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JavaOne 2007 – What a great experience!

For the first time ever I attended the JavaOne in San Francisco and I really enjoyed it a lot… the dimension was impressing, the quality of the sessions was really good and the people were open.

Right in one of the first general sessions the host, I think John Gage, invited us to stand up and then let all of us sit down for which this was the first JavaOne, then all for which this was the second one and so on. Half of the people sat down immediately, but still. He invited us: “When you go into a session, make use of the wisdom in the room! Don’t sit alone, talk to your neighbors, use the community at this event!” and really during the whole event you felt this atmosphere!

About the sessions, many were very interesting (Closures by Neal Gafter, Concurrency by Brian Goetz, Lock-Free HashMaps by some extreme guys from a company called Azul Systems selling fast Java appliances with hundreds of CPUs and hundreds of GB Java heap – I talked to them because Java heap memory analysis is currently my topic, DTrace, BCI – frequently used and helpful in profiling, and many more), and some were performed by so called JavaOne “Rock-Stars” like Cameron Purdy. Those guys make their session not only interesting, but an entertainment event. Btw, I liked Cameron’s citations a lot – one was almost on every slide. That’s my hit list, but it’s of course only my taste:

“If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilization.”, Gerald M. Weinberg – Ok, I knew that before, but still
“Real programmers can write Assembly code in any language.”, Larry Wall, Inventor of Perl – True, but sometimes I’d like to know which CPU family he had in mind when he quoted that, good ones like 68xxx or PowerPCs or just the x86 assembly code
“There is no problem that can’t be solved with yet another level of indirection.”, Andrew Koenig – Oh, that’s so true

Another real highlight for me was to meet the JavaPosse guys. I listen regularly to their PodCasts about Java and they spoke at JavaOne once during lunch time and later in a BOF. Meanwhile they have their sessions out as PodCasts and some more PodCasts where they discuss the stuff that was shown at the JavaOne.

Speaking of sessions, together with my colleague Andreas Buchen we had our own technical session at JavaOne about our little “baby”, an Eclipse-RCP-based tool for Java heap dump analysis. Speaking in front of more than 500 people was great, but the beginning was really stressful. We started our session, I made the introduction and my colleague continued to speak and then I looked over to our demo machine and saw the little nice Windows message “Error while reading from memory. Do you want to terminate or debug?”. Wow, that was thrilling! Never ever our tool crashed and now right in our technical session at JavaOne it crashed on the demo machine – Murphy’s law. Nobody saw what I saw – the slides were up on the screens at that moment and I knew that I would switch over to this machine in one minute when my colleague will finish and hand-over to me. I got really nervous, thought what could have went wrong, why the heck the VM process crashed at all – the tool is a normal Java application, nothing more. I restarted the tool, was not sure if I made a double-click and clicked again, feared that it would crash again… you can imagine – quite thrilling. When I calmed down and started to think I understood why the Java VM crashed: We started the tool before the session and hibernated the machine in the meanwhile. Thank you Windows! Sometimes processes don’t wake up cleanly and in this case the VM process crashed. Puh! The rest of the session went great. People didn’t even leave the room! 😉

The next three days after our own session on Tuesday were far more relaxed and I even allowed me the luxury to attend sessions about Java 3D and the like, although this is not my “professional business” – it was just fun to learn what has improved over time. I have to admit that I liked it a lot. JOGL (OpenGL) and JOAL (OpenAL) looked quite good from outside and Jake2, a Java Quake engine, was astonishing. However, turning Java into a game programming language does take some more than that.

Speaking of games and entertainment – I spoke at the JavaOne pavilion to some guy about BlueRay and the “built-in” Java. When I left I had the feeling that this stuff could really make it. The guy said something about the great advantages, like 50 GB instead of 30 GB capacity compared to HD-DVD, but this didn’t convince me much, but having set a standard runtime, Java, for a disc producer could become a really big advantage – it opens up new possibilities. Of course you could pack code and data on HD DVDs, but what then? You need special players handling that stuff. With BlueRay though, you could expect Java to be on each player as runtime. The disc producer or anybody else could provide add-ons for a movie and distribute them via the Internet. They have shown a sea map overlay in Pirates of the Caribbean and I thought, hey, please give me that map for Middle Earth in Lord Of The Rings.

Enough for now. The JavaOne was very well prepared and even after the event itself Sun did some great work: All technical sessions are now online with the audio recordings and transcripts of the speakers. That’s great for all who were not there. Thanks to Sun for all!
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