A Final Report on JavaOne 2007, Page 3
I admit that I missed the Oracle keynote due to an extremely late night, but understand that Oracle announced a preview of JDeveloper 11g. I did see the Motorola keynote, which had some very interesting points to make, and promised a future rich with G3 networks and always connected Internet devices. I was vaguely hoping for some bombshell announcement that they would be shipping Java FX mobile devices by month's end but that was just wishful thinking on my part.
James Gosling's Toy Show
I don't know if you will remember back a couple of years, but Sun demonstrated a 3d desktop environment called Project Looking Glass that showed a lot of promise at the time, and then went very quiet. As it turns out, development was still happening around this project and the result is Project Wonderland.
While still early days for it, Project Wonderland has fantastic potential. It is a lot like Second Life from Linden Labs, but with some important advantages for business use. For one thing, you can have real voice conversations. Walk up to people talking, and the sound will fade up until you are joined in the conversation (they will hear what you say as well), walk away and it will fade down until you can't hear them any more.
This feature alone would make Wonderland a lot more useful for business than Second Life is, but there is another, even more important one. Surfaces in Wonderland can be a host to a running application, for example your office desk could have a browser running in it. Multiple people in the vicinity can then control this application. Just think of the potential - two developers in different countries could meet face to face, discuss design or code issues, and actually peer program using the same IDE application on the wall of the virtual office they are in!
I also enjoyed the NetBeans demo - there are a lot of new features in NetBeans 6.0 and this demo covered a dizzying number of them, almost incidentally. The robot demos were good too - dancing robosapiens and the fastest accelerating robot in the world (which drew a line sketch of a picture of James Gosling).
If the vitality of either Java or the software industry as a whole can be judged in any way by the amount of free stuff given away at booths, then either Java or the software industry (or both) are in good shape right now. The first few hours of Tuesday seemed to be a swarming free-for-all (literally) of people lining up to pick up T-shirts, mouse pads, CDs, things with flashing lights, key fobs and all of the other good stuff grouped under the "swag" moniker. Fortunately things calmed down after a few hours and then it was possible to see the pavilion and the booth exhibitors for what they were.
For anyone that hasn't been to JavaOne, exhibitors run from having their own villages (themed booths grouped together) to having fairly generic looking small quarter booths. Some of the high points from looking around the pavilion included Fortify software - who had the man from "Hackistan" raising awareness of exploits and security issues, the java.net community booth with constantly running tech talks throughout the pavillion opening times and the Sun open-source projects corner. Of course, singling these out is to do an injustice to the many other vendors (I got to see nearly all of them), but these are the ones that left an imprint on me. There was also a "Project Blackbox" planted in one corner - this is a portable data center that Sun makes, basically a large shipping container packed with network and server hardware. Just plop it down, hook up power, water (for cooling) and networking, and you have a super computer or instant Internet node. This felt like a little bit of a missed opportunity to me though - it was good to see it, but there really wasn't anyone to talk to about it when I visited - just a train of people walking through, oohing and aahing, and then moving on to the next exhibitor.
The pavilion is a great place to walk through at JavaOne. Some of the most new and experimental stuff you will see at JavaOne can be found in the pavilion - from folks who either didn't get a technical session accepted, or maybe weren't organized enough to even get one together, but who have compelling products or technologies nonetheless. It is also the perfect place to rub shoulders with anyone you can think of - everyone is equal in the pavilion, you might find yourself having a conversation with someone delivering a not-to-miss technical session later in the day.
One more thing of note from the pavilion - the slot car competition was running again - this is a challenge to use Java to control a slot car on a timed lap of the track and get the lowest time. This was a popular attraction last year and appeared to be just as popular this year, so I suspect they will be back in the future if you want to test your control skills (or try your luck if you prefer).
BoFs and Parties
Sometimes there is not as much of a difference between BoFs and parties as you might think (especially when you roll in the unofficial un-BoFs which also spring up organically around JavaOne). This is the nightlife of JavaOne - a combination of geeking and having fun - usually late into the night (or early morning). While the legendary Borland party was nowhere to be seen this year (if it did happen, I wasn't cool enough to get an invitation), there were some good parties and networking events. As always (and particularly this year) getting enough sleep is the real problem.
Some of the best value came from the evening events, if you do attend JavaOne, definitely try to stay in a hotel near the event if you can as this will let you get the most value out of these late night happenings. They can also be invitation only and exclusive through to open to anyone and thrown together at the last second. Again, if the vitality of the nightlife is any indication, we seem to be in another .com bubble or upturn.
The trend of the last few years, that of an expanding and more energetic JavaOne, continued this year. While it is not up to the size and excitement of the .com years (around 1999 and 2000), some of that is returning year by year. JavaOne is still the largest single developer conference in the world and it shows.
The addition of the CommunityOne day this year was a real plus. I hope it continues in future years. I wonder, since it is free admission for that, if it won't get as big or bigger than JavaOne itself in time. Certainly it is a great way to touch the Java community if you can't get a ticket to JavaOne (and I can understand that problem as an individual or for small startup companies).
One more thing, if you weren't able to make it to JavaOne this year, or if you did but missed Technical Sessions you were interested in anyway (I know there were many I missed), the slides and hands on labs are already available and the multimedia versions (with the voice-over by the presenter) will be available soon too.
About the Author
Dick Wall is a Software Engineer at Google based in Mountain View. He also co-hosts the Java Posse podcast - a regular Java-centric news and interviews show which can be found at http://javaposse.com.