Thursday, 14 April 2011

JAX London April 2011

JAX London was a great conference. The venue was better than before and they have refined the speaker selection to suit the target London audience. There were many good talks, these were the highlights:

Dan North, keynote talk on the Agile day was totally absorbing. I think we are at the stage where 'Agile' is the norm for good development teams; when IBM's RTC has good support for Agile that means it's mainstream :-).  So, it's time to look beyond Agile - Dan talked about patterns that he observed in 'insanely productive' teams. I particularly liked 'Fits in my Head' - keeping design small or modular enough so that you can reason about the whole thing. I also liked his observation that OSGi done well is 'fantastic in this space'.

In the past I always wanted to go to Ted Neward's talks but somehow they always seemed to conflict with something else I had to do. So this time I went to the 'Busy Developers Guide to Scala' and the 'Busy Developers Guide to Gamification'. The Scala talk was perfect for me as I know nothing about Scala, the gamification one was a mystery. The thesis was that you can make work more fun by making it like playing games somehow. It may work if you like game playing but as a game-hating manual-reader it made no sense to me. However - looking round the room I think I may have been the only person that wasn't buying the idea.

Holly and Valentin (from the Apache Aries project) did a good review of the range of freely available OSGi tooling - the PAX stuff is particularly interesting. I also enjoyed Richard Nicholson's (Paremus) talk - 'Modularity meets the Cloud'.  Paremus are doing really interesting leading edge work, leading edge in the sense that they are getting to and solving problems before most of us realise they are problems.  Well worth having a look at their products if you are serious about OSGi. Neil Bartlett's OSGi live coding challenge was great too - a bit scary in places - but absolutely the best one of these that I've seen done for OSGi.

Chris Aniszczyk gave a beautifully constructed talk and demonstrated seamless integration of Git, Mylyn, Eclipse and Hudson (Jenkins or whatever).

Finally - Martijn Verburg gave the only talk on Java at JAX. Nice introduction to Java 7  - there are some pretty compelling new features, not headline stuff, but things that will make Java code smaller and tidier. For example being able to have strings in case, separate long numbers with underscores, better file IO features. Not exciting maybe but so important. Great to see the Java language catching up with PHP in terms of usability :-).

I hope JAX maintain this standard, I talked to many attendees in the breaks and everyone I spoke was both enjoying the conference and deriving value from it. Well done to the JAX team - keep it up!