By Steven Meloan
This JavaOne 2011 offered a week of intense learning, celebration, socializing, and just plain fun.
For Java developers and those working in Java technology, San Francisco became the center of the known universe last week. The theme for JavaOne 2011 was “Moving Java Forward,” and that it did! For those who arrived on Sunday, there was first Java University -- offering both half-day and full-day “deep-dive” training on topics from Java EE and SOA, to Web 2.0, to a Java Certification workshop.
And then came Monday…. Taking place in tandem with Oracle OpenWorld, this year’s JavaOne offered hundreds of expert-led technical sessions, hands-on labs, panel discussions, as well as smaller and more informal Birds-of-a-Feather (BOF) sessions. The morning Keynotes, meanwhile, offered both in-depth and big-picture overviews of all that is Java -- from the Technical, Strategy, and Community perspectives, and featured industry leaders from Oracle, Intel, IBM, Twitter, and more.
Sessions were grouped around seven technical track areas, with each track covering a broad subject range and type (BOF, panel, session):
Core Java Platform
Emerging Languages, Tools, and Techniques
Enterprise Service Architectures and the Cloud
Java EE Web Profile and Platform Technologies
Java ME, Mobile, Embedded, and Devices
Java SE, Client Side Technologies, and Rich User Experiences
The Java Frontier
It was at times difficult to take in all that has been achieved in the last year. The announcements at this year’s JavaOne came fast and furious -- the summer release of JDK 7 (including preview release for Mac OS X), the debut of JavaFX 2.0 (Oracle’s premier development environment for rich client applications), and ongoing progress on Java EE 7 (including taking Java EE into the Cloud). Meanwhile, at Monday’s Technical Keynote, it was pointed out that there are now 5 billion Java Cards in the world --contrasted with a global population of 6.5 billion. And then Tuesday’s Strategy Keynote brought Oracle’s announcement that it will open source JavaFX -- first the components, and then the rest of the framework -- as soon as there is approval from the OpenJDK community. And all the while, the OpenJDK community continues to grow, with recent members including IBM, Apple, SAP, and Twitter.
Java technology has clearly been on a roll this past year. At the Tuesday Strategy Keynote, Rob Benson, Twitter’s Director of Runtime Systems, detailed their choice of Java technology. “We handle about 230 million tweets per day, our streaming API pushes about 6 terabytes of data per day, and our public API serves about 13 billion requests per day. So we wanted a run time that could handle traffic now, and into the future.” Twitter also chose Java because of their need for a runtime to support multiple languages, and that includes a large, vibrant open source community.
A JavaOne tweet exclaimed, “Someone please tell me how to turn my brain off for the night...too many ideas!" JavaOne offered a wealth of technologies, a wealth of ideas, and a wealth of solutions.
And what JavaOne would be complete without the year’s Duke’s Choice Awards, recognizing and celebrating extreme innovation in the world of Java technology. Thursday’s Community Keynote recognized all of the winners, but also offered onstage appearances by representatives of Rockwell Automation, for their Java Embedded factory floor automation solutions, Sodbeans Project, for their NetBeans-based accessibility suite for blind developers, and JHome, a Glassfish/Java EE-based home automation solution, to remotely control almost any device in the home.
Everywhere you turned at JavaOne, developers were engaged in animated discussion --gesturing to make a point, exchanging business cards, recommending upcoming sessions, and trading new development techniques. Never has the lobby of the Hilton San Francisco Union Square seen so many glowing laptop screens and intensely focused faces. And in the Java Exhibition Hall, it was not unusual to find such Java luminaries as Mark Reinhold, Chief Architect of the Java Platform Group at Oracle, chatting and trading technical notes with mingling attendees. Also, an ample supply of strategically located beanbag chairs offered weary developers a place to catch their breath between sessions, check email, or tweet a recently discovered gem of information.
And in an era of social networking, never has it been easier to stay plugged into every facet of JavaOne. Of course there were the JavaOne Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin pages, but this year also saw a JavaOne Mobile App -- for the BlackBerry, Droid, and iPhone platforms. The app offered conference highlights, a schedule builder, links to event locations, links to social networks, maps to area hotels and restaurants, and much more.
We all know what comes of all work and no play. And The Zone at JavaOne offered the perfect remedy -- including the Mason St. Café and its Buzz House, for a morning coffee or an afternoon beer, along with the Community Hub meet-up spot, to chill over a game of PacMan, or recharge with a quick caffeine fix while trading all-important new coding techniques with colleagues. Inside the Hilton was the Candy Bar, for a quick high-energy fix between sessions, the Game Zone, bringing out the inner Pinball Wizard (with all the cacophony and adrenaline of a Vegas casino), and the Animation Station, offering a personalized interactive flipbook generated from live and digital FX generated video (bringing out the inner Super Hero in all Java developers).
For the past several years, JavaOne/OpenWorld has offered a must-be-experienced “Oracle Appreciation Event” on Treasure Island, located in San Francisco Bay. With attendance in the many-thousands, this year’s event featured a full-blown Midway with Ferris wheel, the iconic, Rock-Hall-of-Fame music of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, as well as Sting, performing songs from both his solo career and his days with The Police. As is well known by now, Java developers both code hard and play hard.
But for those who couldn’t tear themselves away from an equally important must-attend BOF or late night session, Thursday night’s “It’s a Wrap!” concert at the nearby Yerba Buena Gardens featured The Five Hundreds band, out of San Francisco, and 80s hit-rockers, Berlin -- delivering “have to dance” sets on the lawn.
Not content with just the cutting edge of technology, JavaOne/OpenWorld also offered a number of ongoing, forward thinking green initiatives:
Recycling, composting, and donation programs kept an estimated 140 tons of material from landfill -- enough to fill about 10 garbage trucks.
60 percent of the event’s food came from farms, bakeries, delis, and waters within 100 miles of San Francisco -- supporting local fare, while maintaining a reduced carbon footprint.
Reductions in onsite paper use since 2007 have saved an estimated 1,373 trees, while eliminating bottled water has helped to conserve more than 800,000 gallons of water since 2008.
…And now it’s done. JavaOne attendees have returned home with newly acquired knowledge, skills, techniques, professional contacts, potential business associations, and even new friendships. But this is not the end. From here, JavaOne/OpenWorld hits the road -- landing first in Sao Paulo, Brazil: December 6-8, and then Tokyo, Japan: April 4-6, 2012. Hope to see you there!
Steven Meloan is a former C/Unix software developer who has covered the Web and the Internet for such publications as Wired, Rolling Stone, Playboy, SF Weekly, and the San Francisco Examiner. He recently published a science-adventure novel, "The Shroud," and regularly contributes to The Huffington Post.