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A Fine, Informative Online Java 7 / JavaFX 2.0 Mini-Conference: OTN Virtual Developer Day - Java

Posted by editor on February 14, 2012 at 2:31 PM PST

Today I attended the Oracle Technology Network's Java Virtual Developer Day, a four-hour online event that takes a pretty deep dive into Java 7 and JavaFX 2.0. The agenda started with a keynote presentation, "The Java Platform: Now and the Future," followed by a general session, "What is Java SE 7 and JDK 7." These were presented by Simon Ritter, Technology Evangelist, Oracle.

Following the keynote and general session, attendees could choose a Technical Sessions track ("Diving into JavaFX 2.0" and "Java SE 7: New and improved APIs") or a Hands-On Lab Track ("Java SE 7 Hands-On Lab" and "JavaFX 2.0 Hands-On Lab"). I chose the Technical Sessions track, in part because I wanted attend via a large screen, which I have available only on my CentOS Linux machine. Attending on Linux meant that I couldn't participate in the JavaFX 2.0 lab (which required Windows). While the Virtual Developer Day Java Pre-Event Checklist does not claim support for Linux, I had no problems attending the mini-conference using CentOS 5.5 and Firefox 3.6.24.

I saw as many as 750 people connected simultaneously, as I occasionally looked at the "Users" meter at the bottom of the virtual room. One time my login timed out between sessions, but I was quickly able to log back in and attend the next session. Aside from that, the system's performance was fine for me.

OTN Virtual Developer Day - Java "room": Presentation and Q&A components

The virtual "room" in which the developer day takes place includes a screen where presentation slides are displayed, with a live text messaging box where attendees can ask questions as the presentation proceeds. There's also an option to view the slides in full-screen mode (in which case the text messaging panel is not shown). The general "feel" is pretty close to what it's like to attend a live conference session. No, you can't ask the actual speaker questions, but the live Q&A team answered plenty of interesting questions as the sessions proceeded.

What impressed me most is how much important information was packed into the technical sessions. There were plenty of code snippets and examples of new Java SE 7 features, and JavaFX 2.0 demos with backing code. Simon Ritter presented the Technical Sessions track, so my entire participation was four hours of viewing his slides and listening to his commentary on the slides. Really, the slides by themselves are a very small representation of the actual content Simon presented. For each slide, the verbal discussion was expansive.

Another thing that impressed me was the historical background that Simon brings into his discussions of new features in Java 7, and to JavaFX 2.0. He doesn't just state what's new, he goes back to how things were in the past, describes the problems that existed, then shows how the new language features solve the problem. The listener is left with a sense of the justification behind the latest Java 7 enhancements, the justifications for what's coming up in Java 8, the reasoning behind the abandonment of the JavaFX 1.3 scripting model and the redesign that led to JavaFX 2.0, etc.

Not only that, Simon frequently goes down into the JVM itself, describing its inner workings and how this relates to the Java language. For example, his discussion of the JVM-related problems entailed by InvokeDynamic (JSR 292) covers the history of invoke methods in the JVM, the problem presented by languages with dynamic typing, and the solution that was implemented in Java 7 (see above and below).

The presentations that make up the Java Virtual Developer Day really are superb! If you know Java well, but you don't know that much about the JVM, you'll receive a nice introductory education in how the JVM works from Simon's Java 7 discussions. Or, if in your job you haven't had the opportunity to catch up with the latest developments in Java, the Java Virtual Developer Day is a great opportunity to do some of that catching up.

And if Java is relatively new to you, in addition to learning about the new features of Java 7 and JavaFX 2.0, you'll see in this mini-conference how Java today is advancing based on a vision that is solving problems that existed in previous versions of the platform, and addressing today's emerging needs (for example, the Java 7 Fork/Join Framework, which is highly relevant for developing applications for modern multicore devices, even down to multicore hand-held devices).

I found the OTN's Java Virtual Developer Day to be very well done. I'm glad I chose to attend. The presentations are now available on demand.

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