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Why Should I Bother Going To JavaOne 2007?

Posted by ronhitchens on May 7, 2007 at 2:45 PM PDT

I've attended every JavaOne since 2002, which makes this my sixth in a row. It was in 2002 that I wrote
Java NIO during that oddly quiet time following three roaring years of Internet frenzy. Java was king of the mountain and its future seemed brighter than ever. I was deep into Java and wasn't interested in anything else.

But 2002 was a year when many things changed. It was the year when it became clear that the Internet bubble had burst, that .NET became a credible threat, Sun started losing money big-time and the bottom fell out of the technical book market - especially Java books.

None of this was readily apparent at the time, of course. I had a great time at my first JavaOne. It's become a cliché I know, but JavaOne really is about the people. At that first JavaOne I met my O'Reilly editor for the first time in person. I met other authors as well as a wide cross-section of techies, visionaries, pundits and fools.

It was great. I remember telling my wife that it wasn't just a show, JavaOne was an opportunity.

And so I kept coming back each year. But things were changing. Sun continued to struggle and JavaOne diminished a little bit each year. Microsoft was gaining ground with .NET. New languages like Ruby and techniques like AJAX where stealing mindshare. People were openly speculating about what would come after Java.

And I couldn't find a decent job.

One of the O'Reilly authors I'd met at JavaOne was
Jason Hunter. Jason was doing some teaching about NIO and other topics. He offered to tech review my book and we stayed in touch, mostly by bumping into each other regularly at JavaOne. One day he got in touch to see if I might be interested in the company he'd recently gone to work for,
Mark Logic.

I was. In 2004 I made a fairly radical left turn career-wise and joined Mark Logic. It's been a total immersion in XQuery and XML on a scale I'd never imagined before. Our product is written in C++ and it presents an XQuery interface.

That's not to say I never use Java anymore. There is a small Java component to our product and I continue my side interests in Java in general and NIO in particular - I've been a speaker at the last two JavaOne's in fact - but I can't really say that I earn my living with it day-to-day any longer.

So this is the first year that I debated whether to even bother with JavaOne. In some ways, Java is suffering from its own success. It's familiar, reliable and ubiquitous. But it's no longer new and different. It's just good old Java. And that's a good thing. That's what mature industries are built on.

I'm going to JavaOne this year. I'm going for the people. But I'm also going for the Java. I want to learn what Sun's open source strategy is. I want to learn about SCALA and I want to learn about dynamic minigrids. But mostly I want to learn by connecting with like-minded people and letting the waves of new ideas wash over me.

JavaOne is people.

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