Simon Ritter, an Oracle Java Technology Evangelist who is renowned for his entertaining and informative JavaOne sessions, has been in the IT business since 1984 and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from Brunel University in the U.K.
Originally working in the area of UNIX development for AT&T UNIX System Labs and then Novell, Simon moved to Sun Microsystems in 1996 where he started working with Java technology both in technology development and consultancy. At Oracle, he now focuses on the core Java platform and Java for client applications. He also continues to develop demonstrations that push the boundaries of Java for applications like gestural interfaces.
Q: Tell us about your JavaOne sessions. What tricks do you have up your sleeve?
Ritter: I have three sessions this year, two technical and a hands-on lab. The lab will cover the use of Lambda statements and the new APIs in the Collection classes which I'm doing with Stuart Marks and Angela Caicedo. It promises to be interesting and fun.
My first technical session is about the Leap Motion controller being used with Java. This is a very cool device that plugs into a USB port and then tracks your hands and fingers in 3D to very fine resolution (a bit like a Kinect, just for your hands). I'm presenting the session with Gerrit Grunwald, Johan Vos and José Pereda who've also been working on this. We should have some pretty cool demos to show using Java and JavaFX including the 3D support from the upcoming JavaFX 8 release.
The other session I have will be about the use of Java, JavaFX and a Raspberry Pi to “add” functionality to a car. Modern cars are much more like computers than just mechanical devices and there are some cheap components available that allow you to tap into the messages being sent by the different car systems like engine, navigation -- even the switches for electric windows. In this session, I'll show how I've used a Raspberry Pi and a cheap touch screen to replace the entertainment and navigation system in my car with one that gives more Formula One-style real-time and recorded data about things like power output, G forces, and so on. Definitely lots of fun.
Q: Aside from your sessions, what do you have planned for JavaOne?
Ritter: JavaOne is always a manic time for me. Aside from my sessions I'll be helping out behind the scenes with the keynote and there's always plenty of opportunity to spend time on the different Oracle Java booths. One of my favorite things about JavaOne is the conversations you have with developers outside of the sessions, in the hallways and at the various social events. It always feels like a huge family-style event.
Q: What have you been working on lately?
Ritter: Most of my time has been taken up with developing the software for the demos for my sessions. I've also been doing a number of presentations on Lambda expressions at various events.
Q: What are your expectations for Java EE 7? For Java SE 8?
Ritter: Java EE is not really my area at the moment, but from what I see Java EE 7 will continue to make developer's lives easier by eliminating more of the “boiler-plate” type code that is required for most enterprise applications.
Java SE 8 will be big for developers. Lambda expressions, which provide closure-like functionality in Java, will simplify all those places where we currently have to use anonymous inner classes. That's the big headline, but for me the really exciting thing about Lambdas is how the Collections APIs have been updated to take advantage of them. The new Stream, Predicate, Consumer and Function classes will make Java more functional in its nature and help to eliminate the distinction between serial and parallel code in Java as it stands today. I liken lambdas to the introduction of generics in Java SE 5: at first glance much of the way you use it is straightforward, but there are some more powerful and complex features that developers need to take time to understand to really get the full benefit.
Q: How do you assess the state of Java today?
Ritter: Java is a mature, stable platform, having been released eighteen years ago. However, when you look at the set of new features for Java SE 8 and some of the things that have been proposed for later releases it's far from being static. As a language and platform it continues to evolve to meet the changing needs of developers as the types of applications and the deployment platforms change. I feel confident that my role of helping developers to understand the latest developments in the Java platform is safe for a long time to come.
Follow Simon on Twitter, @speakjava and on his blog at blogs.oracle.com/speakjava.
See Simon at JavaOne 2013:
--CON3235: “Taking a Leap Forward with JavaFX”
--CON3243: “Is It a Car? Is It a Computer? No, It’s a Raspberry Pi JavaFX Informatics System”
--HOL3970: “Lambda Programming Laboratory”