JavaOne is Rebuilding Momentum

Just finished up an extremely busy week at JavaOne and there was a lot to like about this year’s event. There were plenty of surprise announcements, lots of good content/sessions, and a lot of improvements on the venue and organization.

For folks who have been patiently waiting for me to publish all my talks, I apologize for the delay… giving 4 talks + a keynote (plus 3 more talks at Silicon Valley Code Camp yesterday) was a lot more work than I expected. To make sure I can cover the topics and code in enough detail I am going to publish 1 talk plus commentary a day for the next week. Please follow me on twitter or rss to catch the updates as they roll out.
To get you started, here are some of the highlights from JavaOne:

JavaFX is back in the spotlight!

After a year of hibernation, JavaFX is back with a 2.0 release, big open source announcement (more on this below), and mobile prototypes on Android and iOS. For those naysayers who said JavaFX is dead, Oracle has proved that they are going to continue to move the platform forward and support state-of-the art development on Java client technology. As always, Jasper and the rest of the JavaFX team had some pretty impressive demos and the entire Java community was re-energized about the future of client Java.

If you haven’t already, go download JavaFX 2.0 right now! It is available in production for Windows and there is a developer preview of Mac OS X, so you have no excuse for not trying it out today. (unless you are on Linux… but that is supposed to be coming soon too)

The Open Source Petition Was Successful!

Thanks to all my blog readers who spent the time and energy to sign and support the petition to open source JavaFX. In part due to the huge community sentiment about the need to open source JavaFX, Oracle has taken action and promised to open source the entire platform. They are going to start with the controls library as announced last year, and continue to open source the entire platform as part of the OpenJDK project.

This is a huge benefit to JavaFX, which will finally be getting equal treatment with the rest of the Java platform. They are also actively working on getting JavaFX to be fully redistributable, which will remove yet another obstacle to making JavaFX the standard for desktop development.

Community, Community, Community.

Oracle has been listening to the Java community, and put in place many of the changes and suggestions that were raised. This was evident in the entire JavaOne conference, which was a huge improvement over last year’s event. Some of the improvements that I noticed while hanging out at JavaOne this year included:

  • A Community-focused Keynote – While I may have been biased as a participant, I thought the best keynote of the conference was the wrap-up community keynote that Sharat Chander lead. This included some amazing demos by the Duke’s Choice Winners of audible development for the blind and home automation using Glassfish, a spicy panel that had a lot of positive things to say about the Java Community and OSCON Java, and a surprise appearance by the Java Posse who were at 3/4 of their finest! (the 1/4 being poor Tor, the Googler)
  • Community Hang Spaces – While navigating the conference it was much easier to bump into folks you know by hanging around one of the many hang spaces that were built out around the venue. In fact, Dean Iverson and I found ourselves preparing for one of our talks in the hang area, because it was more conducive to collaboration and interaction than the speaker room.
  • Easier Venue Navigation – A couple things contributed to this… One was that all 3 hotels were reserved for JavaOne talks, so you had more talks concentrated in the same vicinity. Another was the plethora of helpful staff directing traffic and answering questions (I made quite a lot of use out of this myself). Finally, the signage and open tent configuration made it much easier to get form Point A to Point B.

And a Few Things to Improve for Next Year…

Everyone has their personal gripes… here are some of mine:

  • Fewer Sponsored Keynotes – When you pay big $$$ to attend a conference, the last thing you want to do is sit in a session and watch a canned talk by a corporate stooge. The Juniper Networks talk was a particularly blatant example of something that was not really focused on the Java crowd tossed in as a sales kick-back. In the future, it would be better to make the sponsors earn the attention of the attendees by labeling the talks as sponsored and giving attendees some alternatives.
  • Better Network Connectivity – It was almost impossible to get on the wifi network in any crowded situation (like a session), and once connected the response times were abysmal. That is until everyone left around Thursday midday and the network started going blazingly fast for those who stuck it out for the last few talks. :)
  • Improved Tech Support on Talks – I listened to the presenter advice and formatted all my slides in 16:9, which didn’t seem to work for the first couple talks that had big black letter-boxes above and below the slides. Also, my first talk had no network connectivity on the wired connection (and as I mentioned, wireless was useless). However, I had to the good fortune of giving way too many talks, so by the time I got to my 3rd and 4th ones they seemed to have figured out how to use the very expensive screen adjustment boxes and got everything tuned just right. Also, the wired network seemed to work fine in all the other rooms I hi.
  • Patching Things Up With Google – This is the second year that Google has refused to let anyone speak at JavaOne. They blame the lawsuit for this, but at some point the policy is more retaliation than just good legal defense. (Is letting Tor speak on stage in a community setting is really going to jeopardize the Android platform?) The real losers in this battle are the average developer who is missing out on great technology and content from one of the most innovative companies in the world.

Overall, JavaOne was a great conference this year, and is definitely back on the upswing. There was mention of improving the venue in the community keynote, and I hope the upper management at Oracle takes this seriously. The 3-hotel setup is not ideal, and really not large enough to contain the Java community. It is time to unleash the Java Community in a full conference venue of its own.

Reference: JavaOne is Rebuilding Momentum from our JCG partner Stephen Chin at the Steve On Java blog.

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