Javapolis 2007 - The Techie Bits


I’m just back from Javapolis in Antwerp. Javapolis is a conference put together by the BEJUG, Antwerp is a big city in Belgium and the second largest seaport in Europe . For a conference put together by a group of folks that are not pro conference makers, it was pretty impressive. The fact they have kept the price down to less than €300 is particularly amazing.

I was there to check out the conference, but even more importantly to get to have a chat with some of our new committers on the Eclipse SOA Tools Project. We’ve had a number of new components just added to source control (more about that in another entry) and now I was getting the chance to meet some of these developers for the first time. Even better, I got to hang out with Bruce Snyder, open source aficionado extraordinaire, and Stephen McNamara, a buddy of long standing and enterprise survivor.

First off the bat I had a chat with Mark Little whom you may know from JBoss ESB and the world of transactions in general. We marvelled at how world+dog is currently refactoring their {insert runtime tech of choice} to be composed platforms using OSGi bundles. This is going to be very interesting as it will open up the containers, which will hopefully bring more control to the customer platform developers on the one hand, and introduce with the other a whole raft of new interoperability issues :)

James Gosling’s keynote was a round-up of everything that has happened in Java land for the last year. It’s easy to see where his interest lies - realtime java and the spread of java-controlled devices, using SunSpots and similar tech. He also spoke of the mobile services architecture (JSR248) and how that was to be a “grown-up CLDC”. I polled a few individuals over the next few hours and there was a keen interest in seeing how Google and the OHA will eat Sun’s lunch on this one.

Key point for me was that mobility is coming of age at last, something like 2 years after we pulled our enterprise-mobility product. Timing is everything after all.

Netbeans 6 hit the presses during the week, and James was keen to point out some of the new and shinies in the bag. Enhanced mobility support was one thing, an holistic Java model that makes for keen context-sensitive refactorings, REST service development tools and advances in report design and generation were some of the things he mentioned. I’ll be looking at the REST tools, because we are developing REST tools in STP too, but the Eclipse refactoring and reporting facilities seem to be at least a couple of years ahead in terms of feature comparison. I’ve not using the mobility gear in Netbeans or Eclipse, so no comment on that.

He also mentioned JavaFX, and later on in the week I attended a talk/demo on it. It looked faintly interesting until I spoke to the guy sitting next to me. He had attended a talk at OSCON where the JavaFX demo was followed up by a Flex demo which blew it out of the water totally - the SUN demo person looked pretty squirmy by his account. Flex is very very impressive, but perhaps JavaFX may beat it on the phones.


The guys from OW2 had a talk about all of the stuff that they have and how it can all be linked together. It had BPM, BAM, SOA, portals, workflow, monitoring and all other aspects of the enterprise buddha nature. My poor brain filled up early in the talk, so I will need to look into it in bite-size chunks later. I'm delighted that Eclipse STP counts among its committers a number of individuals that are involved in the OW2 community-- Christophe Hamerling, Adrian Mos, Andrea Zoppello, to name but a few and of course Alain Boulze, who is an STP PMC member.

In between the corridor work I managed to get to a few more talks. I experienced a good quality brain melt at Joshua Bloch's closures talk and attended a very informative talk on JSR311 and REST from Paul Sandoz. Andrea Zoppello did a very interesting demo on going from BPMN to runtime monitoring at the Eclipse stand and I got to catch up with the Eclipse stalwarts Wayne Beaton and Ralph Müller. In the photo below you can see the inimitable Bruce Snyder being totally mobbed by adoring geek fans after his talk on ServiceMix and Camel. [Note - picture is blurry due to awesome flux of worshippon particles]


If you are in the market for a Java conference, and a bit short on budget, Javapolis is well worth your while, methinks. I would just ask them to do two things for next year - first, open up the program to allow submissions from whoever wants to submit java related stuff; second, put some evaluation sheets out there guys! That panel with Bloch, Gafter, Gosling, et alii was really really terrible! Having Bloch and Gosling waffle on about unsigned int for nearly 20 minutes was a total waste of time. Got to hand the beachball of blame to the moderator there - should have put the squeeze on them, Carl!

For photos, hit Flickr with a keyword search on JavaPolis.