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Jason Lee: Postmortem for JavaOne 2008

Posted by: Joseph Ottinger on Sat May 10 13:01:45 EDT 2008 DIGG
Jason Lee sent in this review of JavaOne 2008, exclusive to TSS. Jason is one of the authors of Mojarra Scales, a JSF library that leverages YUI, and a member of the Sun Bloggers program. His postmortem:

It's Friday night in early May, so that means that JavaOne 2008 is completely behind us. It was a long week, full of great technical sessions and at least as many, it seems, late night parties. In this annual State of the Java Union, there was plenty of news for every Java developer, regardless of your market.

Patty O'Furniture, Please call your office
First off, a minor nit. The thing that struck me as odd as JavaOne kicked off was the character at center stage: JavaFX. If you'll recall JavaOne 2007, JavaFX was announced amidst much fanfare, so I was surprised to see JavaFX play such a major role for the second year in a row. While it has its detractors, I think JavaFX is a pretty compelling piece of technology (the "Why not Groovy" question aside), so seeing the progress made in the last year was interesting, but probably better suited to a technical session, of which there a plethora on JavaFX. To be fair, Sun seems to be pushing Java hard in the media realm, and JavaFX is one their tools for achieving success there, so it's hard not to mention it.

Tiny Java
The general sessions seemed to have a common theme: embedded Java. From the Amazon Kindle, which, to be honest, failed to impress me, to the eminently impressive LiveScribe Pulse and many more, the general sessions touted one Java-enabled device (or card!) after another. The innovation in this space was quite impressive. One device highlighted was Sentilla's pervasive computing platform, the Sentilla Perk. In fact, these tiny Java-powered marvels were literally plastered all over the Moscone Center, giving their monitors a number of interesting metrics, such as room population, allowing, for example, conference organizers to gauge the popularity and effectiveness of sessions by knowing how many are in the room, and when people start leaving, etc. Maybe Rockwell was on to something.

Big and Bigger Java
Not to be outdone by all the JavaME talk, JavaEE and JavaSE were both given ample time to bring the audience up to speed with their respective states. Both specifications have a lot going on, with both expected to release major updates in the first half of next year. JavaEE spec lead Roberto Chinnici gave a quick update on all the balls up in the air for that spec, with impressive demos on what to expect from GlassFish version 3 (more on that in a moment). Danny Coward, the Chief Architect of Sun's Client Software, gave an update on the SE side, discussing the ongoing improvements in Java 6, including some exciting updates on applets (yes, applets. See below) as well as a peek at Java 7. In both specs, a great deal of innovation and change is on the way, so there should be enough to excite just about everybody.

NetBeans means business
One piece of Sun technology that seemed to show up over and over -- other than JavaFX -- was NetBeans. The oft-maligned IDE from Sun took its place on stage, it seemed, at least once per session, with good reason, I think. With the release of NetBeans 6, Sun signaled that it was serious about the platform, and was more than willing to tout its progress. In Friday's general session, for example, "NetBeans guy" Tor Norbye demonstrated the new JavaScript support (available as a tech preview), which includes code completion, error and browser compatibility hints, and a very impressive debugger (part of which is shipped as a Firefox plug-in. Internet Explorer users, who should know better, are out luck for now).

Apart from the explicit demos, various speakers were quick to point out, where appropriate, how their products integrated with NetBeans, something I was glad to see. Many users, and I was once of these, stick with Eclipse because it has all the good plug-ins, or so the conventional wisdom says. NetBeans 6 has a lot of really good stuff to offer, and more vendors than many seem to realize supporting it. If you haven't looked at NetBeans 6, do yourself a favor and go grab the latest version and give it a spin. I think you'll see that it has earned all the time it got at the conference.

They've gone to plaid!
Despite the rancor from some, Sun has long been an open source company, donating more to the open source community than any other company ever. One of its more recent contributions, GlassFish, which comes from a long SJSAS heritage, got a fair amount of attention this week, with two major features being specifically highlighted: its speed and small size, and its embeddability. The GlassFish v3 kernel, based on the Hundred Kilobyte Kernel (HK2), is now blazingly fast at start up, and by blazingly fast, I mean times measured in milliseconds. Of course, it's a server that doesn't really do anything, but that's good, as the server is now completely modular. With it's HK2 foundation, which is now OSGi-compliant, v3 starts only what is needed. In a demo on stage with Robert Brewin, GlassFish architect Jerome Dochez showed how to add an EJB 3.1 container to a running GF v3 instance: the copy command. Without restarting the server, he simply copied the required the jars into a specific directory in his GlassFish directory, and the EJB 3.1 container was almost immediately available.

GlassFish v3 is now embeddable as well. The GlassFish v3 Ruby "gem" was used to show how quickly and easily a GlassFish instance can be started to test a Ruby application. With one command, the server was up and ready to handle requests in milliseconds. While this feature will be a great boon to those doing dynamic language development on the platform, I can see all kinds of interesting uses from in-container testing to dynamic help systems in desktop applications. Sun has much to be proud of. A lot of hard work has gone into the platform, and the EE community has much to gain from it.

Applets minus the "cr"
Walk up to any seasoned Java developer and mention that you're doing applet development, and you're likely to get laughed at. All of that might change, though, with the release of JDK 6 update 10 and the long awaited consumer JRE. In fact, if you scan all of the JavaOne 2008 blog entries, my guess is that you will be hard pressed to find someone who hasn't mentioned the changes in applets. Update 10 fixes the major two problems with applets: slow start up times, thanks to the new browser plug-in and new, smaller kernel; and the supremely annoying habit of taking out a browser should the applet crash. Those days are gone for good. More interesting, though, is the "tearability" of an applet. The user can now grab the top of an applet with his mouse and "tear" the applet right off the page, allowing it to run in its own window. Close the applet, and it reattaches itself to the page, but close the page, and the user is asked if he would like to install the application locally. Doing so makes the browser unnecessary the next time the user would like to run the application.

In my humble opinion, this should be go a long way toward fixing the applet's image problem. In fact, I asked Jonathan Schwartz about that very issue at the Java Blogger Q&A, though rather poorly upon reflection, and he said basically the same thing. What perception remains is no longer valid now that two of the major technical problem with applets have been resolved (there are certainly others remaining, but they're manageable). What remains to be seen, though, is if Sun will be successful in fixing that perception. They seem to be betting the farm on applets for JavaFX's success on the web, so we should see a pretty concerted to get the good word out. At the very least, this news has <em>me</em> excited about applets again.

So long, and thanks for all the fish
At the close of this year's JavaOne, I have to say that I'm pretty excited about the state of Java, which is, I think, the goal of the conference. In every market and niche, from embedded and mobile, to gaming, desktop, and enterprise, Java continues to advance in features, performance, and adoption. If you find yourself lacking challenge in or enthusiasm for your current market, there's ample opportunity in a host of others, and as was seen in several sessions this year, ample opportunity to make your own market. That's one of major the things I'm taking away this year: Java's seemingly unlimited potential, not to mention 14 t-shirts, 2 hats, and lots of gifts for my kids.

--
Jason Lee, SCJP
Software Architect -- Objectstream, Inc.
Mojarra and Mojarra Scales Dev Team
https://mojarra.dev.java.net
https://scales.dev.java.net
http://blogs.steeplesoft.com

Threaded replies

·  Jason Lee: Postmortem for JavaOne 2008 by Joseph Ottinger on Sat May 10 13:01:45 EDT 2008
  ·  Cheeser, ya got there before me ... by David Whitehurst on Sun May 11 22:58:27 EDT 2008
    ·  Re: Cheeser, ya got there before me ... by Joseph Ottinger on Mon May 12 09:17:16 EDT 2008
  ·  Re: Alternatives to "Negative Approach" by douglas dooley on Mon May 12 01:00:12 EDT 2008
  ·  PowerPoint only by V C on Mon May 12 13:11:52 EDT 2008
    ·  Re: PowerPoint only by V C on Mon May 12 13:14:32 EDT 2008
      ·  Re: PowerPoint only by Jason Lee on Wed May 14 20:35:33 EDT 2008
  ·  Re: Jason Lee: Postmortem for JavaOne 2008 by Rich Sharpe on Tue May 13 09:48:26 EDT 2008
    ·  Re: Jason Lee: Postmortem for JavaOne 2008 by Jason Lee on Wed May 14 20:40:49 EDT 2008
  ·  Thank you!!! by Roberto DeVet on Fri May 16 09:10:05 EDT 2008
    ·  Re: Thank you!!! by Jason Lee on Fri May 16 11:00:26 EDT 2008
  ·  Re: Jason Lee: Postmortem for JavaOne 2008 by Ay?e Saygi on Sun Jul 27 13:14:18 EDT 2008
  Message #252316 Post reply Post reply Post reply Go to top Go to top Go to top

Cheeser, ya got there before me ...

Posted by: David Whitehurst on Sun May 11 22:58:27 EDT 2008 in response to Message #252235
Cheeser,

I'm going to do some events next year if I have to sell a kidney. Congrats on the book too!

David (piratepete)

  Message #252348 Post reply Post reply Post reply Go to top Go to top Go to top

Re: Alternatives to "Negative Approach"

Posted by: douglas dooley on Mon May 12 01:00:12 EDT 2008 in response to Message #252235
Jason,

Thanks for this entry, it is good for those of us who could not attend J1 2008 to hear some positive coverage amidst the diatribes of negativity...(side note: man, i just got off of Dave Rosenberg's CNet blog, and cant believe some people)...

I have not been to other conferences in some time, but how can Java 1 be that bad with that many people and that much important software in one setting; i am on the record as being a little skeptical of the front-and-center status that JavaFX enjoys, so there are areas of improvement...

However, with all that Sun has done for Java and OSS, it would seem that some thanks or acknowledgement is warranted; i am still waiting for someone who was there to talk about what the Spring guys said ab/ JEE6, so hopefully that is forthcoming...

but until then, i would just like to say that Sun has done more for more people in the enterprise software industry than any other vendor, it is fashionable to lambaste their revenue shortfalls, perhaps with good reason, but quite another to consider them irrelevant or somehow not "getting it"...

to me, anyone who thinks that Sun's days in software are over, and never amounted to anything beyond Solaris' glory run, are all wet...beyond that, vitriol is another way of masking ignorance, and that statement is as true ab/ Sun's software biz as anything else...

  Message #252370 Post reply Post reply Post reply Go to top Go to top Go to top

Re: Cheeser, ya got there before me ...

Posted by: Joseph Ottinger on Mon May 12 09:17:16 EDT 2008 in response to Message #252316
Cheeser,

I'm going to do some events next year if I have to sell a kidney. Congrats on the book too!

David (piratepete)
Incidentally, wrong J. Lee. :)

  Message #252394 Post reply Post reply Post reply Go to top Go to top Go to top

PowerPoint only

Posted by: V C on Mon May 12 13:11:52 EDT 2008 in response to Message #252235
"What perception remains is no longer valid now that two of the major technical problem with applets have been resolved"

The issues are solved on PowerPoint.

End user deployment, look at this # on the right, vs end user deployment of 6.10.

.V

  Message #252395 Post reply Post reply Post reply Go to top Go to top Go to top

Re: PowerPoint only

Posted by: V C on Mon May 12 13:14:32 EDT 2008 in response to Message #252394
oops, link missing: http://www.onflex.org (for look at the deployment # on the right)

  Message #252442 Post reply Post reply Post reply Go to top Go to top Go to top

Re: Jason Lee: Postmortem for JavaOne 2008

Posted by: Rich Sharpe on Tue May 13 09:48:26 EDT 2008 in response to Message #252235
One underlying reason there have been so many negative blogs on JavaOne this year is that there was nothing sensational released for Java as in previous years (we had the buzz of Java 5 and 6 and JSF etc). I think Sun struggled to fill keynotes with innovative features of the language so decided to go with usage (JAVA + YOU was the theme), hence Neil Young speaking. I think this is the first time Sun have had to bring on a Superstar as opposed to not having enough time to discuss new features and innovations.

Don't get me wrong! I believe Java still has a long lifespan and the efforts Sun are putting into the VM are substantial. One demo showed by just upgrading from Java 5 to 6 (on the same hardware) there was a 20% performance increase and from Java 5 to Java 6 update 10 there was a 68% performance increase which is astonishing.

It was the show, not Java that people seemed to be unhappy with: After 12 years crowd control and lines for sessions is still completely mismanaged, not letting people into rooms for the first morning session when the room is empty seemed ridiculous. Technical speakers also seemed less prepared this year, many just read content from slides and I don’t think I’ve been to a show before where so many demos failed without static back ups in place!! However, a couple of excellent sessions were “Design Patterns Reconsidered” by Alex Miller of Terracotta and “To Boldly Go Where The Java Programming Language Has Gone Before” by Geert Bevin, also of Terracotta.

JavaFX was a key announcement at last years JavaOne and this year I saw some impressive demos but it seemed that a mandate was to at least include JavaFX on a slide in every presentation! Also, a lot of people discussing this topic referenced Facebook apps which is a shame as the day before JavaOne began, Facebook announced that it is dropping Java support which has further fueled the ridiculous rumors that Java is dead!! However this does add to the feeling that this year’s show lost some of the gloss from prior years.

Let’s hope Sun can make it shine again next in 2009!

Richard Sharpe
Enerjy Software
For Software Quality Discussions go to http://www.enerjy.com/blog

  Message #252598 Post reply Post reply Post reply Go to top Go to top Go to top

Re: PowerPoint only

Posted by: Jason Lee on Wed May 14 20:35:33 EDT 2008 in response to Message #252395
oops, link missing: http://www.onflex.org (for look at the deployment # on the right)

Well, I'm not sure what number you are talking about as I didn't see anything about deployment in the few seconds I spend looking, nor do I see how that's relevant to *Java* One. Yes, there are competing technologies that are doing quite well, but none of them are Java. If you are a *Java* shop or developer, then JavaFX/JDK6u10 are likely to be a very attractive offering for those looking for a rich media experience on the web page. Personally, I'd rather not learn Flex if I don't have to. :)

  Message #252600 Post reply Post reply Post reply Go to top Go to top Go to top

Re: Jason Lee: Postmortem for JavaOne 2008

Posted by: Jason Lee on Wed May 14 20:40:49 EDT 2008 in response to Message #252442
One underlying reason there have been so many negative blogs on JavaOne this year is that there was nothing sensational released for Java as in previous years (we had the buzz of Java 5 and 6 and JSF etc). I think Sun struggled to fill keynotes with innovative features of the language so decided to go with usage (JAVA + YOU was the theme), hence Neil Young speaking.

I can see that. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed in that myself. I was told to expect something BIG, and got Neil Young's Bul-Ray project. Cool as that is, as an enterprise developer, it does nothing for me.

It was the show, not Java that people seemed to be unhappy with: After 12 years crowd control and lines for sessions is still completely mismanaged, not letting people into rooms for the first morning session when the room is empty seemed ridiculous. Technical speakers also seemed less prepared this year, many just read content from slides and I don’t think I’ve been to a show before where so many demos failed without static back ups in place!!

Spot on again. This being my first JavaOne, I have nothing against which to compare things, but it did seem a bit hectic in the lines. I also lamented on my blog about the wifi problems, which seemed to trip up a lot of people in the demos. To be fair, though, some of those non-keynote demo/presentation melt-downs aren't controlled by Sun, so if the failure wasn't network-related, there's no one to blame but the speakers. :|

  Message #252769 Post reply Post reply Post reply Go to top Go to top Go to top

Thank you!!!

Posted by: Roberto DeVet on Fri May 16 09:10:05 EDT 2008 in response to Message #252235
Thank you for the nice summary. Very useful to us Java developers.

Java One does not have to always have to have a wiz bang announcement. It can be just about minor improvements. Working for a fortune 100 company, we are not looking for disruptive announcements. We are looking how can Java improve software stability, scalability and support.

Therefore, I specially like that you highlighted improvements made to Java Applets.

-rd

  Message #252774 Post reply Post reply Post reply Go to top Go to top Go to top

Re: Thank you!!!

Posted by: Jason Lee on Fri May 16 11:00:26 EDT 2008 in response to Message #252769
Thank you for the nice summary. Very useful to us Java developers.

Java One does not have to always have to have a wiz bang announcement. It can be just about minor improvements. Working for a fortune 100 company, we are not looking for disruptive announcements. We are looking how can Java improve software stability, scalability and support.

Therefore, I specially like that you highlighted improvements made to Java Applets.

-rd

Thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed the summary.

While a big announcement would have been cool, sort of an Oprah-new-car moment for geeks, it was cool seeing the improvements in areas that I don't work a lot (which is pretty much anything "thick" or "mobile"). Seeing the applet improvements has inspired me to try writing an applet-based admin tool for my personal homepage. We'll see what comes of that. :)

  Message #264633 Post reply Post reply Post reply Go to top Go to top Go to top

Re: Jason Lee: Postmortem for JavaOne 2008

Posted by: Ay?e Saygi on Sun Jul 27 13:14:18 EDT 2008 in response to Message #252235
I have not been to other conferences in some time, but how can Java 1 be that bad with that many people and that much important software in one setting front-and-center status that Java FX enjoys, so there are areas of ...
Java EE spec lead Roberto gave a quick update on all the balls up in the air for that spec, with impressive demos on what to expect from GlassFish version 3 .AND" Danny Coward, the Chief Architect of Sun's Client Software, gave an update on the SE side, discussing the ongoing improvements in Java 6, including some exciting updates on applets (yes, applets. See below) as well as a peek at Java 7. In both specs, a great deal of innovation and change is on the way, so there should be enough to excite just about everybody."WHAT DOES IT MEAN???

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