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JavaOne Day 4 - The Toy Show

The Friday morning general session is something to look forward to at every JavaOne, and this year was no exception. The reason is because James Gosling runs it, and he brings up people to show some of the neatest uses of Java technology you’ve ever heard of; and this year’s “Toy Show” was no exception.

This year’s show was a bit different because it combined the traditional Toy Show with the Duke’s Choice Awards. Integrating the two meant that it wasn’t as fast-paced, with one awesome gizmo or software demo after another, but it also meant that the Duke’s Choice Award winners got a bigger audience than they might have and developers got a look at some things they might have otherwise missed out on.

Ari Zilka, representing Terracotta, accepted the first Duke’s Choice Award for their work in making it simpler to scale Java applications.

Brendan Humphreys, of Atlassian, accepted the next award for Clover, a testing tool that many Java developers use to check code coverage as part of their continuous integration process. The new version also allows you to run just the tests for the areas affected by the code change that triggered the build.

The BlueJ/Greenfoot team, represented by Ian Utting and Paul Henriksen, was brought on stage and James wished them a happy birthday. For ten years BlueJ has been used to teach Java programming to children (and adults) in universities and schools around the globe.

Mark Gerhard, CEO of Jagex the makers of RuneScape, brought a fast motion video showing how they create and test creatures for RuneScape. It turns out that Jagex has written their own version of Maya of Max3D in Java to allow them to model, and test, and deploy the creatures and other content for RuneScape.

Simon Ritter and Angela Caceido, both Technology Evangalists with Sun, gave us a good look at what you can do with Java/JavaFX, a Wii remote, some wood, and a helping of innovative thinking. Go watch the video on this. Especially Angela’s simplified version of the UI from the movie “Minority Report” - it’ll leave you with the desire to go out and build one yourself.

Tor Norbye, Principal Engineer with Sun and member of the Java Posse, gave us a better look at the JavaFX Authoring tool. While it’s not yet in beta, I was impressed with the capabilities Tor displayed and how easy it makes creating a UI using JavaFX. You can even pull up multiple views (representing what the screen will look like on different devices) and tweak them individually to deal with different screen sizes your application will encounter. If you’re interested in JavaFX development, I recommend keeping an eye out for the release of this tool.

Brad Miller, Associate Director of the Robotics Resource Center at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Derek White, Staff Engineer at Sun, accepted the next Duke’s Choice Award for his work on the FIRST Robotics Competition. Brad brought members of the winning team and their robot to demonstrate a little of what FIRST is about, and Derek showed the robot being controlled by Java code executing on his laptop in the NetBeans debugger. Previously, the controlling code was written in C/C++ but this year the code’s been ported to Java and anybody interested in helping kids learn Java is encouraged to get involved. Check out www.usforst.org for more details.

There’s a lot more that went on, including a look at Visuvi’s visual search engine, Manuel Tijerino’s jukebox for startup bands, and Neil Young’s entry in the Automotive X prize competition - a 6,000 pound 1959 Lincoln Continental that runs on electricity. Go check out the video at http://java.sun.com/javaone/2009/general_sessions.jsp

Burk Hufnagel, reporting for DZone
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