Reporting from Texas - Our July JUG Meeting
The Austin JUG held its July meeting two days ago. The topic was "JavaOne 2003 Recap." We had a great turnout (close to 100 people crammed into our meeting location) and the level of interest was high. Five members who attended JavaOne gave a short talk on their experience at the conference and participated in the discussion panel that ensued. What I particularly enjoyed was how complementary each of the speakers' talks were to one another. It was coincidental but it worked out great.
First up was Doug Bateman who attended JavaOne as part of the ServerSide.com press team covering the conference. He discussed one of the main themes of the conference: the new features that are planned for J2SE 1.5 (generics, autoboxing, foreach loops, and more). This talk was nice and technical and to the point.
Next Lynn Sheen focused on what's new with J2EE and specifically EJB. Lynn attends every JavaOne and is a hardcore disciple of the platform. The talk was by no means restricted to the technical. Lynn relayed how the experience of the conference is just as strong a driver. And she didn't fail to end her talk with a re-enactment of the now traditional T-shirt toss (only with a single T-shirt though).
Third up was Albert Leigh, who works for Sun MicroSystems in Austin, Texas. Albert gave a great overall perspective of the conference and its main message of "Java Everywhere." Albert had also participated in setting up and running the hands-on labs at JavaOne and showed us pictures of the lab rooms and the activities that took place.
Rob Sartin spoke next. Rob spoke at JavaOne; he presented the technical session: TS-3055, "Extremely Accessible Servlets." What I particularly liked about Rob's talk was his ability to put his experience into perspective. He started by recalling a debate at another conference a long time ago (back in 1996) between C++ developers and persons who had already envisioned how Java would grow to become a mainstream programming language.
Michael Yuan spoke next. He delivered a BOF at JavaOne. Michael is quite active in the community. He frequently writes or co-authors articles for JavaWorld and various magazines such as Dr. Dobbs' Journal. He also has a book coming out on J2ME. Michael's talk blended much humour. He pretty much had the whole room laughing the entire time. One of Michael's most important messages was not to overlook the J2ME platform and the important role that handheld devices are going to play in the coming years. Furthermore, skills in programming J2SE readily transfers to programming in J2ME.
The final Discussion Panel included all the speakers, plus me. The format was quite simple: have the audience fire questions to the panelists to discuss and answer. What I really like about JUG meetings is how much the events include attendees. Alex Moffat who had also attended the conference didn't hesitate to relate his experiences in the guise of a question to the panel. That was great! I took the opportunity to talk about java.net and some of my participation with blogging on java.net.
Overall, the meeting was a great success and generated much interest. This interest was reflected in the increase in posts to our discussions list, which in the previous weeks had seen relatively little traffic.
One item I failed to mention is a tradition was have at our JUG to hold a preliminary, short talk ahead of the main event. Our board member Damon Clinkscales came up with the idea. We call this short talk 'the technotizer' (as in the analogy to appetizers before the main meal). Our technotizer for July was given by Jeff Gaer, a veteran programmer, about a Java-based rules engine API called Mandarax.
I'm glad that through this blog I am able to share some of the happenings in my corner of the woods, Austin, Texas.