JavaOne 2011 Day 0

Once again, I got a blogging pass to JavaOne—my fifth year as the intrepid reporter at JavaOne, and my 15th JavaOne attendance. Sadly, that wasn't enough to get me the coveted Alumni badge—my email address wasn't in the right Oracle database, and showing my previous conference blogs didn't impress the conference staff. I complained to Sharat Chander, the marketing person at Oracle who is responsible for the tech tracks at JavaOne, and he told me he can't get an alumni badge either.

Oh well, I thought, at least I have a shiny press badge. But when I ran into Alex Buckley, the spec lead for the Java language at Oracle, he had one look at it and told me in no uncertain terms that he wasn't going to be able to tell me anything at all—the Oracle engineers had been explicitly warned not to talk to the press. That's going to make it pretty hard to be the intrepid reporter.

There was a Java champions event with more challenges—the dreaded non-disclosure agreement. I learned interesting stuff that I will only be able to divulge when everyone else already knows about it. Watch this space in the coming days.

I was delighted to run into Stephen Chin, a fellow Java Champion who is the leading force behind ScalaFX, a Scala DSL for JavaFX. (I can't yet tell you why you might care about JavaFX—watch this space.) I always thought that the now-abandoned JavaFX  Script was a step in the wrong direction, and that a DSL in Scala and/or Groovy was the way to go. Sadly, he said that his pleas to get some API weirdnesses fixed fell on deaf ears with the FX team, for laughable reasons of backwards compatibility. He fixed them anyway in the Scala DSL, so that's the place to turn for a sane API.

The GlassFish folks had a presentation of upcoming features, followed by an “unconference”. It  is pretty amazing how far GlassFish has come over the years. A series of speakers extolled its virtues of great performance, ease of configuration, scalability, and support of the EE standards.  An engineer for ESPN described how they started using GlassFish as a better Tomcat, and then they just used the EE features because they are already there, instead of fussing with Spring. That's exactly how I feel about it. GlassFish gives you one-stop shopping, so why use Spring to laboriously assemble the pieces? And if Oracle stops improving GlassFish (of which there are no signs—they are doing a great job with it), there is always JBoss. What's not to like? The presenters were unanimous. (1) The command line interface and the REST interface are great, but the bugs in the admin web interface haven't been fixed in years, and (2) the logs are still filled with the Stack Trace from Hell.

Johan Vos griped about the fact that every Java EE project has to rewrite a good chunk of boring routine code, such as user management (signing up, password reset emails, logging in through Facebook or Google, etc. etc.) It's not something that is likely to get standardized through a JSR, but perhaps there could be GlassFish Extras, just like there have been Swing or JavaFX Extras. It would be great if that idea would take off.

There was a JCP presentation, showing off the latest process changes that hopefully will bring much-needed transparency to future JSRs. Some JSRs have always been great about operating in the open, but others have a mixed record, collecting input through public channels but making critical decisions in smoke-filled rooms, away from the public eye. It's a thankless task to develop procedures for standards committees, and I am glad Patrick Curran and his crew keep at it.

In the evening, the GlassFish party at the Thirsty Bear provided much-needed relief. James Gosling showed up, talking about his new career. Tomorrow, the conference will start in earnest. Watch this space for details!