The Week After JavaOne

by James Duncan Davidson

The twenty thousand odd people that were at JavaOne know exactly how I feel this week after the conference. In a word: Tired. There were five full days of 8AM wake-up calls for keynotes and 11PM BOF sessions and parties. At the end of it all however, it seems that the important take-away items from this JavaOne were not in the press releases or keynote slides. They were found between the lines, between the sessions, and in the after hours discussions.

For starters, just look at the attendance numbers. In an age of companies chopping their travel budgets, something like twenty thousand people managed to descend on the Moscone center. Sure, that's down from twenty five thousand last year, but other conferences have been hit harder. I have been to some recently where you could hear the promoters crying over their balance sheets. Take-away: JavaOne remains the premier programmer conference and networking venue. Companies cut other conferences, but still ensured that their employees made it to JavaOne.

Next, while it became repetitive at times to watch one corporate executive after another pull out a device on stage and say, "This is a cell phone. It runs Java," the sheer magnitude of small devices running Java made it clear that this was the year of J2ME. But, the buzz amongst all of my friends was the Compaq iPaq running Linux and a full J2SE environment. Take-away: J2ME is hot right now, but the devices are picking up the horsepower to run standard Java. And hackers don't want to mess with all sorts of profiles, they want to Write Once Run Anywhere (WORA).

Possibly the best of the keynotes was on Thursday where Oracle's Larry Ellison followed BEA's William Coleman. Larry took turns praising the benefits of competing on standards and taking shots at both BEA and IBM. Take-away: J2EE is a rousing success, everyone knows it, and there is a healthy set of J2EE application servers to choose from.

Java on the desktop didn't get much play at this year's JavaOne. At least not officially. However, the underlaying buzz was there. Apple was present in force as a Gold co-sponser and was showing Mac OS X running the latest and greatest Java runtimes as well as Hardware Accellerated Swing and Java Web Start. The buzz from random attendees that I talked to was very positive. One person said that he hoped that Java developers would jump all over Mac OS X as a developer platform to reward Apple for all of the hard work they have put into J2SE. Take-away: Apple has done very well at overcoming the stigma of poor Java support that it used to have. We may yet see a renaissance on the desktop for J2SE and if we do, Apple will be there.

So, even though there were no spectacular announcements at JavaOne, if you dig deep the message is pretty clear. Java is mature and ready to go in the Enterprise, is picking up steam in cell phones everywhere, and is poised to make a come back on the desktop that was its original target. And even if we don't see J2SE rule on the desktop, it is certain that the little devices are picking up enough power to run it instead of J2ME. There are no earth shattering revolutions taking place and even if it doesn't make for good news, it makes for a good platform for developers to program to.

What was your take-away from JavaOne?