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Kumbaya - Java talk around the campfire

Posted by jhurley on May 16, 2006 at 2:21 PM PDT

I attended the JavaOne Alumni "Fireside Chat" last night. Even though I've been an alumni for many years, this was the first time I've been able to make this and found it very interesting. Here are some rough notes I took to give you a little flavor for the discussion.


JavaOne Alumni Fireside Chat, Monday May 15th, 5:30-7:00pm

James Gosling, Hal Stern, Graham Hamilton, Jeff Jackson, Larry Rau, Mark Hapner

There was somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 attendees (I'm guessing). The lights were dimmed, and the panel was seated around a fake campfire. I thought it was a nice kickoff to the week, consisting of questions from the audience and answers and discussion around the fire. Graham and James provided much of the dialogue.

* Can there be anything done about the startup time for Java?

Big difference between cold start and warm start. Javascript certainly appropriate for some applications which need rapid response.

* Issues with releases on all platforms (specific issue with a JRE on an IBM platform)...

Talk to the vendor you're having problems with.

* Jini technology is certainly a great technology. It's used in Sun's RFID product, but why not N1? Why isn't it a bigger part of Sun's strategy?

Sun is moving in a direction for extending the Java platform with global computing collaborative technology. Jini is an interesting technology, and there's good application of it. In the broader interoperability space, you can't rely on having Java on both sides of the wire, though. Our focus is more on having an interoperable platform - providing the core building blocks for SOA, WS, etc. We'd be happy as clams if Java was used everywhere - but our Java partners have told us they're not willing to say that Java will be everywher, so need to embrace interop with other technologies.

* I see "Windows mobile" ads everywhere since I landed in San Francisco... what about Java in the mobile space?

There are a lot of players in the mobile space. The bulk of phones do support J2ME. In the U.S. the issue is getting carriers to support infrastructure. This would enable more interesting apps.

* If an API is marked deprecated - will it ever be deleted?

(JAG: I lie awake at night fantasizing about removing them ;-) ). We don't want to break old apps
so we're reluctant to remove them. There are only about 100 or so deprecated methods, so it's not that much. Most of the deprecated APIs are just warts, and not real problems.

* You mentioned that other countries have better J2ME infrastructures. How?

They don't block ports. Billing - charge sensible amounts for packet traffic. Good bandwidth. The Docomo guys made it easy for anyone to post an app, and Docomo would take care of the billing. This made it possible for small players to get involved and have it be lucrative (and thus, enabling interesting apps).

In the U.S. there are some ungodly number of cellphone infrastructures. In Spain, all networks must support J2ME. The U.S. infrastructure is still somewhat voice centric.

* In the ME space, there isn't a VM for pocketpc/palmos. Do you see any movement there?

* Regarding the JavaOne conference, ScheduleBuilder sucked a couple years ago, and it is getting a little better - but it still sucks. There are good print versions (of the schedule), but what's the plan for online scheduling for this conference?

Something we obviously need to look into.

* Why doesn't Sun allow publication, extension, etc. of JavaDoc?

Wed' like to improve JavaDoc. We do put a fair amount of investment in JavaDoc, and we host it as we'd like to have the developers come to the Sun site.

* How does the JavaOne developer community here compare to others you've seen around the world?

There are great software developers everywhere. We get to see some as part of the global Sun Tech Days. As an example, was in Johanasburg a couple weeks ago -- some really smart developers. All developers seem connected now, and there's somewhat a universal developer culture.

* What are you doing in the AJAX arena?

Doing a lot around AJAX. Check out some projects on and technology on

* If you could add, change, or remove something from the Java programming language... what would it be?

Maybe delete java.awt (not all of awt, just remove the components like buttons, toolkits, etc). It's just impossible trying to keep those things interoperable across all the platforms. In general, the sentiment is that from the beginning, only added things to the language that were *really needed*, so nothing really to remove. As for adding... if could figure out a way to do it... like to add light weight objects (things that are 2 or 3 words long, as cheap as primitives but behave like objects). Would also like to improve getters and setters.

* What's going on with multimedia and JMF (Java Media Framework)?

Not enough - last release in 2001 (?) and not investing heavily here right now.

* Java IDEs have certainly become a lot more powerful and useful. What features do you think are still lacking in IDEs?

Perhaps sophisticated refactoring tools. Also better debugging support.

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