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JA-SIG Conference

Posted by gsporar on December 7, 2005 at 3:47 PM PST

The Java Architectures Special Interest Group (JA-SIG)
seeks to provide education and research in the applied use of open technology
architectures and systems in higher education. They had a conference
here in Austin so I decided to check it out.

An excellent keynote address from
Matt Thompson
kicked things off. He described
some of the things that are changing at Sun and how those affect the Java community
in general and JA-SIG users in particular. The recent announcement about all of
Sun's software being free got quite a bit of attention. He quoted from Jonathan
Schwartz's blog;
my own favorite entry on the topic is
this one.

Matt then described several different projects, including
NetBeans,
Project Peabody,
and Glassfish.
Project Peabody is an initiative to provide a more collaborative
development environment for future generations of the
Java 2 Platform, Standard Edition (J2SE)
.
The GlassFish community is building a free, open source application server which
implements the newest features in the
Java EE 5 platform
(the next version of
the J2EE platform), so it is the open
sourcing of Sun's reference implementation
EE 5 application server. (As an aside: If you happen to be in Austin next Tuesday night
(December 13th) you can hear
Sridhar Reddy
discuss both Project Peabody and Glassfish
in more detail at the December Austin Java User's Group
meeting; check out the
meeting page
for more information (and note that Dave Havrda is also on the agenda,
discussing the cool new plug-in creation features in
version 5 of the
NetBeans IDE). If instead
of Austin, you're in Antwerp next week for Javapolis, be sure to check
out NetBeans in Action
where you can see Ludo Champenois's demonstration of using NetBeans with Glassfish to
create applications that use the new features in EE 5.)

Back to the keynote: there were about 150 folks on hand and they seemed
to get something out of it - I noticed several writing down notes, in particular
when URLs were displayed.

During the keynote Matt had put in a couple of plugs for my thirty minute demo of the NetBeans IDE, which
happened right after the keynote ended. I think I had around fifteen or so folks
gathered around a small table - I did not have time to take an exact count. Thirty
minutes is not much time to show off features in the NetBeans IDE, so everything
went by in a blur. I started with a very quick general tour and then showed the
most recent editor enhancements. After that
Charlie Hunt
(who was in Chicago) helped me show off the
collaboration features. That left me
with only ten more minutes. I had to choose:
Project Matisse
or the NetBeans Profiler. Since JA-SIG's
big open source project is uPortal (which is a web application), I decided to go
with the Profiler. For those of you interested in Project Matisse, be sure to check
out this new interview
with Tomas Pavek and Scott Violet. I got so wound up in showing the low-overhead profiling features
that time ran out on me before I could pass out any schwag!
I did manage to give tee-shirts and USB drives to a couple of guys from the
University of Illinois.

After that I attended a couple of sessions. The first was by Jim Helwig of
the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The title was "Jumping In: Migrating
an Enterprise System from Commercial Software to Open Source." To provide
an analogy, he used the story of the Ingalls family, made popular in
Laura Ingalls Wilder's

Little House on the Prairie
books. It might sound a bit hoky, but it actually
worked pretty well. He described how moving from a commerical portal product
to uPortal involved lots of risks, unknowns, and sometimes hardships - just like
being a pioneer in the 19th century.

The second session was "A Holistic View of Identity Management" by
Stuart Sim of
Sun
. Stuart has worked with companies from a variety of industries (financial,
telecommunications, etc.) and feels very strongly that the most complicated
set of identity definitions are in educational environments. He described additional
challenges and briefly covered Sun's
Identity Management products
.

After that it was time for a quick lunch with Stuart and two of his colleagues
from Sun's Education Division: Art Pasquinelli and Vinnie Gupta. The four of us
then held an informal question and answer session open to all topics. There
were more queries about how all of Sun's software is available for free. Stuart
fielded a couple of questions about specific Identity Management architectural
choices, and I answered some general Java and development tools questions. And since
I had a captive audience, I got to hand out the rest of my schwag. :-)