Saturday, October 23, 2010

JavaOne Has Been Replaced

I just got back from SpringOne/2GX. It was an excellent experience. The enthusiasm and interest level of the attendees was great. The content, both on the Spring side and (of course) the Groovy and Grails side, was top-notch. There were nine tracks loaded with sessions that covered all kinds of topics related to software development in the Java ecosystem. There were long breaks with plenty of stimulating hallway conversations. Even the keynotes were informative. At most conferences, I skip the keynotes. I've become so used to them being just sales pitches from people who don't even use the tools they're talking about. That wasn't the case here. One of the highlights of the show was Graeme Rocher's keynote demo of the new NoSQL DB support in GORM.

As excellent as it was, I'm not saying that SpringOne/2GX has replaced JavaOne.

The week before SpringOne/2GX, I took two of my sons to the StrangeLoop conference in St. Louis. This conference covered several important areas of software development. There was good coverage of Java and alternate JVM languages and frameworks, along with a bunch of other languages and technologies. It wasn't held in a big conference center or a nice hotel, but in three different buildings, each with a unique atmosphere. This “small” midwest conference featured industry luminaries that you might have expected to see only in the Moscone Center. To see them on the stage of a St. Louis night club was something else!

Just this afternoon, after opening registration less than 4 days ago, the CodeMash conference in Sandusky, OH, sold out. This conference, like StrangeLoop, covers a broad range of technologies. Though there is a bit more .NET than I would like to see, :-) it is another excellent event, bringing speakers from across the country and attendees from across the globe.

I could go on. There is the Silicon Valley Code Camp, the Houston TechFest, and so many more. But you get the picture.

For several years now, JavaOne has been turning into more of a vehicle for pushing a certain technology (coughJavaFXcough). The attendance has been gradually dropping. As developers stopped going to JavaOne, they began to find other events to meet the need that JavaOne was not filling. Or they started their own.

The Oracle acquisition and the subsequent decision to make JavaOne an afterthought to Oracle's annual event didn't help, but JavaOne was already on its way out. It was destroyed the way so many companies are: by pushing what it wanted its customers to have rather than providing what its customers wanted.

So I can't point to a single conference that will be the new JavaOne (although Über Conf comes close). But I can look out at all the technical gatherings happening around the world—Devoxx, JAOO, the JAX events, the GR8 events, and so many more. And then I can look closer to home and see all the “small” conferences that are providing big benefits to attendees and speakers, and I can say it without a doubt. JavaOne has been replaced.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Move On In Peace

As long as we measure the success of a movement by adoption numbers, any successful movement will eventually become compromised and diluted. This is a cycle that has repeated itself time and again. It happens in all areas of human interaction: politics, religion, science, entertainment, business, and technology, to name a few.

When this cycle occurs, the founders and early adopters often begin to feel bitter about where things have gone. They long for the “early days.” They begin to lash out at the masses that have morphed their creation into something less than what they had in mind. They may even make a concerted effort to reform the movement, and to bring it back to its roots. This is understandable, but it is not practical. I cannot think of a single instance where it has worked.

I've been thinking of a more sane and peaceful path: Founders and early members of a movement could, at the first sign of success, begin to plan their next move. Learn from what has been done before. Keep the essence of it, and start over. If the original idea was good, reuse and rebrand it. If those unwashed masses did bring a little value after all, borrow it and build on it. Or scrap the whole mess and reinvent the wheel. (Round does get boring after a while. :) )

Just be willing to let go of what was, and let those who have come run with it. Don't whine about it. Don't attack the newcomers. Just move on. If you miss the “good old days,” you can always start some new ones.