Last year, Java One Day 0 was Netbeans Day, in a cozy hotel. This year, the Java One week started much more grandly, with Community One, at the Moscone Center. There were tracks for a number of open source communities, including NetBeans, GlassFish, MySQL, OpenSolaris. Frankly, I preferred the cozy hotel, but I can see that it is savvy marketing by Sun to have a large-scale free community event.

Ian Murdoch (the ian in Debian) gave the keynote speech. My mind wanders in keynotes, and here were some of its destinations.

Charles Nutter gave an interesting overview of languages that run on the JVM. There were the usual suspects: Groovy, Jython, JRuby, Rhino, Scala, and some more exotic ones. (Note to self: Check out Clojure and see if it makes software transactional memory easier to understand.) Charles' advice: The era of doing everything in a single language is over. Be a polyglot.

Sadly, the Netbeans talks were far from riveting. Instead, I walked off to the exhibit area and had a chat with Winston Prakash and a very friendly fellow from the Prague office about the JSF visual designer. The Netbeans 6.1 editor isn't bad, provided to don't use absolute positioning and ignore the useless backing bean that it insists on generating. But it could be so much better. An improved visual editor is being planned, but apparently JSR 276 is going nowhere. That's too bad. Wouldn't it be nice if you could use your favorite JSF library (ICEfaces, RichFaces, ADF Faces/Trinidad, Woodstock) in your favorite IDE, with visual builder support? It has taken far longer than I expected for these components to appear, but now that they are there, I want to drag and drop them, and not be stuck with the drab standard components. (Check out this blog by my graduate student Ashlesha Patil...)

There was a very nice presentation on EclipseLink. It looks like a great JPA provider, blazing the trail to JPA 2.0 and offering amazing configurability. But it surely takes the prize for the most confusingly named product of the day. Recall that Toplink WateredDown, erm, Essentials, is the JPA provider in GlassFish. The original Toplink is now open-sourced with the Eclipse foundation, hence the name. Where can you find it? In Glassfish 3, which you can install into NetBeans (!). The Eclipse IDE has not yet caught up.

My favorite event was a fun presentation about using robots in computer science education. These aren't your usual Lego robots. They have several processors on board for “cockroach reflexes”, and they can be equipped with a Java-powered SunSpot for its brains. The presenters demoed a nifty development environment based on Greenfoot. You can prototype your robot in the safety of your laptop, and then download the program into the SunSpot to control the actual hardware. There is a maze-solving contest going on at Java One. If you have any brain cycles left for coding at Java One, give it a try!