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A look back at The ServerSide Java Symposium 2007

Posted by zarar on March 27, 2007 at 9:42 AM PDT

Sure there was fluff, fluff is everywhere and TSS Java Symposium was no different. But in the end there were more code examples than SOA hand-waving and even when the so-called SOA gurus went about trying to sell you stuff, they usually backed it up (or at least tried to) with some kind of a demo which would translate through to the lowest common developer. Advertised as the most pragmatic of conferences, TSSJS kept its word for the most part with only a couple talks bordering on inanity.

Most of the speeches were tin-canned and delivered a thousand times before but if you've never heard it, its new to you, right? That's the optimist in me talking. There were some talks which could cure insomnia (Nati Shalom) while others entertained and informed (Brian Goetz - Java Performance Myths), but most fell into the category of "Here's a product X, it does A and B and it's good for people who are doing C". Maybe I'm being naive and not critical enough but at least that's what I got out of the talks.

Does all this AJAX stuff really belong at a conference dedicated to the "server side". Prototype and GWT? No matter how you swing it, it's still simple old JavaScript. I can see this being a topic at JavaOne where there's plenty of sessions to fill out but at a specialized conference like this one, it seemed out of place. I know a lot of developers are making the crawl over to the client side but to me these were sessions where the knowledge gained could've been done so using Google searches.

This was a smaller conference without any security guards armed with guns at the doors so technically anybody staying at The Venetian could get in (and some did thanks to Tech Target - lazy SOBs). All the sessions I went to had plenty of room to sit or move up and almost all the sessions went without an AV hitch (Ross Mason's Mule2 and Chet Haase's Rich Client one being the exceptions). Most of the talks were focused and concise and although the aforementioned fluff reared its ugly head often, it was in most cases, quickly put down in favor of practical speech.

The keynote speaker simply sucked, maybe I was expecting too much of Eric Gamma but the guy kept droning on about Jazz and how great the Eclipse team is. Didn't really feel the vibe man. After that on Wednesday morning, my expectations were pretty low but things got progressively better over the day thanks to some Spring2, OSGi, ESB and AOP talks. I think I also felt a lot better after Mark Richards told me that I'm not an idiot for not really knowing what an ESB really is or whether I need it. This was probably the best ESB talk that I went to. It's good to see a speaker who wants to make a singular point and dedicate his entire talk to it by guiding you through what went in his mind as he reached his conclusions.

I stepped up to the Google desk in the vendor area and asked some Googly guy what he was doing for his side project, for those in the dark Google has a policy of allowing employees to work on side projects for 20% of their paid time. It turns out he was wasting it by thinking about it for the past four months. I get a sick feeling every time I meet a Google employee. Can't really explain it. I think it might even be jealousy. My colleague still isn't over the fact that the Google supplied computers in the "Cyber Cafe" were missing J2REs.

The GigaSpaces logo was about as abundant as Gordie Brown posters, even penetrating a few talks through their new Interface21 partnership. Spring2's endorsement of SBA includes declarative XML and annotation support for the architecture, making the product-pitch much easier for GigaSpaces.

One of the regrets I have is forgetting to attend the cocktail party on Wednesday night, if anybody did go to it, do let me know how it went. Since I've already attended the one conference that I get allotted a year, I can't go to JavaOne which is a shame. If anybody's feeling charitable enough to fly me out, be so kind to do so. Great to meet a fellow Arsenal fan at the conference. Go Gunners.

If anybody cares, my reviews of the sessions are posted here:

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