“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . .” and so begins Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities as well as this Tale of Two Technologies. For at JavaOne, indeed it seemed like the best of times with mostly exciting Keynotes (please, not Microsoft!), technical talks, and, my favorite, well-attended Hands-On Labs. The less-than-normal attendance made lunch-time so much more pleasant, although tearing off the requisite lunch tickets continued to challenge the most nimble of fingers. I was never herded into an overflow room nor ever denied entrance to even the most popular presentations.
But the worst-of-times feeling loomed large for many attendees, despite the ease with which we negotiated the underground maze of Moscone. Book sales at the Digital Guru book store were down by more than 50% from previous events (not just JavaOne—other technical shows as well). And the recent announcement of the Oracle takeover of Sun Microsystems, although perhaps a less troubling result than a Big Blue ownership, created a heavy cloud of dark unknown. What will happen at Sun Microsystems? What path will Java take? Is this the last JavaOne as we know it?
Following the long escalator down into the show, bean bag chairs dot the floor space in front of the nostalgic Night Hacks Diner mural, where James Gosling sporting a half-smile shares a cup of Java with Duke behind the counter. The Linux Penguin and the Dolphin (is this the Dolphin Express-MySQL bundle?) sit nearby. Is this meant to be some last-time gathering of close friends as they each make their separate ways into the world? And Scott McNealy’s reminiscent-laden Keynote sounded eulogy-like. Take heed, rumor has it that Sun Microsystems has a paid contract with Moscone for 2010. But, that’s no guarantee, mates.
But back to my tale of two technologies. The biggest buzz of the conference was JavaFX. There were multiple hands-on labs, technical talks (I went to them all), and demonstrations at Keynotes featuring JavaFX applications. On the Pavilion Floor, there were the JavaFX-based App Store and early-stages-under-development slick JavaFX App Builder. Two JavaFX books make their debut at JavaOne (Essential JavaFX, ours, was one) with several more books in the works. JavaFX was the technology darling at JavaOne 2009. As both an attendee and book author, it was exciting.
The second technology I tuned into was zembly. As one of the co-authors of Assemble the Social Web with zembly, I have been involved with this Sun Microsystems-based technology since the fall of 2007. I have built widgets, data services, and Facebook applications. I have seen zembly grow and improve and I love it. We presented a zembly Hands-on-Lab at JavaOne this year. It was completely full and all participants received a detailed introduction to this amazing site. They all saw how easy it is to build (and zembly hosts!) Facebook applications. People want to know how to hook into the social-based application market. It’s new and young and the under-30 crowd seemed especially interested. zembly’s presence at JavaOne included one book debut (ours), one hands-on-lab, one technical talk (Todd Fast and Jirka Kopsa whipped up a Facebook application with amazing speed), and one station in the cavernous Sun Microsystems exhibit space. True, the product is officially in Beta, but it is a very mature Beta.
Bottom line, I’m waiting for the rest of the world to notice zembly. It’s something worth looking into. And, we all wish for the continuance of the Good Times for JavaOne.