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Software Summit - What a Blast!

Posted by bdudney on November 2, 2003 at 3:39 PM PST

There were about 700 really smart people at the conference. Every talk I went to was chock full of great content.
One of my favorite things in the world is to learn something new and man has this been a feeding frenzy. I had many great conversations with the people I've meet ranging from Lego Mindstorms to process and methodology. Here I'll try to sum up what I saw and I learned. I have detailed notes from each of these talks on my personal blog, if you are interested in more detail.

OK so enough fluff here is the stuff :-)


Keynote - John Soyring

The basic point of John's talk was despite the outsourcing that is happening there are jobs for people that have deep technical skills. He laid out eight areas where he (as the leader of IBM's services org) sees significant demand.

  • System and/or Solution Architects
  • Business Process Integration
  • Portal Design and Legacy Integration
  • Performance Analysis & Tuning
  • Security and Privacy
  • Orchestration and Provisioning
  • Linux Server Management
  • Virtualization

An encouraging talk all around. One of the biggest things he sees happening is Portals. He ranked them 5 out of 5 last year and he was wrong, they ended up being bigger than he could have guessed.

Another cool thing that he mentioned was the IBM Design Pattern Tool Kit. I have not had a chance to play around with it yet but is sounds really cool.

Monday Sessions:

First I went to one of the many web services talks. This one was given by Denise Hatzidakis and covered the myriad of standards that make up what we call 'web services'. I enjoyed the talk and learned that someone needs to consolidate the specs :-) The treatment of WS-I was good too, I got a good feel for whats in there and what the point of the spec was.

The next talk was about J2SE 1.5 by Mark Reinhold. Overall a good intro to the new stuff in 1.5. I had heard of everything that Mark went over but the meta-data (now annotations) info was really cool. I have been meaning to read up on that for a while but just have not had the time. His overview was quick but good. There is another talk specifically on the meta-data stuff that I'm hoping to get to by Simon Nash.

The evening ended with a Q&A session where I learned that I'm not the only geek teaching my 8 year old how to build robots with java and lego-mindstorms. :-)

Tuesday Sessions:

The first one was on XSLT 2.0 given by Bonnie Ricca. It was good. I was hoping for more info on the standardization of integration but that was not to be. What I did learn is that XSLT/XPath 2.0 is going to make our lives easier in many ways. One of my favorite things is that XSLT and XPath now use the schema data types. Just from a cognitive perspective it will make the lives of those doing XSLT much easier only having to learn one XML type system.

Next I went to the portlets talk by Dave Landers and learned a ton of useful info about Portlets. I am planning to do some heavy portlet work early next year so this was most useful. I learned that Portlets are basically a step back in terms of rendering (who wants to put HTML into their Java code anyway). So I'm anxious to dig into some implementation to try it out and see if I can make JSP's work better with portlets. I will also be putting some JSF UI's into some portlets, when I'm done I'll repost with the results.

Wednesday Sessions:

The first was on JSF by Stephen Stelting. He did a great job of presenting the basics of JSF. I enjoyed his presentation. I especiallly liked that he demonstrated some typical error conditions that happen with new developers. He also did a long example that showed several aspects of the JSF framework. A good presentation.

The second presentation was on Grid computing given by Paul Giangarra. All I had done before this talk was watch IBM's commercials that hint at grid computing (computing becoming a utility). So watching Paul go into detail and demystify the concept was great. I am really excited about the promise of Grid computing, but we will have to wait and see if the promise becomes reality. If it does we will be able to do some really cool stuff in the future. Grid computing (or actually the way apps have to be written for the Grid) reminds me of the way math apps had to be written for the Cray. He mentioned Globus and that looks like a cool place to start playing around with the ideas. If only I could quit my day job and play with new stuff full time!


Keynote - Simon Phipps

Great talk, Simon's basic point was the Open Source is not about free as in money free, but free as in freedom. Open source is enabled by the massively connected nature of our world. As expected (being from Sun and all) he talked a lot about the network being the computer. It was not a sales pitch at all but very interesting. Simon made the point that if we really thought the network was the computer then applications would be licensed differently and would run differently (and Sun is making some strides in the right direction with the $50/employee licensing). Lots of other cool stuff. Very entertaining and interesting talk.

Thursday Sessions:

First presentation was on Portals by Paul Giangarra. Cool presentation with only a little over lap on the Portlet presentation. I basically learned that the race is on to provide good Portal stuff (i.e. portlet containers) for the big vendors and that IBM's intranet has some really cool Portal stuff.

Finally made it to Simon Nash's talk on annotations (i.e. JSR 175). There is some really cool stuff that could be done with the implementation of this. I was kind of tweaked that there is no definition of how to process the annotations though. I love the fact that I can declaritively say that my class is a websource but I'm not at all jazzed that I have to cook up my own way of getting to the annotations (i.e. parse the source, the class file or use reflection at run time). The talk was great though. Simon was really cool and you could tell he loved this stuff.

Friday Sessions:

The last session of the conference (I had to speak in the morning) was on the Globus tool kit (the grid computing stuff referred to by Paul Giangarra). Very cool content and very cool stuff. The tool kit basically enables you to do grid computing according to the Open Grid Services Architecture (OGSA) standard. Mike Brown did a great job of showing some of the cooler stuff you could do with the tool kit. The demo he cooked up was really cool (even though it didn't work). Each of the willing participants downloaded Globus, installed it and copied a web service from Mike's machine. Then with a simple Swing GUI Mike started up an SVG renderer service on each machine and got the results back on his machine to display the final JPEG. There was some bug somewhere that made it not work on everyone elses machines so he ran a threaded version on his own machine. Anyway it was really cool and I learned that I if I ever get the chance to do some grid computing I'll jump on it.

One of the coolest things last week was that the list of stuff to read or research that has been piling up on my desk for the last few months is finally starting to go down. I have learned so much that some of the items will just be pushed off the stack until I need more detail. This was an absolutely great conference and I highly recommend you comming next year if you have any money in your budget for such things. It was fantastic!

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