November was a busy month, primarily because it seems that it was the most popular month to organize a European Java conference. I guess this makes sense, as it’s just after JavaOne, so there are various new things to discuss and it’s not a holiday season (Europe is untroubled by any form of Thanksgiving). It’s also late autumn, which makes it an ideal time to spend all day in a dark room since it won’t be much different outside.
I thought it would be interesting to write up a summary of the conferences I’ve attended and my impressions.
- JavaDay Kiev: I’ve not been to this event for a few years, so it was a pleasure to return to a conference I’ve very much enjoyed in the past. The first thing I was struck by was that Andrii, the chief organizer, has significantly increased the size of this conference. This year, there were about 800 developers in attendance and the venue was a new, much larger conference center. The facilities were first class, with lots of room to move around the exhibition area. There were plenty of sponsors and the general feeling was one of experienced developers all gathering to learn about what’s happening in the world of Java. With five tracks, 70 sessions, and 65 speakers spread over two days, there was plenty of content and subject areas to choose from. The organizers also excelled themselves by signing an unusual sponsor in the form of Jack Daniels Whiskey. This provided a great accompaniment to Java discussions at the end of the day.
- Devoxx Belgium: This conference just seems to get stronger and stronger and was sold out earlier than ever this year. The venue is the same one that’s been used for 16 years now — the Kineopolis on the outskirts of Antwerp. There were 3,500 attendees, up to eight simultaneous tracks, and a wealth of high-quality presentations to choose from over three days (five if you include the workshops at the start of the week). Aside from the great selection of technical content was the opportunity to network with both attendees and speakers. This, as much as anything, is the best way to find out what’s really happening in the world of Java. There were plenty of positive comments on the new release cadence for the OpenJDK project and other recently announced changes. This was the tenth time I’ve attended Devoxx (or Javapolis as it was called when it started). Definitely not my last.
- Devoxx Morocco: Now part of the Devoxx family of conferences, it was the first time I had attended this event since it changed from being JMaghreb. It was another very well-attended event with 1,200 attendees, 150 sessions, and 100 speakers. What also impressed me about this event was that there were attendees of 37 different citizenships at the conference.
- German Oracle User Group (DOAG) Conference: This is very much like a European version of the Oracle OpenWorld event that happens in California at the same time as JavaOne. This is organized by a large number of user groups, including a significant number of Java User Groups based in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. These are the same people who organize the JavaLand conference. Again, a huge turnout (I didn’t get details of numbers and it would be difficult to break it out into Java versus non-Java attendees). Although not focused primarily on Java, I had great attendance at my sessions (the second one a little less, but I was near the end of the day and was competing against free beer being offered in the exhibition area).
Several common things strike me about these conferences:
- The number of attendees at Java conferences keeps going up, not down (except Devoxx, which is always at full capacity).
- The quality of the speakers and session content remains consistently high, with a great variety of subjects. Although there are many of the usual suspects at these conferences (including myself), it is good to see new speakers being given the opportunity to share their passion.
- There is no overall aging of attendees. This is the most significant feature since it shows that young developers are continuing to see value in Java as a skill and driving its continued adoption.
Based on this, I do not doubt that Java will continue to be the most popular development platform on the planet for the foreseeable future.