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Gearing Up For JavaOne

Posted by duncan on June 7, 2003 at 4:28 PM PDT

Once again, JavaOne is upon us. It's hard to believe that this is the 8th JavaOne since it all started. Somehow, amazingly, I've been to each and every one. And each year is different. The first was, in many ways, the best. Java was new, I was younger, and every session was an opportunity to learn more and more. I remember going back to my hotel room exhausted every night from the raw torrent of information that was pouring into my head. And the presentations, well lets just say they weren't like they are today. Instead of professionally polished graphics, many of the slides were simple black and white affairs that were quickly tossed together. It was obvious that Java was going places, but nobody knew where yet.

The second JavaOne was where the promise of Java really started to appear. People had started figuring out what Java was for—and where it needed more work. I had already built several web applications using Java, and I was convinced that it was going to be a hit on the server side. Other people inside and outside of Sun were also starting to sing the praises of server side Java and—thanks to following the sage advice of John Gage to talk with lots of people—I got to meet most of them. The sharpest memory I have of that conference is sitting in the chairs wondering what it would be like to be one of the people working at JavaSoft—one of the people that got to shape the technology.

I soon got to find out what it would be like. By the third JavaOne, I had moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and was working for Sun on the Java Web Server. Somehow I had managed to get a job with a group that eventually became part of the J2EE team. I had an office just down the hall from James Gosling, and things were happening fast. After that JavaOne, I started working on the Servlet API and got to start a little project known as Tomcat to rework the Servlet reference implementation.

Times have changed since then. Tomcat was released to the Apache Software Foundation. Dozens of APIs came into the platform. The internet bubble came and went. Wars have been fought. And yet, here we are. In San Francisco to do it once again. Java is a lot different now than it was in 1996. The world is different. And each of us attending this one that attended that first JavaOne are different as well.

As for me, I no longer work for Sun, but even so JavaOne has become a metronome in my life. I can pinpoint events around each year's conference. At most importantly, the first JavaOne—going to the talks by engineers describing the internals of the VM and inspired by John Gage to become a better engineer myself—was a springboard to everything that came after in my career. And this year, the metronome ticks once more.

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