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Free Lunch at JavaOne


Today was my first day of JavaOne '09. With our conference materials of backpack, pullover, t-shirt, and mystifying playing cards for some dumb game, was a bottle of hand sanitizer. It's an awesome idea. Tamp down the Swine Flu and whatever that stomach ebola was last year. However, what about deodorant? The attendees smelled worse than in previous years. Free deodorant would give this old conference a kick in the pants.

The conference was...Something. Limp and lifeless? I don't know if it was the usual shuffling around of bad b-o and poor social-distance programmers, or the sort of tired line-up of technical sessions. Maybe it was the absence of the last year's giant screen TVs showing the SecondLife simulcast of the keynote session. This year, the TVs have been replaced with a crudely painted mural of giant lizards eating cities. Is that an Oracle merger allegory of some sort?

There is still the "get your picture taken with Duke" attraction. Who wouldn't want a picture with some poor sucker in a rubber Duke suit?

This year's technical sessions kind of seem a whole lot like last year's technical sessions. These titles illustrate some very familiar themes:
    TS-4817 The Java Platform Portlet Specification 2.0 (JSR 286)
    TS-6887 Service-Oriented Architecture and Java Technology: Level-Setting Standards, Architecture, and Code
    TS-5152 Overview of the JavaFX Script Programming Language

By the way: I'm not actually criticizing any of these talks. I'm sure they were well given, and useful to their intended audiences. It's more like we have
    JSR for a dusty api
    SOA
    JavaFX

It just feels like we're in a holding pattern. We had lots of JavaFX last year because it was the neat new thing, and now, a year later, it's a buzzless alternative to the much buzzier SilverLight and AIR/Flex. It reminds us: Why didn't Sun go for groovy and Swing builders? Why did they cook up another mothership project when the open source projects already had good alternatives? It's sort of like java.util.logging when everyone was using log4j.
This session title is really upsetting:
    TS-6271 Java Platform, Standard Edition: A Youthful Maturity

Oh god. What does that mean? That really chills the pee in me. Java has hit the dead zone. We're now officially in the realm of the walking dead. Java? Meet Mr. Mainframe. What happened? That title sounds like a musical medley segment on the Oscars. I guess Java is close to 15 years old, which is impressive and good, but I don't know. "Youthful Maturity" sounds like "60 is the new 30".

On a more instinctual level, the conference's "energy" was flagging. It feels every so slightly like the closing of an era. Which it is, with the impending sack and pillage of a once proud empire (the Oracle merger, duh). I wouldn't be surprised if there isn't another one. Or if JavaOne gets folded in with OracleWorld next year, or something.

We'll see what tomorow looks like.

To be fair, I went to really good talks today. They were on:
    Hadoop
    Clojure
    Google App Engine
    New features in Spring 3.0

Google App Engine, in particular, really stirred my tanks. I hadn't yet checked it out, but now that I got spoon fed information I should have been looking up myself, I'm ready to go.

The new features in Spring 3.0 are sweet, with a full annotation assault on horrible xml. Mr. Johnson did use an awful lot of buzzwords when he started talking about Spring Roo, which looks a lot like command line scaffolding building in Rails, or Grails, or even GWT, but with some nicer round-trip features. Unfortunately, he didn't really give that much detail. It looks promising.

The DevAppEngine, which you run locally, has me really excited. You can test, debug, and all that good stuff on your local machine. Damn. So nice.

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t (a professional software developer for a big company) writes about software development and stuff. Unix, Java, Groovy, OS X, and lots of open source libraries and tools.