vendors just give us toothbrushes instead.  That way we'll see their company name every time we brush our teeth.  OK, so that assumes we brush our teeth.  I think most of us do.

JavaOne 2006 TakeAways

Two T-Shirts

Yeah!

Java Studio Creator Open Sourced

That's right!  We announced this JavaOne that we are open-sourcing Java Studio Creator.  You can hear the official announcement during the first day's General Session.

Java Studio Creator Delivering Features for the NetBeans IDE

This addresses the question, "Why do I have to install NetBeans and Creator if I want to create web services and do visual web application development?".   Sandip Chitale did a demonstration at NetBeans Day showing Creator drag-n-drop, visual development in the NetBeans 5.5 Beta IDE.  While you can't download this yet, we've basically shown you the direction we're heading.  We still believe there will, however, be customers who don't want the 747 cockpit and would prefer the simplified, focused view of Java Studio Creator as a stand alone IDE.

Building an Application on the NetBeans Platform is Way Easier Than it Used to Be

Even though I work in Sun Tools as the Java Studio Creator Evangelist, I'm very honest with people about my view of Sun tools 3 years ago.  I wouldn't touch them.  I had tried "Forte for Java", Netbeans 3.5, and 3.6 and quite frankly, I wouldn't ever use them.  That's a very different story today.  I really grew up as a developer in IDEs.  I even used Borland's early text based IDEs for pascal and C.  I used Symantec's Visual Cafe for a long time, IBM's Visual Age, and Borland's JBuilder for a long time.  I use an IDE because I want ot to make my job easier.  If it doesn't do that, why use it.  Not only has the NetBeans IDE become very usable and helpful, the NetBeans platform that it's built on has recently become way easier to use.  When I first started in the Creator engineering group almost 3 years ago,  I had nothing good to say about NetBeans module development.  I had to do it for the Web Service consumption feature.  And unless you were a very seasoned NetBeans developer, using the NetBeans platform for an application was unthinkable.  With NetBeans 5.0 the NetBeans team has finally nailed the module development.  Now developing modules for NetBeans is extremely easy.  Geertjan Wielenga's BOF opened my eyes about how easy it is now to use the NetBeans platform for application development.  Geertjan and Petr Pisl have created a Wicket IDE based on the NetBeans platform.

Visual Basic For The Java Platform?

Yes you heard correclty.  Tor Norbye, John Kline (both Creator engineers), and Herbert have been working on project Semplice for about 9 months.  This project allows a Visual Basic 6 or earlier VB programmer to write VB code that runs on the Java Platform.  They demonstrated importing the Visual Basic calculator program and running it on the Java Platform FASTER than it runs as a windows .EXE.  The coolest demo was showing a VB program running on Herbert's new SavaJe phone in the CDC VM.

Sun Portal Server 7 Making Big Steps

I talked with Paul  Hinz, the Sun Portal Server Product Manager and he showed me a preview of the upcoming release.  They were showing this at the Pod and I know this is tooting Sun's horn, but it was very cool.  They've implemented an AJAX window where the portlets run that allow for asynchronous portlet content updating.  This means if the content in one portlet changes only that portion of the screen changes instead of refreshing the entire screen with a postback.  Also, you can drag portlets around and reposition them in the portal.  Watch for this to be released soon.  I'm really happy Sun's making the portal product better.

Open Source Portal Project

Sun has started an open source portal project. The first part of the project is a portlet repository where people can find open source portlets.  So please contribute all your Creator-produced portlets.

AJAX Is Here To Stay

Duh!  If you're a developer like I am, you can appreciate how many times a technology is hyped then quickly dies when people realize what it really means.  AJAX stormed JavaOne 2005 by surprise but was the definitely the planned focus of this year's JavaOne.  The best thing I learned about AJAX at this JavaOne is how many companies like Google and ICESoft really figured out the best way to leverage AJAX technology.  They've employed a lost art called "Software Engineering" and created cohesive frameworks that encapsulate the nightmarish AJAX programming pitfals like JavaScript and wire calls.  Now developers can use AJAX technology without doing the low-level garbage necessary to make AJAX sing.

Jini Moving to Apache

"Jini?", you ask. Why do I care about Jini?  I first came to Sun in 2000 to work on the Jiro Technology team.  Jiro was a management framework (the buzzword of the era) built on Jini Technology.  This was a very very fun job.  Jini is a great technology.  Jini services and the concept of "resilient services" is a very compelling service story.  Jini service federations existed way before the term "Service Oriented Architecture" was coined.  After attending the BOF on Jini and JavaSpaces, I'm compelled to take a fresh look at Jini 2.0.  At the BOF, they mentioned that they are trying to get Jini to be taken on by the Apache Foundation.  The amazing thing about Jini is that the user community has liked it so much that they've basically been keeping it going for the past 3-4 years.

Hope to see you all at next year's JavaOne!
-David

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