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JavaChina

Posted by gsporar on September 14, 2005 at 9:02 AM PDT

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Day 1

We started early. Bob Brewin was scheduled to do a keynote at 11:00 AM. Charles Beckham and I were on the hook to do demos during Bob's keynote. To beat the rush hour traffic (which can be brutal here in Beijing) we decided to meet for breakfast at 6:00 AM and then head on over to the Olympic Sports Center. Once we were there we had some time to kill, which led to the photo above.

The show got started with opening announcements, pronouncements, and a parade of the official conference flags. Then Scott McNealy took the stage. His presentation gave a big picture view of Sun's Java strategy and the importance of openness and participation. His presentation included a mention of NetBeans:

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Then Nick Evered of Oracle did a presentation on Service Oriented Architecture. That was followed by a nice man from Motorola; he was speaking in Mandarin and the battery in the gizmo they gave me that provides translations had apparently died. So I did not understand what he said, but from looking at his slides it appears the cell phone market in Asia is growing like crazy.

After that, it was Bob's turn; here he is with his name in lights:

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The theme of Bob's talk was about using development tools to manage complexity. Charles did a nice demo of the orchestration feature that will be in a future version of Java Studio Enterprise:

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After that it was my turn to go up on stage and do a Project Matisse demo. It went well:

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I built a very simple name/address form:

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The font is nice and large so that it could be seen by folks in the back. I had also built a version of the demo beforehand that made use of a .properties file. That allowed me to change the locale and then re-run it in simplified Chinese:

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Notice how the layout manager used by Project Matisse adjusted everything just the way it should be, even though the strings are completely different sizes than their English versions. Also, the correct things happen when the dialog is re-sized:

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As I mentioned when I was on stage, the demo would not have been possible without the translated strings, which were kindly provided by Jasper Liu. Feichang xeixei, Jasper.

After the keynote it was time to have lunch and then prepare for a Hands On Lab: Building Swing Applications with NetBeans 4.1. This lab was originally developed by Chuk Munn Lee and Bernard Ng, who taught it at JavaOne. For JavaChina, Tim Boudreau and I taught it. We started out with a small number of students but by the end of the allotted time we had a full house. All in all it went pretty well, in large part because of the assistance of our translators/proctors: Conny Cheng, Donald Duan, Paul Mei, and Qin Zhao. Feichang xeixei, to all of them.

Day 2

I only saw two of the morning keynotes: John Loiacono and James Gosling. John Loiacono did his "chalk talk," which describes Sun's overall strategy. I know this will make me sound like a suck-up, but I think it's a great presentation. He covers the entire system stack, starting from the CPUs; he shows how Sun's products offer customers a variety of choices.

James Gosling mostly talked about the near-term future of Java and the interesting things being done on "the edge" of networks. He also discussed the importance of the Java community and encouraged the crowd to get involved. At the end of his presentation there was a celebration of Java's recent 10th birthday. A group of very young children brought out ten birthday cakes and the sound system reverberated with "Happy Birthday," sung in both English and Mandarin. At the end fireworks were shot off and confetti fell from the ceiling.

In the afternoon I managed to see a couple of technical sessions. Mandy Chung did a nice overview of Java Management Extensions (JMX). Then Chris Campbell and George Zhang did a presentation on SwingX and JDesktop Integration Components (JDIC). Chris started things off with lots of cool SwingX demos. Then George discussed JDIC; he made his comments in Mandarin, so I had a bit of trouble following along. But his demos looked almost as cool as Chris's had.

Final Thoughts

I don't know the official numbers, but the event coordinators were indicating that over 4,000 were in attendance in Beijing. There were also eight satellite cities, with a total attendance of around 5,000. So over 9,000 in total. That's a lot of folks. I was struck by how young they seemed. At developer conferences in the U.S. I'm used to seeing a lot of young people, but also a fair number of older folks (such as myself).

The other trend was the enthusiasm and desire to learn that was exhibited by the attendees. In the Hands On Lab that Tim and I taught one of the students said he wanted to build a web application. I told him that NetBeans has wonderful tools for doing just that, but that Tim and I were focusing on the material at hand, which covered building a Swing application. He seemed satisfied with that answer and I went on to another student's question. An hour or so later I noticed he had a JSP page up and running in a browser. :-)