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JavaOne Jini session MUCH larger than I expected...

Posted by kathysierra on June 30, 2004 at 12:21 AM PDT

Two good Jini moments today at JavaOne:

1) Scott McNealy gives out a Dukie award to Orbitz, with an obvious reference to what they're doing--it was the ConJINIality award! That's right. Jini, in a keynote. Scott McNealy. (Mind you, he didn't actually *say* anything about Jini, but there it was--right there in the name of the award.

2) The Jini session I went to was VERY well attended. It may have been one of the largest Jini sessions I've seen, in fact, in the last several years. It wasn't the coolest talk (although very nicely done)--I still miss the days of Bill Venners doing his ServiceUI talk, or the Jini-enabled white board, or the Jini-enabled light controls, or... But STILL. There were a LOT of people--I was too astonished at the size of the crowd to do an estimate, but it was in the several hundreds at least.

Somehow, the Jini fire still burns and has in fact seemed to ratchet up a little this year. Or it could be my eternal optimism that one day...

No, I'm convinced that something *is* happening. It's subtle, but it's there. For example, I found myself in the presence of people all day long who would make comments like, "Jini is so under appreciated." Or, "I can't understand why Jini isn't getting the attention it deserves..." or, "I can't believe that so many people want to use SOAP, especially in situations where Jini would be perfect." or "I SO want to quit my J2EE day job and do Jini" Things like that. I was thinking, "If everyone I bump into seems to feel that way, why isn't something happening?"

And then I remember... the newer Jini security stuff is daunting.

Developing and deploying a Jini service and client was never all that trivial to begin with, but the trickiness (in my opinion) was completely offset by how interesting and pure it was, and once you got your scripts setup, it really was pretty simple. But either those days are history, or the folks presenting the newer security features are trying to scare us away. Of course I realize that most of us MUST acknowledge and do something about security, especially in a system that--by design--downloads code unknown to the client.

With EJB, Sun's marketing message is: The Container does all the tough infrastructure services (security, transactions, persistence management, etc.), so that YOU get to focus on your actual business logic--the THING your app is supposed to be doing. But when you develop in EJB there's always that little nagging feeling that someone doesn't trust you as a programmer, so you're under very heavy constraints and there's a fair amount of overhead. It's like someone is there saying, "Don't worry, we're taking care of all the hard stuff so you don't have to worry your little head about anything but your own business logic." Still, it does what it claims in that regard--you DO get to spend a lot more time on your business logic.

With Jini, on the other hand, you feel like you've been given the keys to your father's sports car. You feel like somebody thinks you're smart. You feel like someone is saying, "Hey, you're on your own, but we trust you. You have the freedom, and the power, and the speed. "

Jini was a self-esteem builder.

Until now.

Because now, with the newer (and much needed) security, it looks -- at first, second, and third glance -- VERY intimidating. You can develop J2EE apps (web apps and EJB apps) *without* being a "security guy". But this newer Jini just looks scary. It *looks* like I'll spend most of my time doing the tricky security bits when I'd MUCH rather spend my time the way I used to in Jini--thinking about my service, and about the Jini-specific (and very cool) aspects of my service like, "Do I want a smart proxy?" "How should I register myself?", "What kind of discovery should I use?" "How many router hops should I make?", "How long should my leases be?"

Now, I'm probably misinterpreting (at least I hope I am) the percentage of knowledge and effort that one needs to put into Jini now in order to make the security work correctly. So that's my message to the folks delivering Jini talks and the folks trying to get others whipped up about Jini--don't scare off the newcomers! Get them into a frenzy with the inherent coolness of Jini, but don't bring up the overwhelming security parts until *after* they're hooked.

But I don't want my little "In Jini, the new security is scary" moment to take away from the fabulous news that Jini interest is very much alive and kicking at this year's JavaOne! Stay tuned...

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