June 2, 2009

JavaOne: Day 1

snowmanlabWhew. Technically it's still only day one of the JavaOne conference and I already feel like I've put in a week's worth of energy. I just returned from running the Project Snowman hands-on lab this afternoon. It was moderately successful with a few painful and time consuming hiccups - more on that in a minute. First though, another quick rundown of my day:

The keynote was great. Chris, of course, kicked off the event and introduced the DarkChat application that will be running throughout the conference. It's basically a simple social networking tool that shows off JavaFX. The other thing about it, though, is that the backend is built on Project Darkstar, and Keith is the one who had been spending a lot of his time recently getting that put together. Chris also snuck in a plug for the Project Darkstar sessions during that intro (the Project Snowman lab was completely full this afternoon).

After that, obviously, he yielded to CEO Jonathan Schwartz who ran most of the show. There were several announcements, including preview releases of JDK 7 and J2EE 6 and updates to JavaFX. Perhaps the most interesting, though, is the launch of the Java Store beta program. The Java Store is essentially a distribution mechanism that taps into the huge install base of Java to deliver Java applications to consumers in a consistent manner. Think iPhone's app store except replace iPhone users with Java users. Now, the concept behind the Java Store is not a new idea, but packaging and distributing Java applications has always been sort of a funny animal. I actually think this is a great initiative and hope it takes off.

After the keynote, I attended two sessions. The first was on using Java on game handhelds. This session caught my eye because the description claims that they were able to connect a Sony PSP to a Nintendo DSi using a Project Darkstar server as the game backend. Wow that sounds cool right? Well, it is cool, but not quite as cool as you think. What they actually did is hack the PSP and DSi and put their own firmware on the devices which supports JavaME. They then wrote a game client using the JavaME darkstar client and hooked them both up to the same darkstar server. After some finagling they did eventually get a PSP and two DSi clients logged into the same game, but they were not using anything native to the two devices. A ways off from what we'd like to see but still pretty neat.

The second session that I went to caught my attention because Josh Bloch was one of the presenters. For a while now, I've been meaning to get my hands on and read all the way through his book Effective Java. This session further solidified that desire. During the session, he and Neal Gafter analyzed five or six Java code snippets that look correct but actually have tricky and subtle bugs. Not only was the content interesting, but the back and forth banter style presentation format was entertaining and engaging. I plan to attend another of Josh's talks scheduled for tomorrow.
After a break, as I mentioned above, I proctored and ran the Project Snowman hands-on lab in the late afternoon (with the help of Dan, Keith, and a few other proctors as well). Overall, I would say it ran ok. There was one large and unfortunate problem at the beginning of the lab that reeked havoc throughout the remainder of the session. Essentially, one of the first steps in the lab is to install and configure the Maven plugin for Netbeans. Unfortunately, when all 100 people in the room tried to do that, we overwhelmed something on the network (whether it was the outgoing pipe in the room, the Netbeans server, or what who knows). Getting Maven up and configured for everyone took a while, and once it was up, network connectivity issues continued to plague the attendees as Maven would occasionally search for artifacts on the network causing it to pause or hang during builds. The result is that running the session was not very smooth as I and the other proctors (special thanks to them btw) spent most of the time running around the room debugging these annoying Maven issues rather than Project Darkstar issues. Regardless, though, I think many people did enjoy it and they were given all of the materials that they need to try to complete it on their own.

So that was my day. There's another session tonight on the Java Collections Framework that I'm currently signed up to attend. But first, dinner.

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