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Java Posse Roundup 2009 - Part I

05 March 2009

The first two days are over, time to wrap up the first half of it. The actual conference started on Tuesday but the day before there was a Hackathon on alternative languages on the JVM. But let me start from scratch.

My flight to the states was actually quite nice although it took me almost 24h to finally get to Crested Butte, Colorado. Crested Butte is situated in the western Rocky Mountains about 4h south west from Denver. It’s named after the mountain right next to the city and very nice place to do wintersports of all kinds.

Monday

Monday was really messed up because of the jetlag, but that really just turned out in the evening. We had a so called Hackathon the entire day. We split up into few groups exploring features of Scala, JavaFx, Fan as well as Groovy/Grails. In the morning I joined the Groovy/Grails group and met Todd Costella, Alf Kristian Støyle and D.J. Hagberg. We discussed various intentions why you might want to introduce a scripting languages, pitfalls of doing so and so on. After that we kickstarted some grails application. And tried to investigate a little more on that. Intrestingly it didn’t take us that much time to find the first serious things. if you want to take a look at the summarizing presentation we gave, check out the JavaPosse Youtube channel.

In the afternoon we went back to Posse house joining the Scala and JavaFx folks. Tor Norby was some kind of hosting the JavaFx group. They decided to programm some kind of stopwatch that counts down from 5 minutes and changes background and audio the further it targets the 0. They did a kinda ugly prototype just to explore the languages features while Joe Nuxoll (another JavaPosse member) designed a much more pleasing interface with Photoshop. The kinda awesome thing is, that you can simply export the Photoshop file, import it into JavaFx Netbeans plugin and you will be able to manipulate all the layers named jfx:*.

The reason the build this thing was the so called Lightning Talks that we use to do in the evenings. The idea is that you have exactly 5 minutes - not a single second more - to present whatever you like. So you esentially have to sell your point in these 5 minutes, which is kinda hard, as we have seen the last two days ;). If you want to check out these lightning talks, go to JavaPosse Youtube channel.

Tuesday

Tuesday morning we were introduced to the concept of Open Space Conferences. It boils down to rather some kind of discussion thing instead of the one-guy-talks-one-hundred-are-sleeping thing you are used from other conferences. Bruce Eckel who some of you might be familiar with ganve some short intro into that and then we put  our session suggestions for the days on a whiteboard.

The first session was on (measuring) productivity. Intrestingly we did not discuss any tools at all but rather discovered that communication and processes very much are the critical point. The second one was on application modularity. We briefly covered plugin architectures, OSGi, (plain) Spring based ones and so on…

In the afternoon I decided not to go skiing so I went to Bruce Eckels house joining the guys who wrote a JavaFx as well as Flex port of Dick Walls JFlubber. These coding dojos are really kind of an seance thing. Although I rather prepared my lightning talk for Wednesday there is an amazing spirit kreeping up there.

In the evening we had the first “real” lightning talks that were actually quite impressing as you can see that some of these guys are pretty much into it and know how to sell their point in 5 minutes. A key thing is that there is absolutely no topic scope given so we had a lightning talk on Selenium as well as a “How did I get 3/4 of the man I was” by Bill Pugh speaking about his diet where he lost a lot of weight. So all that stuff is kinda funny and really geeky…

Wednesday

This morning we started of with a session on developer communication skills, pointed out problems of non colocated teams and all those kinds of stuff. The second one was on Maven. We got actually into bashing it a lot of times but every now and then we emphasized that it actually does a great job except the pitfalls we had discussed. I hope I could convince Dick to take a look at the m2Eclipse plugin. The last session before lunch target developer productivity, how to setup workplaces and so on. Unfortunately I couldn’t attend it entirely as my snowboard lessons kicked rigth of at 1pm. This one was awesome, too. I actually had booked a group lesson but was the only one showing up. So I spend 1 and a half hour in the playgrounds and had 2 (rather sloppy) rides downhill then.

In the evenings there were a lot of further lightningtalks. I had my first one on Hades. I probably will do another one tomorrow. Topic: Coding and Music - Passion and Profession. I actually want to point out some analogies between being a developer and being a musician.

Summing up the first days

Actually there is not that much to say except that it’s awesome. Everyone here is so passionated, talented and into it, I can hardly believe it. Just to give you an impression: Take the last conference you attended. Take the 3 most intresting hallway discussions you had there. Imagine this kind of thing happen 5 days and yo will pretty much get the sense of what this event here is about. I’m really looking forward to the last few days…

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