Ok, well this is coming a bit late I realize, but we have been quite busy working on a surprise for the ThinWire community, so I haven’t had a good moment to sit down and tell everyone about our JavaOne experience. As for the surprise, details arriving soon… in another post.
As a basic exhibitor at JavaOne, we didn’t get to attend the actual sessions. This is a departure from the other conferences where you’re usually given at least one full conference pass. In the end, it probably wouldn’t have mattered that much though because I’m usually too busy talking to people about the framework to spend time in any of the conference sessions. The good news is that unlike my New York experience, I had someone along to help out. In this case it was Brian Shaw, the CCS company CEO & President. I guess it figures that he’d leave me hanging at the other shows and only pop in for an appearance at the biggest show… hehe, he knows I’m kidding. Brian has long been a major supporter of my teams effort to bring this framework to the people. In any case, here’s what the startup booth on the Pavilion floor looked like with the new and updated splashy ThinWire graphics:
Like the other conferences I’ve been to, the first day was the the toughest. Usually it’s more hectic because you’re getting setup, you’re double-checking everything to make sure everything is working and you’re warming up your “Hey! Have you heard about ThinWire!” speech. In this case, the pavilion floor was open from 10am till 8pm the first day and we had a strong stream of visitors to our booth all day long. We gave out well over 100 fliers and held countless conversations. I thought for sure I was going to loose my voice due to all the conversations I was having. One thing that I found interesting was getting reminded throughout the day that not every Java developer writes web applications. It was definitely the largest contingent there, but there were a surprising number of mobile and embedded developers at the show as well as some big name companies that had embedded Java products. Here’s a few of our direct neighbors:
Another contingent that made a decent showing were various robotics developers. While I got the impression this was more for the “cool” factor than anything too practical, it was still neat to meet some of these people and see what they had done:
The first is a submarine that sits in the tang you see behind it. I was talking to the guys and they were having trouble getting the WiFi connection between it and their computer working (WiFi overload), so instead they were using a hot glue gun to attach an actual cat5 cable to the robot directly… hmm… cat5 and water. I saw the thing running later on, so I guess they got it working. The helicopter on the right just sat on display the whole time, nothing to fancy. The robot below claims to be the fastest robot in the world… I guess at drawing pictures, but I’m not too sure that Java has anything to do with it’s speed. Gotta love the hype machine!
While at the conference, I met up with a number of interesting people from some of the other big Java and open-source companies. In particular, I had a good conversation and provided many demos of ThinWire to various people from JBoss that wandered over to our booth. They seemed really impressed with what we were doing… and at one point Ram Venkataraman, Director of Product Management, showed up to get a preview as well. So don’t be too surprised if one of their initiatives suddenly starts to look something like ThinWire In truth, we might be talking to these guys more in the future.
I also made it a point to stop by the Interface 21 booth and speak to some of their folks. If you don’t know this, Spring is a great alternative framework to Java EE and a couple people I personally know have integrated Spring with ThinWire to create a powerful solution. One of my friends runs a local Spring User Group here in the Dallas area and happens to have met Keith Donald, the Spring principal I spoke with. In any case, I drug Kevin to our booth and warmed him up to the ThinWire way. He arrived somewhat begrudgingly, but by the time he had to leave, the other Spring guys had to drag him away reluctantly! (I exaggerate a bit… but hey… at least he was impressed with the framework).
Another cool person I met is Greg Wilkins of WebTide. The brains behind the Jetty Servlet engine. We’ve been very impressed with Jetty for quite sometime now because of it’s small size, super fast speed and it’s Servlet spec enhancements that make true Ajax Push a possibility. At some point we’d like to explore the changes that are necessary to enable this feature in ThinWire when you’re running on the Jetty platform.
Finally, I ran into Chris Richardson, the author behind “POJOs in Action”. Chris has experience with some of the concepts that we use in ThinWire and he finds the approach to be very powerful. We spoke with him for a bit and showed him the usual fair of demos. He apparently liked what we had because he went back home and started getting to work on a project that uses ThinWire with the Groovy scripting language. Here’s the first part in a blog post he recently did about his efforts.
Here’s the classic JavaOne bean bag picture:
We had a great time talking to everyone at the conference. The audience at JavaOne is exactly the kind of people who would be interested in the framework and everyone who did web development that stopped by to talk to us was quite amazed by ThinWire. We even ended up with a couple people who just couldn’t get over it and hung around all slack jawed as they repeatedly said how they couldn’t believe what we were doing. Not sure I’d call those people groupies, but if there is such a thing in the software world, I guess that would be it. In any case, we are always happy to see that kind of feedback as you might imagine.
Now if Sun could just get over themselves and wake up to the realities of the web & Ajax… I mean seriously, they wouldn’t shut up about JavaFX… as if repackaging an Applet with some new features is going to offer a superior solution. If you follow the hype machine they’ve been fueling, they essentially claim that JavaFX will kill Ajax… uhh… yeah… good luck with that Sun… cause you have a great record recently of making some great strategic decisions. In any case, maybe I’m just venting because they didn’t pick ThinWire for a Duke Choice award and instead picked… well, other projects that I’m sure are way more worthy, but I’ll let you all be the judge of that.
We wrapped up the conference on the last day by doing an interview with our friends at Sys-Con TV. They fit us in before the conference floor open because we had to catch an early flight back. Neither Brian or I are very lively in the interview because it was so early… and then my cell phone goes off in the first minute (*doh*)… but other than that it was a good end to a great conference.