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Day 1 - Sun Tech Days - Boston, MA

Posted by ryan_shoemaker on September 11, 2007 at 6:26 PM PDT

The 2007/2008 Sun Tech Days season kicked off today in Boston, MA and even though the event is much smaller in scale than JavaOne, it still had the same atmosphere: People wandering around from booth to booth with giant backpacks and huge id badges trying to figure out where to go next! I suspect tomorrow will be busier than today since that is when most of the technical sessions and all of the keynotes are scheduled. Since this event isn't as crowded at JavaOne, people are able to spend more one-on-one time at the booths walking through demos and asking questions. From what I could tell, the GlassFish booth was busy all day and I overheard at least one developer say how impressed he was with the GF v3 startup performance.

I registered for NetBeans Day which had sessions that focused on how certain technologies integrate with NetBeans. The track started off with a brief welcome from James Gosling. He spoke about how far NetBeans has come and how excited he is for the beta release of NB 6.0 on Monday. He also admitted that he gets goosebumps when he sees the NetBeans debugger stop at a breakpoint in code running on a cellphone (as opposed to code running in a cell phone emulator).

There was also a brief welcome from Mark Johnson who is the president of the New England JUG (NEJUG). He mentioned that the next NEJUG meeting (to be held at Sun's Burlington, MA campus on Thursday, September 13th, 2007) will survey a variety of open source java technologies. If you're in the area, stop by for some free pizza and learn about some of the most popular open source java technologies available today(register now).

The first two technical sessions I attended were given by Brian Leonard, one of our evangelists at Sun. He gave a general "What's New & Cool With NetBeans" presentation to bring the audience up to speed on NB 6.0. The main themes of this presentation were:

  • NB isn't just an IDE, it is also a community and a platform for application development
  • It is a full-scale production quality IDE for end-to-end application development from mobile devices to desktop systems to app servers
  • It is 100% java, free, open source AND supported
  • It has many new features that bring it on-par or surpass it's competitors

Brian really stressed the "NetBeans as an open-source community" point and encouraged the audience to participate. He pointed out a number of ways that anyone can join the effort, including: report bugs, answer questions on the forums, contribute to, write plugins, blog. Anyone can contribute and influence the direction of future versions of NB (NB 7 design is almost underway!). To prove the point, he showed a slide of gurus from outside of Sun that are heavily involved in the future of NetBeans. He also spoke about the new site. This is another great example of the NB community in action - the site contains interviews, how-to videos, screencasts, screenshots, etc related to NB. The remainder of his presentation focused on specific new features and improvements available in NB 6: project groups, the ability to stop and re-run apps from the output panel, multiple run profiles, major ovehaul of the editor, out-of-the-box profiling (cpu, memory, heap walker), and RESTful web services support. There are many other new features in NB 6(full-list), but that was all he could squeeze into an hour presentation.

In his next presentation, Brian focused on explaining how NB 6 can be used on existing projects. The main take away from this presentation is that there is no reason not to try NB 6 - it can easily import projects managed by other IDEs and projects with existing build scripts without negatively impacting the current project settings. One of his demos showed how you can load an Eclipse project (his example was the source code for JUnit) and switch back and forth between Eclipse and NB (a common issue when developers on the same team are using different IDEs).

After loading up on caffeine and chocolate chip cookies, I headed back in for two more sessions on Web2.0 Application Development and JRuby On Rails. Sang Shin presented an overview of technologies for creating Web2.0 applications. If you're curious how to teach thousands of people on-line, then Sang is the man to ask. He has assembled an amazing set of free on-line courses covering various Java technologies. Go check out his website: The presentation today was a collection of snippets from his "AJAX Programming (with Passion!)" course. He (briefly) covered: javascript, JMAKI, DOJO toolkit, DWR, DynaFaces, GWT, and Portlets. An interesting plug he made was for the "ajaxnetbeans" project at It's an open-source effort by a group of people interested in converting sample apps from different AJAX books into stand-alone NetBeans projects that you can simply open and run. Their goal is to make it as easy as possible for people to learn about AJAX.

The last session I attended was given by Rima Patel entitled "An Introduction to JRuby on Rails". Rima focused on explaining some of the core ideas behind the Ruby programming language, the Rails framework, and the JRuby interpreter. She also spent some time showing how easy it is to write JRuby applications using NB 6.

That's all for now - time to catch The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and get some sleep - tomorrow is going to be a busy day! I'm going to try to catch as much of the activity as possible tomorrow when I'm not doing booth duty. I'll post a summary of Day 2 on Thursday morning...

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