The first JavaOne, organized by Oracle is now finished. This was definitely a JavaOne very different from those of the past. In fact, I think it is symbolic of how Oracle will operate the Java community moving forward. Some observations from the new JavaOne.
A Crappy Location
<rant>JavaOne was held in the Hilton Union Square; the worst location for a conference I have ever experienced. The hotel is a maze of hallways, stairwells, locked doors and general chaos. It was easy to get lost, most hotel staff didn’t know where things were and if they did the directions were so complicated it was useless. The exhibit hall was cramp, dingy and pretty unappealing. There was limited place to hang out or sit to have conversations. They did have a ‘hang out’ lounge in a tent on a street in downtown San Francisco. The tent was on a hill so you had to position your chair to not get the feeling of being on an angle. Not ideal for great conversations.
The conference location is important to creating a positive networking atmosphere. The Hilton was a negative for any atmosphere. To top it off the wifi was useless but I digress. Oracle please please find a better location for JavaOne 2011. </rant>
The JavaOne keynote was a pleasant surprise. Thomas Kurian did a good job setting the objectives and roadmaps for the future of the Java platform. His keynote was heavy on detail and light on hype. You got the impression that Oracle had a plan and was ready to execute. Something Java developers need to hear.
I was never a big fan of the Sun JavaOne keynotes which were heavy on hype and light on details. This was the best JavaOne keynote in the last 3-4 years.
During the keynote, Kurian reaffirmed Oracle’s commitment to the key Oracle Java open source projects. Given the state of OpenSolaris this was needed. However, their was no mention about building open source communities or reforming the JCP. My impression is that Oracle will act as a software vendor that uses open source for better product delivery but Oracle will remain very much in control.
Obviously, I am a big believer of independent vendor neutral open source communities, so this is disappointing. I think Java would thrive under such a structure. However, I respect that it is Oracle’s decision to make. In the past, Sun would often talk and hype their plans for building open source communities but in reality rarely deliver.
Did Oracle Listen?
Before JavaOne, I had five things Oracle needed to do for Java. Good news, they did do some of them. They did kill the JavaFX Script language. The concept of the new language was why I never understood/liked JavaFX. Making JavaFX a set of Java apis that allows Java developer to create RIA style applications makes good sense. This will make it easier for quicker adoption by the entire Java community. Unfortunately, it would seem JavaFX will now compete with things like GWT, RAP, etc. but competition is good.
OpenJDK did get more exposure in the keynote and the Oracle press releases. They could do a lot more on the promotion side but as Dalibor Topic tweeted it was a lot more than Sun had every done. However, there was no discussion on governance or community. Lets hope Oracle makes more progress than Sun did in terms of community governance.
Unfortunately, there was no mention about the TCK for Apache. Their mobile strategy still talks about billions of devices but no compelling technical vision forward. Lets hope both issues get resolved over the next year.
Being Pragmatic about the Future
One thing Sun did very very well was developer marketing. Sun knew how to tap into the passion of developers to get them excited. They shipped great technology and the technologist loved it. Oracle tries to do developer marketing but it is not in their genes. Oracle excels at marketing business solutions and making money, lots of money. This is not necessarily a bad thing for the future of Java.
Oracle is not Sun, so we have to expect a new Java community and a new JavaOne. I expect JavaOne and the Java community will be more about Oracle, the Java platform and less about the Java industry that includes other companies. JavaOne will continue to be a great Java conference but less of an industry event. Oracle is clearly dedicated to the Java platform and technology, has the resources to invest and the ability to ship product. Pragmatically this could be good for the future of the Java platform but it just might not be as fun.
I’ll be going back to JavaOne next year. Lets hope it is in a better location.