The conference proper started today. Up until now, there had been a lot of very long sessions, lasting 3 hours or so, i.e., university sessions. Now, not only did the sessions become shorter (i.e., more presentation-like and less lecture-like), but several big guns from the world of programming (e.g., James Gosling, as well as Oracle guys) turned up.
Before continuing, let me reveal that I am the Devoxx conference for one reason only: the El-Menoufiya JUG in Egypt gave me their ticket, since none of their members could make it. Hamada Zahera and the rest of the guys there: you rock and I am honored to be an honorary Egyptian. (Here's a pic of the whole group, me included.)
Now, back to the report. I'd say the announcement of the day or, more correctly put, the absolute bombshell was the off the cuff announcement of closures suddenly being a cool thing for Java after all and, in fact, it appears they'll somehow find themselves included in JDK 7. But more on that later in this report!
The day started with Stephan Janssen, JUG hero of international renown, opening the conference. He presented some interesting statistics about Devoxx 2009:
217 students during student university days
120 speakers (invitation only, hand picked)
56 JUGs (new record), 10 from France
36 different countries
Apologies if any of the above are transcribed incorrectly.
He also spent some time discussing the rather awesome Parleys.com (now in its third year and third major release), where all the talks from Devoxx 2009 will eventually find themselves being made available for free. For those who want immediate satisfaction, they'll need to pay for that luxury. The beta site is pretty awesome:
Coming to Parleys.com in the future: iPhone client, MP4 support, pay-per-view support, credits based, Google Analytics Admin client integration, revenue reporting, and further customizations.
Hard to know what to make of the Oracle keynote. What I liked is the fact that Java seems to be in serious hands. Not necessarily community-oriented hands, since the future of just about everything (e.g., the JCP itself) seems to be up for grabs. On the other hand, a brief mention of actually rewarding community involvement (here I'm thinking actual cash being given to people who make their time available to support open source) can only be a relief to anyone who has started realizing that 'open source' doesn't mean (at all) that the whole world is going to contribute to your project. Giving some incentive to do so, which is what I understood the speaker to, at least, potentially be inferring (from the slightly vague bullet point "encourage and reward community investment") might be a good thing. That doesn't mean that people would be contributing for money, but that the money factor might be an additional reason to support one project over another.
For the rest, the Oracle demos were interesting in some ways, but, as Paris, Java Champion and leader of the Greek JUG (javapapo) put it in a tweet today: "So we have an oracle manager with glassfish tshirt that promotes weblogic and another guy who demos a scala app." That's a summary of that talk, as far as I'm concerned. I.e., it wasn't so clear what any of it actually meant. Plus the fact that the Weblogic DM story was (a) not an open source story nor free and (b) could have been done just as well with a combination of already existing open source and free technologies. But that's the world we find ourselves in, I guess.
I took a lot of notes on this one, largely because the speaker (Mark Reinhold) is so clear and steady in his presentations, i.e., not too fast nor too slow, while always expressing things very lucidly. Nevertheless, I was left wondering who is going to be interested in project Jigsaw in September 2010 (the freshly announced new release date of JDK 7), at which point all the world and their grandmother is going to be on OSGi. Neil Bartlett, in a tweet today (njbartlett), is completely wrong when he says: "Jigsaw is for the JDK, OSGi is for apps. I think even the Jigsaw team recognise that..." Very clearly, the story we were told in the presentation was that Jigsaw is for the JDK as much as it is for individual applications. Furthermore, Neil, what's the point of creating an entire module system that will only be used by the JDK? Sounds like a weird solution to me, especially now that the JDK release is going to be as late as it is (two shifted milestones plus two brand new ones, the presentation today showed). Why not simply drop the whole project of creating a new module system (as GlassFish did with the whole HK2 story, ending up with being on OSGi where they could have been from the start of their modularity project)?
A second interesting, yet odd, thing was the surprise announcement out of nowhere that JDK 7 is going to have closures after all. Great news and maybe best if no one asks too many questions about how that process ended up throwing up this solution! First, we have a whole bunch of proposals, all of which get lukewarm reception. Then, suddenly, like a bolt from the blue, we have "simple closures". (I wonder if any of the existing proposals are called "complex closures". Isn't simplicity the whole purpose of closures in the first place?) OK, the closures will be simple in the sense that there will be no non-local return, no control statements, and no access to non-final variables. Still, how was that decision made? Alex Miller (Closures After All?) asks some good questions. Anyway, as Sven Reimers exclaims in a tweet today (svennb) about all this: "Who cares - we want CLOSURES and we even take simple ones!"
And here's the official proposal for these simple closures.
As is my habit, since I had spent half the day in sessions, I spent the rest of the day meeting people and coding with some of them. Managed to get further with the Vaadin visual editor integration scenario, etc. Saw plenty of people (Kirk, Bruno, Wouter van Reeven, Dave Booth, et al) for the first time at the conference and hope to see more of them in the coming days. I'll be carrying a movie camera with me, hopefully I'll be able to take a few short interviews with people at the booths and anyone else, for publication on Javalobby!