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The Java.net JavaOne 2012 Conversations: Markus Eisele

Posted by editor on January 7, 2013 at 7:28 PM PST

Toward the end of JavaOne 2012, the Java.net editorial team spent an hour or so in the very windy Taylor Street Cafe (a closed street block with umbrellas, tables and chairs, coffee, etc.) with Oracle Ace Director Markus Eisele (@myfear). Markus is a technology consultant, architect, developer, author, and conference speaker. He's also active in communities including Java User Groups, the JBoss community, and the JCP. And he's a photographer (my photo above was taken by Markus at JavaOne 2011).

There was certainly plenty to talk about. Our conversation was indeed wide-ranging, but the central topic we kept coming back to was community -- so that's what I'll focus on here.

This being the second JavaOne since the completion of Oracle's acquisition of Sun, I asked lots of people at JavaOne for their views on the world of Java as it stands a couple years into Oracle's stewardship. Markus noted that there have recently been published many articles praising Oracle's stewardship of Java. In his view, the articles are pretty much on target. He noted that key members of Oracle's Java team -- like Donald O Smith (@DonaldOJDK), Cameron Purdy (@cpurdy), and Dalibor Topic (@robilad) -- have been very visible to the Java developer community; they've listened to the community's comments, and they've been active in responding.

Markus next talked about the German umbrella Java User Group iJUG. Some might ask: "Why do we need umbrella JUGs? What purpose do they serve?" Markus says the reason behind the formation of iJUG is to facilitate greater engagement between smaller Java User Groups both among themselves and within the broader global Java community. If you live in a big city, your user group may have hundreds of attendees and you probably have some pretty major speakers at those events. But, if you live in a more rural area, some of your JUG meetings might only draw a handful of attendees, and it can be extremely difficult to find outside speakers. Linking these smaller groups together through an umbrella group changes this equation.

Becoming a bit philosophical in thinking about Java User Groups, Markus asked:

"What makes a community? It's not technology. A community is people who share a common interest."

Which, if you think about it, is quite true. There are all kinds of communities, based on every different kind of shared interest, from technologies, to sports, to schools, to gardening, to birds (we have 25 bird feeders in our yard, and we certainly are members of a wider "birding" community)...

Next, Markus talked about the JBoss Community. His contributions in documenting the Arquillian testing platform led to his receiving a JBoss Community Recognition Award in 2012. See his commentary on his involvement with Arquillian below:

Markus considers the structure of the JBoss Community to be close to ideal: "It's a highly engaged community, that makes contributing possible for every individual."

Markus is also active in the JCP. He believes that the progress represented by Java Community Process 2.8 (PDF) is a big step forward -- but (and even the JCP leadership itself surely agrees) there's still a long way to go.

For example, the JCP structure is still very formal, designating people as "Experts" or "Observors." This is a relic from the past, certainly, but Markus notes that this type of categorization of individuals would never occur in the JBoss Community. Elaborating, Markus said:

"Everyone is an expert in his field. A community is made up of an infrastructure that can bring together many experts to form an ecosystem. To be successful, a community has to find a way to open up its system to facilitate contributions on many different levels from many different types of contributors."

Shortly thereafter, other JavaOne commitments brought our conversation to a close. Consider following Markus on Twitter (@myfear) and subscribing to his blog (Enterprise Software Development with Java). Search for "heroes of java" on Markus's blog to find his great interview series with 20 (and counting) "Heroes of Java."


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