For me the highlights were the talk by Joe Winchester and getting a better understanding of the state of play between Rails/JRuby/Grails/GWT. On the former, it was great to be inspired to make better user interfaces and to think harder about how to make the user’s experience that little bit better. On the latter, it was good to look in the eyes of the people who are driving these technologies and get a feel for where they are going. I have to say that at this stage I am backing either JRuby or GWT. GWT for the obvious reason that with Google behind it, you aren’t going to go far wrong. The software is amazing. On JRuby, I base my opinion on a far less obvious reason – momentum. It just feels like the JRuby guys are really getting places and have the implicit support of Sun (they are now employees so that s a fairly big sign). By comparison the Groovy/Grails guys seemed pretty defensive and didn’t seem to have the same close relationship with Sun.
The only disappointment of the week was the limited amount of Q&A that went on. The common format of most sessions was:
- Let me explain the technology in basic terms (often the same concepts in many presentations)
- Let me do a ‘hello world’ example with no real functionality
- Session ends and everyone runs off to join the queue for the next session
There were some exceptions to the rule (like the session Ben blogged on Groovy) but overall there was little chance to interact with the presenters. Bit of a missed opportunity in my opinion.
Still, as an opportunity to discover lots of different technologies (particularly projects or tools) it is a great opportunity.
As a final note, here are a few observations from the week:
- It was really interesting to watch the rooms fill out. Seats next to power points first, end of aisles next, seats with buffer zones next, last resort sitting next to another person. You could write a PhD on the packing theory of a room of geeks.
- The attendees weren’t as geeky as I expected. I thought it might be like a week-long swap meet with lots of bad tech jokes and body odour. OK, I did hear one bad joke from a guy wishing the robot wars were between machines running Java and .Net…
- Wow, it is a pretty full-on week. Sessions start at 8:30 and on at least 2 nights we were still there at 11pm. On the last day my brain was starting to shut down (probably evidenced by the quality of my posts in the last 24 hours!)
- There is a massive Java community with a really divergent set of needs. The Java platform is now so massive that you really only hope to be an expert in parts of it. The breadth of sessions was quite amazing, and it is really interesting to see people doing work on software for cable companies, sound analysing, phones, websites, desktops and embedded devices all together at the same place.
Viva la Java!