This event was even more special because the legend, James Gosling himself, was there! 3000+ participants watched his speech live! Javapolis takes place in Antwerp, Belgium, every year since 2004. It is equal, or even better as some say, from JavaOne, in the US. I really had very good time all these five days, from 10th to 14th of December.
Here is my point of view of the event, the program of which you can find here. Unfortunately, there had been 5 parallel sessions so if you wished to attend more than one of them at the same time, then you had a problem.
Day 1 (University day)
I chose to start my day with Maurice Naftalin's “Java Generics and Collections” speech. Maurice is the author with an excellent book with the same title. He presented a deep understanding on Generics issues, what to do and what to avoid, e.g. problems like casts and instanceof, parametric exceptions and problems with arrays. “Never ignore unchecked warnings” he said. Generics may have not had the great acceptance in the Java community yet, but I believe it is one of the positive additions of the language, and if you learn how to use them correctly, you can get great benefits from them.
After the break, I didn't watch the 2nd part on Collections, as I also wanted to watch Sang Shin's “Introduction to Ajax”. Another excellent speaker, Sang maintains the Javapassion web site where he gives lessons in Java for free! If you check his site you 'll see a lot of information in almost every aspect of the language, and all this for free! Sang gave an overview of the main Ajax toolkits like Dojo, GWT, jMaki, JSF 2.0 with Ajax support etc. Amazing to watch this guy on stage.
After the lunch break, I attended “Seam in Action”. Seam is an extention to JSF, and as the speakers said, Seam is the new Struts. E.g. apart from Event, Session and Application, Seam also introduces the notions of Page, Conversation and Business Process. It seems to be a good extension and improvement upon JSF.
In the afternoon, I attended "BPM in action" using SoftwareAG's webMethods software, another tool for Business Process Modelling development. Unfortunately, the demo didn't work and so wasn't demonstrated by the good though speaker, Hilde Janssen.
Finally, I attended JetBrains' "Teamcity" tool. It seems to be an excellent tool for teamworking. Mike Aizatsky, an excellent speaker, demonstrated, using simple and to the point slides, the benefits of using the tool, which is now in version 3 and you can download it for free. E.g. one use of the tool is before the Version Control system, where it checks whether your code compiles before submitting it to version control. This way, you can be sure that only compiled versions are submitted to version control.
Day 2 (University day)
In day 2, the exhibition kiosks were set in place. The conference sponsors, like SUN, Adobe, Jboss, Intellij, Oracle, IBM and others, provided information about their products, and gave gifts to the participants. The participants could also participate in many video games and competitions. For example, the faster driver of a BMW emulator, brought by Cegeka, gained a PSP each day. JavaBlackBelt also had daily competitions; you had to answer 5 tricky multiple choice questions in a limited time. Those who had the best score and finished earlier participated in the finals for a PSP 3. And of course, Adobe, gave away O' Reilly books on Flex 2 and ActionScript. And there were many more gifts from other sponsors. This is the best part of Javapolis I think!
I began my second day with Bruce Eckel's presentation “Thinking in Flex”. Bruce moved to Adobe for those who didn't know. It was great to watch the author of one of the best Java books “Thinking in Java” live on the stage. Along with the help of Christophe Rooms, they presented Adobe Flex. It was a very good presentation and Flex 2 is a very impressive tool that now works with Java as the back end. I wish Java had the same impressive GUI components as Adobe Flex does. I avoided developing in Flash all these years because, however impressive the result of a Flash application is, the code is difficult to maintain. But with Flex and ActionScript you can create impressive Flash applications with a powerful scripting language that is easy to maintain. Even though a proprietary product, I 'll definitely give it a try. The new version of parleys.com is going to be built with this tool!
In the afternoon I watched “Developing software like a band plays Jazz” presented by another legend, Erich Gamma, one of Gang of Four guys. Now employed by IBM, he presented Jazz, a collaboration product for enterprises. Erich addressed one of the main problems in companies today, lack of collaboration, which this tool addresses. Even though I didn't like the presentation, this tool seems to be of great help to software teams. And, it is an IBM product.
Day 3 (Conference day)
After this impressive beginning, the rest of the day continued with a presentation of “SoapUI”, a very good commercial product to test SOA applications, something that was actually missing from SOA apps.
“Google Web Toolkit” gave a nice overview of GWT also through the presentation of OpenSocial, an application developed by GWT.
The afternoon sessions were far more interesting. Instead of “Scrum in practice for non-believers”, Sander Hoogendoom gave a presentation on Anti-management practices or how to make your project fail! An excellent presentation that shows the reality in most software projects, and what to avoid to make your project succeed, or rather fail, in the speaker's words. He successfully presented common syndromes encountered today in project managers, architects, developers etc. The presentaiton is live on parleys.
The last presentation of the day was actually a Q&A with James Gosling, Joshua Bloch, Neal Gafter and Martin Odersky were the speakers answered questions posed by the audience. Not very successful in my opinion though.
Day 4 (Conference day)
The 2nd conference day also started dynamically with a presentation of Adobe Flex by Bruce Eckel, followed by a speech of the Javapolis' creator, Stephan Janssen, who presented parleys.com version 2, built on Adobe Flex, and a keynote on JavaFX by Tim Cramer. We had the chance to see the possibilities of Netbeans 6 in developing mobile applications. Did you know that JME now comes with a games engine for mobile game applications?
After the break, I watched JPA 2.0 by Linda Demichiel, the chief architect of JPA at SUN Microsystems. With 20 years experience in IT, she gave an overview of JPA's new features and future work on it.
After the lunch break, the day was devoted to Joshua Bloch, an excellent speaker and author! The author of the most popular Java book “Effective Java”, changed his initial presentation and gave a presentation on Closures, a feature to be added to Java 7. Closures will allow to pass whole piece of code from one method to another. The speaker presented his skeptisism about this new feature and said that the language has already become too complicated to add yet another such complicated feature. And I wouldn't agree more with him. How many developers actually use most of Java 5's new features? Many still have problems to even understand Generics. Personally, I don't find Closures to be a useful addition to the language. We developers need the language to help us in solving our business or scientific problems in a simple and easy way, and I cannot see how Closures can help us in that. I don't see why to add a feature that will be used rarely or not at all by most of us. I would prefer to see improvements in the existing language syntax, like simplification or best practices of use of the features of the language, properties, even better performance etc.
Emmanuel Bernard gave next a presentation on “Hibernate search” or how to use Hibernate with Lucene to do efficient and effective full text searching.
Mark Janssen, author of “SOA using Java Web Services” book, gave a technical overview of how to develop web services with Java.
The day had the best ending ever with “The Java puzzlers” show by Joshua Bloch and Neal Gafter. Dressed with uniforms from Star Wars, they started their show by “fencing” with their “light pointers”! Each one of them posed alternatively 4 Java puzzlers to the other, and the audience had to answer which one of the 4 multiple answers was correct. These were new puzzlers to be added to “Java Puzzlers” version 2 book. If you haven't got this excellent book yet, what are you waiting for? Many participants bought it with 20% discount from the kiosk in the exhibition hall after this presentation!
This was the best day of the conference, ended with many more gifts, and competitions by the sponsor companies, as this was the last day of the exhibition. The day finshed by watching the movie “BeoWulf”.
Day 5 (Conference day)
The last day of the conference lasted only half a day and was not as good as the previous ones. “Wicket2”, presented by Martjin Dashorst, seems to be another very cool framework for building web applications using simply Wicket scripting language inside HTML for the presentation layer and Java for the business logic. No complicated things like JEE and EJB. Very promising framework which I 'll give it a try.
The rest presentations of the day were not that interesting. I started with OSGi, but I found the presentation rather boring and then left to watch “Innovating with Java” which I didn't find interesting either.
“Testing Driven Development” by the author Lasse Koskela of the book with the same name as the presentation, didn't say many new things to what I already know.
Thus, the conference finished.
A few final comments. The food was awful. An event, or something could also have been organised the last day of the conference to give us a better feeling of the last day and keep up our interest. Free drinks, like coke, sprite, water, even beer, were offered all five days. The exhibition was great!
You can watch all presentations from parleys.com when they become available. But of course, the value is to attend the conference, to live the excitement of these five days, to meet new people with same interests, to participate in the competitions and games, to get all these gifts, T-shirts, Cds, coffee cups, pens, bags etc. This is the spirit of Javapolis. See you there next year.