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I can't turn my back on you people for a second!

Posted by richunger on September 23, 2008 at 4:05 PM PDT

Man, I go away for one little year, and you all go and change the industry on me!

I'm sure most of you don't remember me. It's been quite a while since I've blogged here. I used to work on tools for developing speech recognition applications, and blogged a bit on NetBeans RCP. Well, after 7 years of that, it was time for a sabbatical. I’ve been all over the map, and met some really great people (hi Gustavo!) I also got married, and wedding planning is the absolute best reason not to blog. Now that I'm back in the US and settled in, I'm pumped and ready for new challenges.

As I made inquiries in my personal network about job openings, I was floored by the kinds of interviews I was getting. There's just some amazing things going on in the software industry. A year is an awful long time in Silicon Valley, and I felt like Graham among the aeronauts. (Maybe obscure literary references will become my new blogging trademark!)

I guess I'm really fortunate that I love what I do. If there were enough hours in the day to take 5 jobs, I would have. There's just so much fun tech out there, I want to play with it all.

Here are just a few of the areas in which I interviewed:


Android is a very exciting platform play that's got a pretty good shot at lifting the mobile apps industry out of the "embedded" (i.e. "lame") ghetto. Handsets with an actual uniform and rich development platform, and location information as part of the API! The persistence APIs look more like an enterprise REST API than anything else in the embedded world, and the execution model feels a lot like applets. All familiar concepts to legions of Java developers. This could be big. Mobile development could be fun instead of frustrating.

I really hope this happens.

Open Source

Hey, I'm a big fan. It must be a blast to be paid to work on an OSS project with an active community. Linux adoption is growing, OpenJDK has TCK compliance, and companies in and out of the software industry are recognizing the importance of OSS to their daily operation. I had an offer from a prominent technology company to help manage their internal open source community, and be an all-around OSS go-to guy. Pretty cool job description. In the end, I think I just wasn’t ready to move away from actually developing software myself, though.


Okay, so this interview was really done on a lark. NASA's building the next generation of mission control software, and it's going to be an RCP app (they hadn't picked a platform yet). They actually advertised on Craigslist, and NetBeans RCP experience was listed as a desirable job skill. This never happens. I was nearly done interviewing when I saw the ad, so the timing was awful. Still, I had to check it out. I had a great interview, and it sounded like fun. I suspect working for NASA is rewarding in a whole different kind of way than working for your average Silicon Valley tech company. I also suspect the bureaucracy and politics are tremendously stifling. Maybe I'm wrong, but I definitely got that impression from the people interviewing me. Still, watching a launch and seeing people using your software to coordinate it must be really thrilling.

Programming Languages

Anyone who attended JavaOne this year knows that Java the Platform has been effectively repositioned in the zeitgeist as a playground for language wonks. Groovy, Ruby, Python, and of course Scala are really going mainstream, and average Joe programmers are becoming conversant in topics like closures and type theory. Fewer people are talking about it, but I think Fortress is going to be absolutely huge. Being in the middle of all of that must be a blast.

Cloud Computing

If you peeked at my new bio at the top of this page, you know I ended up in this sector. Actually, I'm also in programming languages, as I'm on the Apex team.

I think we've barely seen the tip of the iceberg on clouds. There was really only one talk about it at Javaone this year, give by a couple of guys from Sun Labs. They gave a brief overview of the state of the cloud industry right now (just a few early players like, Google, and Amazon), and then they seemed to talk about Solaris features and how they scale the rest of the time. Not much meat. Next year, I expect, we'll see a lot more about this, as more enterprises see cloud apps as a way to streamline development time and costs.

It's really a fundamental shift in the definition of a development platform. It's so fundamental that even the current players in the market are struggling to define the terminology and figure out exactly how much of a platform to provide. Amazon's EC2 and's are at two opposite ends of this spectrum. You could almost run on top of EC2, they’re so orthogonal. New players in the cloud platform space may do just that. It's the wild west right now.

I'll blog more about this later. As I learn more about the nuts and bolts of a cloud, I'll take you along with me, and maybe we can figure out the implications together.

I’ll still be blogging some about NetBeans. I’m a newly-inducted member of the NetBeans Dream Team, and I’m still involved there and still track it quite closely. But, I no longer develop RCP apps for my day job, and as yet I’m still having trouble even using NetBeans with our source tree at work (I’m filing bugs and working through that). So, you’ll be seeing a more diverse range of topics from me going forward.

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