Reza Rahman's Blog

  • January 22, 2015

JMaghreb 2014 Trip Report

Guest Author

JMaghreb 2014 was held on November 4-6. Organized by the Morocco JUG, JMaghreb is one of the largest Java developer conferences in North Africa. Although centered around the Maghreb region (that's Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Mauritania) the conference is on the radar for folks around the broader Middle East, Africa and Southern Europe. This was yet another brilliant year for the conference. Speakers included Patrick Curran, Werner Keil, Johan Vos, Mohamed Taman, Hazem Saleh, Paul Bakker, Romain Manni-Bucau, Abdelmonaim Remani, Simon Ritter, Angela Caicedo and Mike Milinkovich. Topics included Java SE, Java EE, JavaFX, HTML5/JavaScript, mobile, NoSQL, OSGi, Big Data and the cloud. The passion that organizers including Badr El Houari, Faissal Butaounte, Youssef Misdaq, Mohammed Aboullaite, Abdelmonaim Remani and Mohamed Taman put into JMaghreb speaks for itself. I am extremely grateful that the organizers invited me and very glad that I was able to accept. One of the most remarkable things about JMaghreb that I was astounded to notice was the very large number of female attendees - far more than any conference I have ever gone to. In the words of organizer Faissal Butaounte, "they are sending a clear message - they are passionate about technology".

I started the conference on the first day with my thus far very popular talk on aligning Java EE 7 with the HTML 5/JavaScript Rich Client landscape. I use AngularJS for my demo but the concepts can apply to any JavaScript (or even native mobile) front-end using a Java EE 7 back-end. This session was a full house in the main hall. The slide deck for the talk is posted below:

The demo code is posted on GitHub: https://github.com/m-reza-rahman/javaee-javascript. Do give me a shout if you need help getting the demo up and running but it should be very straightforward.

I didn't have a talk scheduled the second day so was able to focus on honing my three brand new talks the next day. Romain had a pretty cool talk the second day on TomEE.

I started the last day of the conference with a bang back in the main hall with my talk titled "Why Open Standards and Java/EE Matter (to You)". The talk is actually designed to be a keynote and covers a very important topic that I think there's far too little material out there on. It talks about the core value proposition for standards like Java EE in maintaining a healthy competitive marketplace. It differentiates open technical standards from so called "de-facto standards" and explores the relationship between open source and open standards. I also talk about what the community can do to make standards really work. The talk taps into one of my fields of study that I never pursued in my career and few developers really seem to have even a basic grasp of - economic analysis. This is a talk I've been waiting to give for many years and I am glad I was finally able to start presenting it. To some degree it embodies many of the core motivations that keep me doing what I do to try to help move the Java EE standard forward. The slides for the talk are here:

The talk was very well attended and well received. I was glad to be able to invite Patrick and Mohamed Taman on stage for the talk. I hope to get an opportunity to do this talk again soon (I did the same talk for the closing keynote of Java2Days 2014).

My second talk of the day was our likely new flagship talk for this year titled "What's Coming in Java EE 8". The talk covers the possibilities for Java EE 8 such as HTTP 2/Servlet 4, Server-Sent Events (SSE), a new standard action-oriented web framework, security simplification, REST management/monitoring, even better JSON support, CDI 2, platform-wide CDI alignment, more pruning, JCache, JMS.next() and Java SE 8 alignment. I also cover Adopt-a-JSR. The slides for the talk are here:

The talk had good attendance and I had some excellent conversations afterwards. The Morocco JUG as well as the Egypt JUG are among the early adopters of Java EE 8 JSRs, quite possibly along with the Tunisian JUG community. After lunch Patrick had a session on the JCP which also had very good attendance.

I had the last session slot for the conference and my last talk was very packed. The title of this new talk is "Reactive Java EE - Let Me Count the Ways!". It aligns Java EE with core Reactive Programming principles. Though many people don't realize it, Java EE has long had very good support for asynchronous, event-driven, non-blocking scalable systems. This includes features and APIs like JMS, Message Driven Beans, Asynchronous Session Beans, CDI events/observers, asynchronous Servlets/NIO, server/client side JAX-RS, WebSocket asynchronous support and the Java EE concurrency utilities. These features can be used in a highly Reactive fashion especially in conjunction with Java SE 8 lambdas, streams and CompletableFuture. The slides for the talk are here:

Thus far this new talk seems to be quite popular and well received. I am sure to present the talk again soon.

Besides the conference Morocco was truly a pleasure. It is really a shame more Americans don't make Morocco their preferred travel destination. Morocco features rich history, culture, architecture, food and nature. It is by far one of the most thoroughly friendly countries that I have ever been to with a deep tradition of warm hospitality - and this is despite the obvious signs of poverty and misery. During the conference I was able to explore a little bit of legendary Casablanca, particularly in the evening hours. Thanks to Badr and the JMaghreb organizers I was also able to see a bit of Morocco outside the very urban Casablanca. Our very gracious hosts took some of the speakers including myself for a brief visit to the beautiful desert city of Marrakesh. Though Marrakesh is definitely worth seeing, I found myself truly captivated by the Moroccan country side. To explore it a bit more intimately I excused myself from my hosts and decided to spend some time trekking in the reasonably nearby but far more rugged Agafay desert (popularly known as the "Marrakesh desert"). Agafay is actually at the very base of the Atlas mountain chain and is a very picturesque mix of rocky desert, mountains and classical sand dunes. If you check out the pictures below it's very easy to see why Morocco is one of Hollywood's most favored destinations for science fiction movies. At times, it was easy to imagine that I've magically gone through a dimensional portal into another planet altogether. Only the presence of my local Berber tribesman guide Ali was indication that I was still on planet Earth. Maybe next time I'll skip the companionship just to complete the illusion.

The most awe inspiring experiences that drove home the true hospitality of the Moroccan/Berber people occurred during the hike through a remote mountain village. Since it was lunchtime, Ali and I were actually invited to share a meal with a very friendly rural family! And these were people that barely had the benefit of electricity, running water or mass communication! As time was of essence I and Ali politely declined the once-in-a-lifetime invitation...

The Atlas mountains are very unique on their own right and Agafay barely scratches the surface. The peak of the Atlas Mountains is the second highest in Africa behind mount Kilimanjaro. An overnight strenuous technical climb, it offers some of the most unique terrain in the world and definitely worth attempting if opportunity permits.

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed JMaghreb and Morocco. I hope to return soon and see all the folks I met there again!

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