Sunday, November 23, 2008

Final Day of Final No Fluff Just Stuff of 2008

At many conferences the last day is where the less gifted speakers or the less interesting topics get placed.  Not here!  Today was jam-packed with interesting presentations given by such notables as Brian Sletten, Andy Glover, Ken Sipe, David Geary and Stu Halloway.   This was actually the toughest day to choose which talks to go to.  I considered trying to run back and forth to try to catch more than one, but wisdom and laziness prevented that.  

So I started the day out with Andy Glover's "Groovin' builds Gant get any easier".  Andy did a great job of explaining what happens when you combine the utility of a feature-rich build system like Ant with the expressiveness and power of Groovy.  Anyone using Ant can benefit from Gant.  I can't see why anyone would stay with XML based Ant.   One thing that I always appreciate about Mr. Glover's talks is the way he draws even the most recalcitrant audience into his talks.  It's fun to see a master at work.

Speaking of masters, the next session I went to was Brian Sletten's "Restlet for the Weary".  I kept getting this feeling that a Restlet plugin for Grails might be a good thing.  I wonder if anyone has done that yet.  I don't think it's mere coincidence that you can rearrange the letters in Brian's name to spell "Brain".  

After another delicious lunch, we came to my favorite event, the expert panel.  The interaction between the speakers, audience and Jay Zimmerman, the host and moderator, is just hilarious, while being informative at the same time.  Ladies and gentlemen, don't try this at home.   

This might not have been a good idea, but I finished up the day in a two part session by Stu Halloway.  Stu has a series of 4 talks based on his recent blog posts titled  The two sessions that he had this weekend were great and Stu is one of the smartest people I've ever met, but it was a bit much for my brain after three days.   In fact, I am still mentally digesting much of what he talked about.  I will have to do a follow up to this post.  But in the meantime, I highly recommend that you check out his blog.  Be sure to do it on an empty brain, so to speak.

Well that's it for No Fluff Just Stuff  2008.  I've said it before and I'll say it again.  These are, by far, the best technical events available.  If you haven't been to one, get to one.  If there isn't one near you that's no excuse.  There is a group of guys from the Netherlands that come to one each year.  Since they have to fly in anyway, they go to a different city each year.  So there's no excuse.  Check the schedule.  If you're in the northern midwest, the Milwaukee NFJS will be Feb. 27 - March 1, 2009.  See you there!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

NFJS Chicago Day Two was packed!

Today the schedule was packed with good sessions.  It was very difficult to choose which session to go to.  Though I found out something- if you wait too long to decide the decision gets easier as some of the rooms fill up! 

After a great breakfast and discussion with Mark Richards and a preview of the material for the 10th anniversary meeting of NEJUG (if you live near Boston don't miss the January meeting), I went to Jared Richardson's Distributed Agile talk.  Jared' s high energy and upbeat outlook are great for getting you going in the morning.  Since I am currently working on a distributed team, this was a very timely session.  

Next I caught Alex Miller's tour of Terracotta.  That's an impressive piece of software!  I am going to have to look into it more.  It seems like something you should have to pay a huge amount of money for but it's free and open source.  Wow!  

After lunch where I unsuccessfully attempted to get a CapJug table together (sorry guys!),  I went to hear Neal Ford's talk all about Regular Expressions, which I told him look to me like cartoon swearing.   As part of the talk he had a quiz where he showed different regex samples and we were supposed to guess what they were.  One of them turned out to not be a regular expression at all but real cartoon swearing!  It was a very good discussion though and I think I'm starting to figure those things out.  Maybe between this talk and Ted Naleid's blog post, I'll finally be able to understand the next time a cartoon character cusses me out.

Next was Jeff Brown's Agile Test Driven Development with Groovy.  This is another that I had been to before but it's still got some good reminders in it and besides it was one of only two talks Jeff was giving and I had to go to one of them.  I was kind of bummed that Jeff didn't do any of his Grails talks this weekend.  In fact the whole show was a bit light on Grails goodness.  I'll have to note that on the conference eval :)  

Finally there was the JVM languages BOF with Scott Davis, Stu Halloway and Jeff Brown.  There was some very good discussion on various languages such as JRuby, Clojure, Scala and, of course, Groovy.  Groovy appeared to be the favorite of the audience here, but Clojure does sound pretty interesting.  Or should I say, Stu Halloway makes Clojure sound pretty interesting. Stu is working on a book on the topic which is in beta now.  I'll have to check it out.

All in all, a great day.  My head is swimming with ideas and starting to get a bit stuffed, but there's still one more day of the last No Fluff of the year. 

Friday, November 21, 2008

NFJS Chicago Day One Wrapup

While Scott Davis went on to blow everyone's mind with Groovy: The Red Pill, I snuck over to catch Neal Ford's Productive Programmer talk.  I have the book but it's tough to ask a book questions.  It was great and I picked up some very helpful tips that I can put to use on my recently acquired MacBook Pro.  (which is just awesome! by the way).  Next, while my son Ben was keeping an eye on Scott during Rapid Web Development with Grails and Ajax, I took in Nathaniel Schutta's talk on Improving Code Quality.  Nate gave a good recap of some of the best stuff out of Pragmatic Programmer with excellent anecdotes to drive the points home.  

Dinner was great as usual at a NoFluff.  No boxed lunches here!  I ran into some more Madisonians including a former co-worker from the State of Wisconsin.  It was great to hear that Grails is still making life better for them there.  But then Grails makes life better wherever it is tried.  :-)  

Unfortunately I missed Neal Ford's keynote due to an abundance of good conversations with some of the smartest people I know.   Time now to rest up.  Tomorrow's a big day.  Joining the speaker lineup is the one and only Stu Halloway as well as David Geary, David Hussman, and rounding out the St. Louis contingent, Jeff Brown and Ken Sipe (Alex Miller is also from St. Louis... must be something in the water over there).

Stay tuned for more from this, the last No Fluff Just Stuff of the year.

Chicago NFJS Day One

The Great Lakes Software Symposium just started.  I am sitting in Scott Davis' Groovy the Blue Pill talk.  I've heard it before but it's still good.  Scott's one of those guys who's just plain fun to listen to.   Also speaking today are Neal Ford, Mark Richards, Nathaniel Schutta, Jared Richardson and Alex Miller.  If only I could split myself into six parts.  I will try to mix it up a bit this time and see some of the sessions I haven't been to before.  We'll see.

Tonight's keynote should be good.  Neal Ford will be presenting his "Ancient Philosophers and Blowhard Jamborees"  

It's great to see several CapJug regulars here as well as many others from Madison.   We here in the northern Mid-West have the privilege of having the first NFJS (Milwaukee) and the last (Chicago) each year.  Although there are rumors that next year the tour will end in Colorado.  I may have to write my congressman about that one!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Congratulations to SpringSource!

It looks like SpringSource has their answer to JBoss Seam, and what an answer it is!  There are all kinds of aspects and angles to SpringSource's recently announced acquisition of G2One, the company behind Groovy and Grails, but this one struck me right off the bat.  

While Groovy will give new energy to the entire Spring portfolio, Grails, specifically, will help round out their competitive position vis a vis RedHat.  In recent demos at our Java User Group and at JavaOne, it appears that RedHat is using Seam to draw people into their whole platform.  And until now, SpringSource hasn't had a direct answer to that.   Not only will they have a framework that competes with Seam, but they will have one that blows it out of the water!  Don't get me wrong, Seam is heading in the right direction and with the eventual advent of JSF 2.0 it will get even better, but it is no where near as productive, effective or awesome as Grails.

Over the next several days, we will probably be hearing a lot about what this acquisition means to the future of Groovy and Grails.  I think, overall, it will be a major positive in that regard.  But, I think the real winner is SpringSource.   Congratulations to Rod Johnson and the gang for once again jumping ahead of the curve!


With the big news today in the 2G community, this important tidbit might be left behind, but if you're watching the Grails Jira, and who isn't doing that?,  then you will have seen that Marcel Overdijk's Uber-Generate-All script will be included in Grails 1.04 due out later this week! (See GRAILS-2946)

Now, on a new Grails project, after creating a bunch of domain classes, maybe fiddling around with constraints and such with the scaffolding turned on, and generally getting things the way you want them, you can just give this command: grails generate-all "*" and all your controllers and views will be generated in one fell swoop!  How cool is that?  

This can be a timesaver in any project but it is really slick when giving demos of Grails, which is something we should all be doing more of  :)

So, in case this news doesn't make as big a splash in the 2G Community as the SpringSource acquisition, I just want to say "Thanks!" and "Good Job!" to Marcel for coming up with this idea and to Peter Ledbrook for getting it into Grails.  These guys are both Groovy Award winners and here's one more reason why!