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TheServerSide Symposium debriefing

Posted by erikhatcher on July 2, 2003 at 6:50 AM PDT

I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at TheServerSide Symposium last weekend. It was a wonderful event, and I hope many more are to follow! It was done in the same vein as Jay's excellent No Fluff, Just Stuff symposiums, except with vendors getting more air-time. I much prefer far less vendor (read: None!) sales pitches, but it was generally done tastefully with vendor keynotes during breakfast. The sessions I attended were definitely "just stuff".

Here is a list of interesting tidbits/links from my symposium experience:

Arrived Thursday afternoon, with a very "exciting" cab ride from Logan to the symposium hotel with Dion Almaer. Logan is the worst airport I've been to in my recent travels. Boston may be a great place (unfortunately I didn't get to see any of it on this trip), but my first impression is always the airport. After checking in and taking a quick swim, I had dinner with many of the notables of the symposium: Mike Cannon-Brookes, Jason Carreira, Cameron Purdy (the official symposium blogger!), Bruce Tate, Chistophe Ney, Rod Johnson, Tyler Jewell, and others. We were later joined by Gavin King, Vincent Massol, and my great friend Rick Hightower. Most of us were up well past midnight chatting.

Friday's sessions began with Rod Johnson's AOP presentation. I really enjoyed talking to him about his Spring framework on Thursday night, and that got me interested in hearing more of what he has to say. I've heard nothing but great things about his book. I presented in the second slot of the day, with my Advanced Struts presentation. This was the first time I had given it, yet it felt comfortable and I got a lot of nice comments about it. Don't be surprised, though, if I defect to the WebWork2 side of things (more on that below). In the afternoon I attended Vincent Massol's "Unit Testing J2EE Applications" presentation which was wonderful. He demonstrated unit testing via mock objects, with Cactus, using Ant, Maven, and Eclipse. Definitely keep your eye out for his upcoming fantastic (I know, I've reviewed several chapters) JUnit in Action book. Of particular note from Vincent's presentation was the emphasis on DynaMock, which I will be incorporating into my toolset. After Vincent's talk, I went to Bob Lee's JMX presentation. JMX is nice, and Bob really knows his stuff. After such a full day, I caught up with the head of Manning, Marjan Bace. There were several Manning authors speaking at the symposium, and Howard Lewis-Ship lives in the area and joined us in the evening for lots of fun discussions. I was on the open-source panel discussion Friday night, along with Bill Burke, Gavin King, Mike Cannon-Brookes, Christophe Ney, and Vincent Massol. I announced there that I have been elected to be an Apache Software Foundation member.

Saturday was my "day off". The day started with John Crupi's patterns talk. I've been a long time fan of the Core J2EE Patterns book which he co-authored. At lunch I spent some time speaking with him and became an even bigger fan of his. I intended to be front-and-center at Mike Cannon-Brooks " The movement,
the site, the technology" presentation, but I ducked out moments before the presentation started to spend some more time with Marjan from Manning before he left and the room filled over capacity in no time, trapping me out. I stood by the door and soaked up as much as I could. He covered the architecture of the system, which includes several OpenSymphony frameworks/APIs. After lunch I attended Kyle Brown's front-end best practices presentation. He is a great presenter, but the material was a bit too introductory for my needs. I finished the day with Mike Cannon-Brookes' WebWork2 presentation. Its a great framework, making it a very compelling choice over Struts. One of the biggest selling points for me is the ease of testing WW2 "actions", which are simply POJO's using the XWork IoC (inversion of control) and command-pattern facilities. Testing Struts can be done, but its not fun. My evening ended early, after grabbing dinner at the cookout. I skipped the keynote and panel that night.... the previous two nights of Java chatting past midnight took its toll :)

Sunday started with Scott Ambler's introduction to agile modeling. I've read his book, so it was not new material. I've been immersing myself in the agile mindset a lot lately also. Ambler has been a long-time hero of mine, especially after reading the elegant Elements of Java Style and modeling it in an Appendix in our book as Elements of Ant Style. I was expecting a bit more of a personal "hey" from Scott. I got a quick "SA" autograph in my copy of his book. I realize he's a big name guy, though, and was busy, but he was a reviewer for my book and I made sure he got a free copy of it. I'm guessing he didn't even look to see my name. A bummer about going to these symposiums is that I actually have to present and miss some excellent sessions, although presenting is fun and I followed Ambler's presentation with my eXtreme XDoclet one. I was really surprised by how many folks there were using XDoclet already. It goes to show the caliber of attendees at TSS. After lunch, I went to half of Ambler's agile database techniques presentation - I was expecting more meat, but rather it was a high-level overview of the issues involved. Not to mention that relational databases are a code smell to me anyway :) Before the mad dash back to the airport, I finished the symposium with most of Sean Neville's rich internet applications presentation. He did a great job showing all the options out there and diving deeper into the details involved in implementing richer user interface applications in a vendor-neutral manner.

Here are some other links to symposium information:

My sincere apologies if I forgot to mention anyone. Drop me a line and I'll be happy to add you!

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