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Marketing to developers

Posted by daniel on June 22, 2004 at 5:40 AM PDT

You have some product or technology that you want to tell developers about - who do you hire to tell your story?

If you are trying to talk to Java developers about a new make tool, someone on your team who is on the call should have heard about Ant.

If you are trying to reach developers, why don't you hire developers to help with this effort. Sure, as a whole we aren't as smooth or outgoing as PR types - but we can talk to each other. When I was looking at colleges twenty-some years ago, one school had me spend time with the head of the math department. He didn't know what to do with me. He had no interest in helping the school sell itself. He asked me a few questions to figure out what I knew and then spent the next half hour teaching me some mathematics. It was the first school that I had seen treat a prospective student as a student. Other people did the glossy brochures and sold me on the campus, but someone took time to talk geeky to me.

In the run up to next week's JavaOne conference I'm getting calls and emails from PR firms that have been hired to call anyone registered as press. Usually, they want to arrange a briefing with some executive to discuss and exciting and groundbreaking new release that is standards based and ...

One told me about an exciting new tool for Java developers that replaced make. I asked how it compared to Ant and Maven. The PR rep on the other end of the phone said "I'm not familiar with those tools. They probably are not as widely adopted as our app." Another mispronounced the name of the technology she was announcing their product was now embracing. This wasn't SQL which some people pronounce "sequel" and others pronounce "S.Q.L." This was a technology that is pronounced one way and she pronounced it another. I received an email from another PR firm inviting me to visit them at "booth XXXX". I'm not leaving out the booth number to protect them - she left it out. It was a placeholder for later and it didn't get filled in.

To be fair, the make guy did call me back to tell me that he had checked and Ant was pretty widely adopted but his tool had these extra features. The XXXX booth was corrected in a follow-up email. I got called yesterday by a PR person who was explaining to me how using their product would relieve me of having to write code and my results would be vastly improved. I asked what she meant. She tried to use the right words. She said something about JavaServer Faces and came up with more and more confusing descriptions of what her product would do to improve my life. A quick trip over to the company web site explained what she was trying to say.

Your company also needs to consider how they feel about media. It used to be that if you walked around trade shows with a press pass, booths would welcome you and show you the latest. Now, many have been told that only PR can talk to the press.
As I look around at other Java sites, I see a lot of good editors and writers with a strong background in the technologies they write about. Pair them up with an engineer or a technically minded Product Manager and let's see what happens.

In Also in Java Today , start with Hani Suleiman's JDJ article Exposing J2EE Urban Myths and then move on to Justin Gehtland's response in J2EE Myths? Or Myth-understandings?. Suleiman defends J2EE as a " mature and well-established specification" and takes on nine misunderstandings as urban legends. Gehtland finds truth in many of the legends and argues that "J2EE often tries to solve problems you don't have, and you can often wind up writing more code to support your container than to solve your customer's problems."

John Zukowski writes that it may be time to move beyond Map, Collection, List, and Set with Tiger's Concurrent collections. He explains that "Basically, a queue is a first-in, first-out (FIFO) data structure. Some queues are restricted in size, so when you want to add a new item to a full queue, the additional item is rejected. That's where the new offer method comes into play. Instead of throwing an unchecked exception with a call to the add() method, you just get false returned by offer(). The remove() and poll() methods are both for removing the first element (head) of the queue. While remove() behaves like the Collection interface version, instead of throwing an exception when called with an empty collection, the new poll() method just returns null. The newer methods are thus more for when the exceptional condition is the norm. The last two methods, element() and peek(), are for querying the element at the head of the queue. Like the remove() method, element() throws an exception when the queue is empty, whereas peek() returns null."

John Reynolds writes about his Thoughts on J2EE, Spaceship One, and getting back to the moon
In today's
Weblogs, he writes " J2EE was created in an environment similar to the space race between the USA and the USSR. The explosive phenomenon of the World Wide Web created unprecedented excitement and opportunities, and Java proponents rushed to develop a platform to meet the demand. Carrying the analogy further, some would say that there was even an "Evil Empire" to race with."

N. Alex Rupp blogs about how he has landed my dream job.
He wants to "remind all the local guys I've met, who've studied computers because they thought there was a future in it, that there is a future in it, and that it's as bright as it ever was. And Open Source is going to play a huge role in it, perhaps bigger than anyone really knows. If you're a young developer (or language geek) and the times have got you down, stick with it anyway. Things will pan out."

John Bobowicz notes that the javafirmware project is's 1000th project. Again, thank you all for helping us grow.

Projects and Communities
, you can nominate yourself for the open seat on the Fairness board by posting to the voting discussion forum. Please read the information about the process that is posted there.

In What's New in the J2ME Wireless Toolkit 2.2, Jonathan Knudsen describes the latest release, which supports the Mobile 3D Graphics API, WMA 2.0, the Bluetooth APIs, and PDA Optional Packages.

Should code be licensed separately from the books that contain it?
In today's Forums, Zander writes "that you want to produce and licence your book under the closed license possible (since you probably want to get paid etc.) and release a CD (or a download from your site) with the code that is ALSO used in the book. Since you are the author of both that means you can re-licence your code if you re-release it. The CD you release with the book should then make clear the licence of the sources is something like the APACHE licence. "

Jimothy asks " Are there any packages or classes that you feel just never belonged in the Java core API to begin with? For example, does java.util.logging belong, or were developers better served by existing logging libraries like log4j? Would the Java community have been better served if such packages never fattened the API, or are we better off with "standardized" services such as java.util.logging?"

Gerryg still doesn't understand "why the WebStart/JNLP stuff only works if a full JRE is available. Because of the way it's built, it could treat the JRE just like the apps -- stream in only the chunks that are needed for the app in question. There's still a core API that you have to have, but the extensions, look & feels, localization, and other stuff could be streamed in if needed."

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