Monday Jun 08, 2009

The Authoring Tool

We lifted the veil on the new designer tool for JavaFX last week at the JavaOne 2009 conference. Here's a screenshot:

The tool made a number of appearances:

  • First in the Tuesday keynote where my boss Nandini showed the basics of the tool.
    starts at 23:08.

  • Then in the mobile keynote where Eric Klein showed the multiscreen support and mobile deployment.
    starts at the beginning.

  • And finally in the Friday keynote where I got to do a longer 10 minute segment on the tool.
    starts at 10:25.

The above video links just point to small chapters of each keynote; for full video replay go to
the keynote replay page.

I've scanned the blogosphere and twitter for comments on the tool and demos and the feedback is very positive.
a particularly detailed blog post with pictures and video snippets detailing the Friday demo.
Now we just need to finish the feature set, fix the bugs and polish everything! It's been a sprint for the whole team to get to this point. But we're not building a demo! We're building a product! So we're not getting much of a rest, it's right back to work to finish this thing!

(Photo by Balz Schreier)

P.S. In case you missed it, Larry Ellison from Oracle went on stage and made several comments regarding JavaFX in case the acquisition should happen - here's one article, there are many others.

P.S.2. We had our fourth annual Java Posse BOF live recording session last week. It was a blast. Dick stayed up editing and releasing
the podcast
the same night. If you're wondering what happened in the middle of the episode, where there's not much audio and a lot of laughing, that's me nearly drowning. I took a big swig of beer just as Joe made a joke; the beer went down the wrong tube, and then I was laughing so hard I couldn't breathe. My eyes were runny and I had beer all over my face and chest. Pretty embarrassing but reportedly also entertaining for others! Here's a photo from our get-together at a bar afterwards:

(Photo by
Toni Epple)

Thursday Dec 18, 2008

JavaOne Submissions Due

The deadline for submitting talks for JavaOne 2009 is almost here. I was on one of the review committees last year, and saw many common patterns for rejected talks. I wrote these up in a blog entry last year - "Why Your JavaOne Submission Was Rejected. You might want to skim through it again while reviewing your submissions one final time!

Also, there's a new book about develping Ruby and Rails code with NetBeans, written by Chris Kutler and Brian Leonard. I reviewed some of the content and it looked very good. There are a lot of books on Ruby and Rails, but this book really shows you how to do things effectively with NetBeans. Mastering your tools is one of the best gifts you can give yourself as a developer (or as a craftsman of any craft, I think). I gave this advice a while back when I was interviewed for the JavaOne daily newspaper. Highlights from these interviews were recently compiled in this article, containing advice for students from a variety of developers. When this article was discussed on DZone I was surprised to see some people still talk about IDEs as something to be avoided until you know what you're doing. I think precisely when you are new to Java should you use an IDE to help you explore IDEs, to pinpoint errors are you're typing code rather when you try to run javac from the command line etc. The same goes for Ruby, Python, PHP, and so on. The IDEs let you explore APIs using code completion and go to declaration, they present important operations in project and execution menus, quickfixes and semantic warnings pinpoint errors in your code, and so on. If you're still writing code with Notepad, you're missing out.

Sunday May 11, 2008

JavaOne 2008

JavaOne 2008 is over. As usual, it was a great event, but with the stress and hard work leading up to the conference, it's a huge relief that it's all over. For my part, it was another extremely busy JavaOne, with two keynote demos, a technical session, a panel discussion, a BOF, as well as three presentations at CommunityOne the day before. If you add to that the prep time for these (keynote software setup and rehearsals, slide planning etc.) there was barely time for anything else, so despite my best intentions I didn't get to meet up with a lot of the out-of-towners visiting JavaOne that I had planned to. I only made it to three technical sessions - and in all three I learned something. Hopefully the rest of the sessions that I missed had the same high level of quality.

I was interviewed by the JavaOne paper on Wednesday; the online interview is here. If you read my blog you might find it interesting. However, in the paper version of the interview, something went horribly wrong... Some of the questions and answers attributed to me were from a previous interview! In particular, I'm found endorsing the Flex SDK, as well as talking about my "math background". Those parts were from the previous day's interview with Chet Haase!
If you're wondering why I'm referred to as a "Rock Star" in the interview, that's a JavaOne thing. The top 20 highest rated talks each year (as determined by the speaker survey forms collected for all talks) earn their speakers a lifetime "Rockstar" title at JavaOne. And speaking of Rockstars, I've got independent verification that I am one (wink, wink) since Ed Burns also interviewed me (and the other JavaPosse guys) for his Secrets of Rock Star Programmers book. The interview was conducted a year ago, but the book is out now. I've read some of the chapters already and really enjoyed it.

It's always exciting to be part of the keynote demos. It's a huge production with over 10,000 people in the keynote hall. A lot of work goes into it. There's a control room in the back, NASA ground-control style. Arun Gupta snapped a few pictures during rehearsals this year and posted them here. The 10th picture gives a sense of the size of the hall. On the left is a drawing one of my kids drew of how she imagined my keynote demo - it would be nice if we actually had chairs to sit on. I guess when you're a kid you wouldn't imagine standing up while doing things on a computer! Anyway, you can see the webcasts from the keynotes - they are all available here. In particular, you can see our Tic Tac Toe demo here (about 2:20 into it), and the JavaScript editing demo here (about 19:45 into it).

The Java Posse BOF was another highlight for me. We had a short appearance at CommunityOne, but with just 20 minutes we didn't quite get into the groove. Thursday night for our BOF however, and with beer, we had a great atmosphere. We had feared a really low turnout since our BOF was scheduled smack in the middle of the Smashmouth concert - but that turned out not to be a problem, either because it was cold outside, or because a lot of people hadn't heard of Smashmouth (think the movie soundtrack from Shrek), or perhaps because we have really loyal listeners! If so, thank you!! A contingent of Norwegian listeners came up and handed us a lot of Norwegian chocolate! I didn't catch your names - but thank you very much! My local gym also thanks you...

My brother (who also works at Sun and has his own blog) has been staying with us for the last month - first for the MySQL conference in April, then JavaOne. It's been great having him here. We tried to get him on the air in one of our podcasts, but he refused - so instead we embarassed him during our BOF with a dedicated slide and tribute! He headed back to Norway this morning; Trond, it's been great to have you here and welcome back.

I'm taking a few days off now to catch up on sleep and chores!

Friday Feb 01, 2008

Why Your JavaOne Submission Was Rejected

JavaOne submission acceptance letters - and rejection letters - starting going out last night. This year, I was on the review committee for one of the tracks, so I got to see the proposals as well as the reasons for rejecting many of them. I thought I'd write these up, both to explain to the many submitters what might have gone wrong, as well as to give some tips for how to improve your chances next year. I'll probably link back to this post around the time submissions for JavaOne 2009 open up later this year.

  • Not Enough Details! There were a number of submissions that sounded interesting, but didn't include enough details for us to judge whether there is enough technical meat behind the promises. If you're promising insights or "lessons learned", tell us what those lessons are, such that we can judge whether your presentation will be worthwhile (and in particular, whether to choose your submission over the handful of other similar submissions in the same topic area).

  • Wrong category! I was on the Tools and Languages track. You wouldn't believe how many submissions to our track
    were not related to tools and languages. Framework, Practices, Process or Methodology: If any of these words are in your title, make sure you're really explaining how this is going to be tool related or language related.

    So why can't we just reassign them to the right track? Well, each committee works independently, and if we were to suddenly have to accept "new" proposals that were miscategorized earlier that would increase the work a lot - we've already gone through and picked our top candidates for each subject area and so on.

  • Not of General Interest! If you're submitting for a technical session, rather than a BOF, the talk will be offered in a room seating hundreds and sometimes thousands of attendees. The subject needs to be interesting to more than 20-50 people. If you're proposing a talk on a subject that is extremely narrow or a tool or language that doesn't have a lot of traction yet, you'll have better odds submitting the talk as a BOF.

  • Crowded Topic! Some topics are extremely popular. We received a large number of submissions for Groovy and Ruby for example. This means that if you submitted talks in one of these areas, even a perfect abstract wasn't enough and the choice for the committee was very difficult.

  • Strong Competition! At the end of the day, we only had about 20 technical sessions to hand out. We had more than ten times that number of submissions. We had roughly 10 talks for tools, and 10 talks for languages. Let's take languages - there's Groovy, Scala, Ruby, Jython, Java, ... as you can see there's not room for more than one or at most two talks in any one topic area.

    The good news is that this hopefully means we'll have very high quality for the technical sessions!

Finally, work one one strong submission rather than submitting 5-10 half-baked ones; just adding lots of abstracts does not help your odds given my points above about the low number of available slots; each submission has to be fantastic.


Tor Norbye


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