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Devoxx 2012 Report: The State of the Expansion

19 November 2012 1 comment

10 minutes


Devoxx 2012: Bam!

Stephen Chin rode into the Wednesday morning Keynote with his motorbike. It was an exciting start to the conference days!

They say that change is inevitable and you cannot never ever truly predict exactly what will happen in the future. This is common knowledge. Perhaps, the only way we can be sure of the trends, initiatives and the arrow of time, is to take a sampling of the product and the mood at frequent points in time. Measure more often and frequently.

This is one for me the whole point of going to conferences. Beyond a laugh and joke with people you know; there is a serious business of finding out exactly what is interesting people, what is the latest technology and asking what else do I have to learn?

Devoxx UK

The biggest news from my point of view is that they gone and announced Devoxx UK. Yes, that is correct. After the successful launch of Devoxx France, a couple of members of the London Java Community wanted to push ahead with the London version. The main  positive for the London IT developer is that  they do not take the Eurostar or fly; and they can get to see a version of the Antwerp conference with, I presume, the high standard of technical content; and it will be on their own doorstep.

The fly on the ointment for me in the marketing so far, which I can see, is the slight political situation in Great Britain. We have at the moment, a disunited kingdom currently where Wales and Scotland are pressing for devolution of the central government and local council controls; and so in the branding of Devoxx UK the organizers should be careful.  In other words, the conference should take care of the sensibilities and sensitivities of all the British citizens. Personally, being a person of Black Afro-Carribean origin, and also being a rare example of a person who is an experienced software developer in the London information technology industry,  I will advise maximum inclusive and openness in the out-going messages.

Generally, I see great advantages in Devoxx UK for people near and around London, because I have just checked my full travel costs to California; and whilst I do not regret going to and speaking at the JavaOne conference, let us just say the San Francisco hotel costs were expensive. It is for good name of JavaOne, being the Mecca for the world-wide Java development, that I could do it.

With Devoxx UK on our doorstep, for fellow Brits, the cost is significantly reduced especially for the young and old, the unwaged, and any other soul struggling to keep a straight face with their monthly bank balance. Even for folk, who want to travel down from Scotland or make their trip from up North [Northern England; City of Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, Newcastle, etc] or across the Irish Sea, the cost for people living in the UK should be cheaper and easier to travel to. I also believe Devoxx UK should be cost effective for contractors to take a couple of days of work for self-funded training. So I will keep my fingers crossed for the success Devoxx UK.

Adam Bien, last session of the conference, Java EE Patterns Revisited: a great talk!

Apple iOS

The conference was also a watershed for myself to embrace Apple iOS programming, thanks to Michael Segher’s excellent university talk and hands-on-lab on the Monday. This is the bonus that taking time out at conference can do especially if you disconnect yourself completely from the constant stream of interruptions from the workplace.  Suddenly, you can be hacking in an unfamiliar domain and furthering your education.

Somebody once wrote in a book about learning to play electric guitar, which I read years ago, that you are now guitarist since you picked up the book and/or the DVD; and essentially start practising the licks on a real instrument. It is a change of mental attitude. If you want to go off on a tangent by yourself into another field; it does not matter even if it is outside technology, find a conference or a setting where an instructor is willing to lay down a bridge stone and gently show the way to get into the new subject. I cannot claim instant gratification of being a virtuoso iOS software developer, but know just like the young girl Lex Murphy, the granddaughter of the scientist, flawed investor and billionaire owner John Hammond in the movie adaption of Michael Crichton’s fantasy novel Jurassic Park; and I can now heartily exclaim, “I know iOS, I know that system”.
Bill Venners gives some very practical, simple and design advices during his talk about “Simplicity in Scala!”

Hacking Gardens

Andres Almiray organised a Hackergarten for folk who wanted to get involved in projects. I liked the concept of it in theory, however, in practice, when I came down at lunchtime or between the sessions, I did not understand who was hacking on which systems. I could see the JBoss folk huddled together in one area of the exhibition hall and on the other side, where Stephen Chin was conducting Nighthacking interviews, I think there was a Groovy programming activity. The idea was good; it could be better signposted to the observers as they walked around.
The JDuchess team from L to R: Linda van der Pal, Yolande Poirier and Regina ten Bruggencate

Java EE 7

Whilst I was in Antwerp, I had a task to find out more about the upcoming changes in Java EE land. I especially wanted to learn about the Context and Dependency Injection appearing in Java SE. I was disappointed to learn that this will not make into the Java EE 7. David Blevins intimated that he thought it would be a discussion point for CDI 2.0.

In fact, David Blevins had a rather interesting talk on Extensibility in Java EE 7. I really liked his more powerful and reusable custom Stereotype annotations proposal. Currently in CDI 1.0 for Java EE 6 you are allow to define custom annotations and aggregate them together, unfortunately they cannot be reused with the semantic information applied. David Blevins idea of Metatypes would be a welcome addition.

He also had another idea for standardising custom connectors with resource adaptors for message drive beans: namely written custom connectors that synchronised command over an input and queue channel to a service, such as Telnet provider or email service. For my point of view, I was not sure about this particular use case and you can read for yourself  I think this is small-scale enterprise application integration, which is better served in my opinion, by a dedicated framework like Spring Integration, Apache Camel and others.

JavaFX and Embedded Devices

Seeing JavaFX running on embedded devices was a great highlight of Devoxx. I think this reaffirms the direction and intention of where Java as a client-side technology could be going.  There is a whole industry of mobile computing devices waiting to explode out. I believe that impact of the Raspberry Pi and Beagle board will only be truly known a couple of years from now, down the road.
Simon Ritter wore an EEG headset to detect brain-waves using a Raspberry Pi and JavaFX / Java port to ARM Linux
Gerrit Grunwald, the current wizard of gauge interfaces in JavaFX, demonstrated his Beagle board set-up at the JavaFX University day. We learnt that we should optimising the number of nodes in a scene-graph; if we want reasonable performance on an embedded device, simply because the number of cores in a Graphical Processor Unit (GPU) on a ARM processor boards are at least two orders of magnitude different from a MacBook Pro Retina Display GPU.

Simon Ritter had an interesting presentation that demonstrated JavaFX running on an Raspberry Pi, on a beta release Java SDK, which Oracle announced a couple of weeks ago at JavaOne. The Oracle advocate had a cheap robot mechanical robot, bought from Maplins; a Lego mindstorm with a motor, which any child can plead for their parent to buy; and an Electro-Cardiogram EEG headset connected via USB, working in his presentation. I recommend you catch this talk on Parleys on some stage, because it was fun. I would also like to commend Angela Caicedo for showing off the Java embedded stuff at the JavaFX Bootstrap university.
Gerrit Grunwald’s Beagle board and JavaFX application, which read the current room temperature

Just to finalise the intention of returning Java back to embedded devices; the original design concept of Java, the so-called Oak, and Project Green, was to develop a set-up top for Television; Jasper Potts shipped the JavaOne consoles, which were Panda Boards, all the way from the USA to Belgium. He updated the conference data, and four of the consoles were in operations in the Metropolis.

I think JavaFX is now the replacement for Swing, and it is getting there, surely after five years now. It needs the other technologies from current embedded devices and desktop machines, namely: Web Camera support, USB input support, Magnetometer, Accelerator, and of course most obviously Geo-location senor input. Perhaps, through the open sourcing of JavaFX by early 2013, we can as community quickly developed these APIs.  In fact, when I had a conversation with Jo Voorendeckers in the hallway, he felt that JavaScript via Phone Gap and HTML5 were still just a couple of strides ahead of JavaFX. In this regard, Jo Voorendeckers and Benjamin Dobler demonstrated how powerful JavaScript and HTML5 are right now with upcoming HTML5-based version of Parleys.

Yakov Fain talks about JavaScript for Java developers, which actually very amusing and full of that New Jersey Italian Mafia goodness. I really mean this was a very good talk; just to be sure that any gangsters do not come for me in the middle of the night!


Yakov Fain had this final session of the day on Thurday, which was called JavaScript for Java Developers. What a comedic brain this guy has? The best variable name I was seen for a long time was this:

function Tax(income,dependents) {
var mafiaTaxDeduction = 300
// calculate the tax

Actually, Yakov seriously gave the audience a very good introduction into the JavaScript programming language. We should respect it as a very general and malleable programming language, and there are very important good parts as well as the script-kiddie bad parts. For instance, JavaScript has closures (lambdas with hoisting) and it can do mix-ins through something called a prototypical inheritance. If you are betting woman [or man], then learn JavaScript [again] for the education major task of 2013 just to cover your bases.


Well this is not quite the end. Devoxx 2012 was very successful, especially for technologies, which lies on the periphery.  I will certainly remember my first experiences with iOS here. The resurgence of JavaScript was rather well once again made out to be true as the emerging web platform. JavaFX needs to catch up with the sensory device input; and as for JavaEE 7 we have make sure that we, the Java EE community, deliver on our promises. [I will probably add an extra bit of piece to this entry later, as addendum sections. Stay
This was about the JUG Leaders meeting, and Antonia Gonclaves, the Paris JUG, and Devoxx France organiser, was taking his turn to speak to everyone


Here are the traditional shout-out; there is no order implied whatsoever:-

  • Jo Voorendeckers
  • Stephan Janssen
  • Stephen Chin
  • Keith Combs
  • Michael Seghers
  • Yolanda Poirer
  • Constantin Partac
  • Galder Zamarreno
  • Thomas Bolz
  • Dr Mark Little
  • Carlo de Wolf
  • David Blevins
  • Gerrit Grunwald
  • Lucy Weaver
  • Jim Weaver
  • Alessandro Alfonso
  • Angela Caicedo
  • Fabrizo Gianneschi
  • Jose Pereda Llamas
  • Tasha Carl
  • Johan Vos
  • Linda van der Pal
  • Yakov Fain
  • Nicole Scott
  • Jamie McGivern
  • Martijn Verburg
  • Regina ten Bruggencate
  • Heather VanCura
  • Dan Allen
  • Patrick Curran
  • Simon Ritter
  • Terrence Barr
  • Sharat Chandler
  • Renato Guerra Cavalcanti
  • Kirk Pepperdine
  • Antonio Goncalves
  • Joe Darcy
  • Andres Almiray
  • Trish Gee
  • Ben Evans
  • Luc Duponcheel
  • Dick Wall
  • Carl Quinn
  • Tor Norbye
  • Sonya Barry
  • Oliver White
  • Jonathan Giles

To anyone I missed, I did not mean to do it. See you all next year 2013!

The JavaPosse Live! This was recording number 400, where Chet Haase officially replaced Joe Nuxoll. Episode 400! Congratulations!

It is my hand. The organisers deployed Near-Field Communications as wristbands on everybody for both parts University and Conference days. Obviously, after five days of shaking hands, showers and general distress these wristbands look worse for wear. I had to get help cutting them too after the last session!

Gerrit Grunwald (L) and Jim Weaver (R) at the JavaFX Bootstrap university session this year.

I caught a brief glimpse of Kirk Pepperdine and Aleksey Shipilev talk on Java SE Performance, especially on the part about generational counts and memory leaks. It was useful revision for me!

Antwerp is supposed to be Belgium’s fashionable city. It is probably true; it certainly has great architecture worth seeing

Here is a picture of me sitting close to the stage just before the JavaPosse Live episode 400 with Joe Voorendeckers to my left. I was sitting with the blue hooded folk, the Devoxx volunteers and support staff. Ah! Bless them for all their hard work.


+PP+ 2012

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