Devoxx 2011 Report

November 24th, 2011

As my tardiness will allow, I have massive blog entry about Devoxx to write. I seem always write a week after the event, because there is so much happening. This year, I presented with Stephen Chin, a university session, three hours long about what a humble Java engineer needs to know about JavaFX 2.0, especially if she or he is new to the technology.

 

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Jo Voordeckers [L] and myself [R]

Jo Voordeckers was one of the first people to get involved with JavaFX Script, about 2-3 years ago. At JavaOne 2009 he had a presentation about JavaFX Script and Parleys and the slides are still available.

 

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View of Antwerp first sunset at Devoxx 2011 from the Astrid. "Blinding with the lights. Dizzy new heights. Has it come to this?". You are listening to JavaFX, lock down your aerial. (Original Pirate Material; The Streets; 2002)

 

Tenth Year

Congratulations to Stephan Janssen, a fellow Java Champion, leader of the Belgium Java Users Group (BEJUG), for organising this wonderful conference, Devoxx, in Europe. It is simply the best Java technology conference in the northern hemisphere now without question. As an event, without less marketing, more technical focus, and value for money for the inspiring developer, designer and architect.

The history of Devoxx started way before I got involved in the Java community. When it known as “Javapolis” it filled a vacuum for engineers who wanted a local European event. Sun Microsystem’s lawyers who claimed Java trademark infringement eventually caused Javapolis to be renamed, first, to “Javoxx” and then finally to Devoxx. The conference grew in popularity such that it regularly sells out 3000 participants quickly.

Travelling to JavaOne in California, especially when that event was held at San Francisco technical conference Mecca, the Moscone Center, for many was prohibitively expensive, even back in the good bountiful times during the “noughties” (pre-subprime financial collapse). Let us not forget that continental Europe has languages other English. Developers were hungry for know-how and techniques and Javapolis filled in a hole for those capable of understanding English speakers from America, Canada and elsewhere.

My first “Devoxx” was Javapolis 2005 and I have been to everyone since. I was amazed of such conference using the facilities of the Kinepolis/Metropolis to such aplomb. To see technical presentations on a cinematic backdrop with the people who behind the framework, API, and/or platform was always a delight to behold and long may it continue.

The Devoxx conference has been traditionally cheaper than many technology conference. This is because the organiser offset the cost of the venue by gather finances from the sponsors. The quality of technical sessions is better than average in the upper quartile. The people you meet at Devoxx are great and knowledgeable about of sorts of API, techniques and movements.

Such is the popularity of the Devoxx, it has spawned a franchise in France. Devoxx France is set to take place from April 18th to 20th in Paris.

 

Highlights

 

Before the conference even began, I sorely desired a Devoxx mobile client for my Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet. Fortunately, I found that at least two were available for Android. In the end, I settled for Peter Kuterna’s application, and it really worked extremely well. When I last looked it had rave reviews on the Android Marketplace. (Devoxx has an REST CFP Schedule API open source and one can write a web application or native client.)

Many of the Oracle staff folks made it over the pond to Devoxx, such is the importance of this premier league type conference. A highlight was meeting Sharat Chander, the JavaOne committee chairperson. Also Roger Brinkley of the Java Spotlight podcast was over for the duration of the conference. Dalibor Topic made it to Antwerp for the later half of the week, as a he was also a speaker. I was able to offload on him some of my expectations, aspirations and opinions about JavaFX.

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Sharat Chander mistakenly took a picture of himself when I asked him to take photo of me using my iPhone 4S. I think turned out great!

 

Of course, a major highlight was working Stephen Chin on our joint A JavaFX Developer Guide presentation during the whole of Monday. We are at it for the morning and the evening. Stephen is a great speaker, comfortable on the floor and such easy person to interact with.  Even when we were aware of a slight audio/visual problem with the second demo computer [mine], at the start of our sensation, it felt good know we were on still on top of our game. Because we had put all the effort into it, and the results spoke for themselves.

Thank you Stephen for inviting me to help you out!

 

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[L] Stephen Chin and [R] myself in our JavaFX Developer Guide presentation at Devoxx 2011. Thanks to Kevin Nilson for this photograph!

 

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Stephen Chin – photo courtesy of Stephan Janssen

 

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Photo of me – photo courtesy of Stephan Janssen

 

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The JavaPosse Live event at Devoxx

The JavaPosse Live event episode 370 was exceptionally good this year. They managed to rope in Stephan Janssen, Chet Haase, James Ward, Mark Reinhold, and Brian Goetz into an unplanned, surprising and geeky fun show.

 

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The victims from L to R are Chet Haase, Mark Reinhold, Brian Goetz, James Ward and Stephen; and the guys in the hats are the JavaPosse

 

James Williams has one book called Learning HTML5 Game Programming published by Addison Wesley. Before Devoxx, I had never heard of James, or exactly anything about his work. Now, that I attended his presentation in person on HTML5, I am very intrigued. There was not a lot about game programming, however this session was still a definite highlight and brought into focus much of the web development world, especially what HTML5 is currently capable of with WebGL. The usual suspects, Microsoft and their Internet Explorer, were the one who are not supporting WebGL out-of-the-box as we all learnt. Why are we not surprised? 

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James Williams HTML5 Game Programming and WebGL

 

Gerrit Grunwald (hansolo_ on Twitter) just had a fifthteen minute presentation on HTML 5 and Java 2D, and oh my goodness, this fellow is “The Don”! What he has developed with Canvas and HTML5, the amazing and beautiful aesthetically cool performance dial controls, which he also developed originally for Swing and Java 2D, the sheer look-and-feel, makes my own UI attempts pale into insignificance. Gerrit Grunwald’s dials are fantastic and professional. I cannot wait for his Steel Series contributions into JavaFX 2.0 at all.

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Gerrit Grunwald on his "quickie" presentation

 

Joe Nuxoll had a great unmissable presentation on UI Design for Engineers. It was an expansion of the five minute lightning talk that I witnessed at the JavaPosse Round-Up 2011, which graciously ran into a full hour talk. Those people who attended were not at all disappointed. The room was packed to the rafters, seats were all taken and engineers were standing. I was standing too, because I got into that theatre session so late. Joe had plenty of wisdom give and many golden eggs of enchantment about user interface design. His talk had many hints on what to do and what not do with design. Design is iteration and refinement and much more than that. Overall, Joe Nuxoll was very impressive, one of the best talks at Devoxx, and gave me a set of ideas for a UI design session of my own.

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Joe Nuxoll at his UI Design for Engineers

 

Martin Odersky had a fairly interesting session about the future of Scala, namely version 2.10, and the expected features. First half his talk was the object relational ideas of Scala, and then we got into the more meatier sections. The great news for me was the improvement in the forthcoming Scala Reflection API. It was also interesting that Typesafe had formally accepted the Play framework as part of the overall product offering. I think this is also exciting news as promoted by James Ward of Heroku.

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Martin Odersky is getting set up for his one and only Devoxx Scala talk

 

Finally, I have to say that Brian LaRoux had a great introduction talk to the Nitobi / Adobe PhoneGap project. I will say that HTML5, hack solution into the native capabilities of mobile environment, and general push for open web is intriguing as an alternative Rich Internet Application solution. Especially, given the heavy crash of the door closing on Adobe Flash on mobile devices.

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Dave Chandler from Google talks about the newly announced DART programming language

 

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Brian LeRoux of Nitobi / Adobe talks about PhoneGap, its possible renaming ideas and eventual contribution to the Apache Software Foundation, and of course, its capabilities as open web mobile application solution – photo courtesy of Stephan Janssen

 

To tied it altogether, one of the best deserved presentations on HTML5, Scala and just sheer experimentation was supplied by FuseSource specialist Matt Raible. It simply fantastic and the fellow received a minutes applause afterwards for his sheer creativity, perseverance and ingenuity.

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Matt Raible delivers his fantastic talk – HTML5 with Play/Scala and JADE

 

 

Community

There were also plenty of opportunities to get involved in community activities. I volunteered for interview for Java.net development team at Devoxx. Tori Wieldt interviewed on JavaFX 2.0 for ten minutes, and the episode went out during breaks between the live cast of Devoxx 2011 sessions.

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Tori Wieldt (R) and Roger Brinkley (L); this time Tori was wearing Roger’s Brazilian hat

 

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Roger Brinkley – One third of the people behind Java Spotlight podcast. I think his Brazilian football team hat suits him better than it does me!

 

At Devoxx 2011, those of us who still had energy on Thursday night had a ball of a time at the Noxx nightclub. It was a chance to let off steam and also watch James McGivern (ex-Adaptivist) and Dan Hardiker mix MP3 tracks inside the DJ booth.

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The Devoxx 2011 team celebrates at the Noxx nightclub

 

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[L] James McGivern and [R] Dan Hardiker are the DJs upstairs for Noxx private party

 

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Dan Hardiker (L) observes the resident house and light DJs. Nowadays, one mixes vinyl records (MP3 tracks) with a MacBook Pro and the Traktor software application instead of two Technic SL1200 Mark II turntables!

 

There were also fabulous two dinners. The first Monday night, I hung out with Cameron Purdy, JavaPosse, Kevin Wright, etc. at the Cathedral in the old Antwerp town. The best Belgian beers were Trappist (9.8%), Rochefort (11%) and one other one, which I cannot remember correctly, might have been a variation of Kriek, a cherry flavoured beer (8.8%).

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Sorry about the red eye in this folks. From L to R are Cameron Purdy, Geertjan Wielenga, Dick Walls and Tor Norbye

 

I spent my second dinner night, Tuesday, with a group of German conference goers, including Gerrit Grunwald. We were also accompanied by a couple of MongoDB folks and Oliver White from Zero-Turnaround. We ended taking taxis to the Zuiderterase restaurant, which right on the river Scheldt. It was very cool talking about JavaFX, HTML5 and cloud computing solutions as I remember

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(R) Gerrit Grunwald and (L) Michael Huetterman, Cologne JUG Leader

 

An interesting highlight of this year’s Devoxx conference, was finally at last, JDuchess and Women in Information Technology were finally getting some overdue attention. There was a session called "Why Should We Target Women?", which thought provoking to say the least. Diversity is seen as a controversial subject for many and I was pleasantly surprised to notice how well attended this session was. There were an interesting mix of opinions, such as if you do make positive in roads to attracting women, does this also imply we should make the same provisions for black people, gender, etc. Other views were expressed, Trish Gee held the opinion, that she would not want to see positive discrimination for women. Antonio Goncalves and Martijn Verburg represented the view from men. Personally, I think gender inclusion has a long way to go, and this session helps keeping things forward. I think that it will be worth listening and watching this session on Parleys.com and form your own opinions.

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(Near L) Regina ten Bruggencate on the mic, (far L) Martijn Verburg, (near R) Trish Gee, and (far R) Antonio Goncalves

 

My final highlight was the European Java User Group Leaders meeting. This birds-of-a-feather event was notably for recognising the growing strength of JUG community, and the overall patience that the community has shown and placed on Oracle, especially this year 2011. Martin Verberg and Ben Evans gave a talk on the Adopt-a-JSR program. Hiberto Mendonca presented a short session on his JUG membership application. Finally there were initiative to get European JUG leader together for a Oracle meeting in Belgium or Holland. I also made a video recording of this session, I will get edited and uploaded soon.

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CEJUG leader Hildeberto Mendonca talks about the Java user group membership management project

 

Technologies To Watch

 

These are the technologies to watch out for 2012, in my humble opinion:

  • JavaFX 2.0 and domain specific languages GroovyFX and ScalaFX
  • Java SE 8 Modularity and Lambda
  • PhoneGap and the ASF
  • HTML5, CSS3 and Responsive Web Design
  • WebGL
  • Play Framework for Scala
  • MongoDB for document cloud storage without heavy transaction support

 

Odds and Ends

At this year’s conference, we had an interesting surprise for speakers and attendees. We were all given wristbands. These were sort of bands that you see at summer pop and rock music festivals. They were controversial for many, however for the organisers, Devoxx and Stephan Janssen, they made life much easier. Personally, I did not mind them after getting used to wearing it for a day or two. I was listening to Kirk Pepperdine discuss the bands with Stephan, and he opined that also still preferred to see a badge just to see who that other person was and how identify. I can see that side of his view too, being a speaker or Java Champion does distinguish you from the rest. What did you think of the wristbands?

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My now bruised and battered wristband for Devoxx 2011 towards the end of the conference ;-)

 

This conference was the most connected WIFI, I had ever experienced. I literally had a Dell laptop, an iPhone and a Galaxy Tab all hooked up. The first day was pathetic, because the Devoxx SSID was not secured with a password, it was open, so guess what Windows 7 / Vista or XP operating systems did? When these silly brain-damaged OS could not connect, they automatically created an ad-hoc network with the same name as the open SSID that you attempted to connect to. The fun started aplenty, because no else could easily connect by convenience, just like the blind leading the blind. When the WIFI was fixed, then it was amazing and what a pleasure it was to use.

 

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Here is a view of Martin Odersky over my the lip of my trusty laptop. Sitting close to the front, I am watching my Twitter feeds, whilst listening to upcoming Scala 2.10 changes.

 

Antwerp is a great city to see city, building and structural architecture from different eras. The Belgians have some great buildings and the first one that I noticed was the Central Station. If you venture in the old city centre, you will see the spectacular gothic cathedral too. I do recommend you get out in the Summer in order take advantage of the longer daylight or take an extra day or two before or after the conference to walk and sight see a bit. (I managed to walk around Antwerp during SpringOne 2007, by the way.)

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A camera shot straight up to the ceiling inside in Antwerp central station!

 

 

The Shout-Outs!

  • Stephan Janssen
  • Stephen Chin
  • Valérie Hillawaere
  • Joe Voordeckers
  • Johan Vos
  • Renato Guerra Cavalcanti
  • Dan Hardiker
  • Kristien Leyn
  • James McGivern
  • James Ward
  • Gerrit Grunwald
  • Kevin Nilson
  • Tori Wieldt
  • Roger Brinkley
  • Kirk Pepperdine
  • James Williams
  • Sharat Chander
  • Sven Reimers
  • Oliver White – Zeroturnaround and Zuiderterase restaurant
  • Geertjan Wielanga
  • Regina ten Bruggencate
  • Celina Van Aker
  • Antonio Goncalves
  • Badr Elhouardi – Morocco JUG leader!
  • Andres Almiray
  • Ben Evans
  • Martijn Verburg
  • Chet Haase
  • Cameron Purdy
  • Mark Reinhold
  • Brian Goetz
  • Nicole Scott
  • Brendan McAdams – MongoDB and Zuiderterase!
  • Kevin Wright
  • Stephen Colebourne
  • Matt Raible
  • Sonya Barry
  • Jan Harderka
  • Dick Wall
  • Joe Nuxoll
  • Tor Norbye
  • Carl Quinn
  • Maxime Nowak – Geneva JUG!
  • Yolande Poirer
  • Wilfred Springer
  • Hildeberto Mendonca

and any one else that I missed then sorry next time …

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The Radisson Blu Hotel in Antwerp, a fascinating building architecture, out of sorts to modernity and yet magical.

 

The End.

  • http://twitter.com/javabird Fabrizio Gianneschi

    Hi Peter, a tiny correction: Hildeberto’s application is aimed to manage user group members, not events. Anyway, you made a great report, as usual! See you next year!

  • http://xenonique.co.uk/blog/ Peter Pilgrim

    Thanks very much Fabrizio. That is correct and I changed the report. You’re welcome!

  • http://xenonique.co.uk/blog/ Peter Pilgrim

    Thanks very much Fabrizio. That is correct and I changed the report. You’re welcome!

  • markee174

    I thought your talk was one of the highlights – a great double act!

  • http://xenonique.co.uk/blog/ Peter Pilgrim

    Thank you very much – It is very much appreciated by the both of us and glad you enjoy it as much as we did.

  • Heiko Rupp

    Nice stuff. I really need to go there next year again.

  • Yannis

    Nice feedback !
    BTW, the “Brian LeRoux of Nitobi / Adobe talks about PhoneGap” picture is actually one of David Chandler (Dart).

  • Pingback: “We will always be there for you” – my relation from Devoxx 2011 | Tomasz Dziurko

  • http://twitter.com/ndeloof Nicolas De loof

    Hi Peter,
    the photo labeled “Brian LeRoux …” is actually a picture of David Chandler (Google) during his talk on Dart.

  • Ben

    Hi Peter,

    Good to see you at Devoxx. One quick thing – Martijn has the Dutch spelling for his name, so he’s Martijn Verburg.

    Cheers, hope to see you soon.

    Ben Evans

  • Yannis

    This must be a test to check who’s reading everything, including captions ! ;-)

  • Yara Senger

    Amazing post!

  • http://xenonique.co.uk/blog/ Peter Pilgrim

    Microsoft Live Blogger tool spellchecker s/Martijn/Martin/g

  • http://xenonique.co.uk/blog/ Peter Pilgrim

    I think that accidentally I scrubbed the iPhone 4s picture of Brian LeRoux by mistake. Thanks for the update.

  • http://xenonique.co.uk/blog/ Peter Pilgrim

    Thanks Yara!