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I just returned from presenting JSF2 at three wonderful conferences in German speaking Europe.

Mathema Füjahrcampus is a smaller and more intimate version of the annual Herbstcampus put on by Mathema in the Fall. I really loved the Füjahrcampus. Mathema boss and noted author Oliver Szymanski gave several sessions together, including a full day workshop on JSF2. This was practice for my upcoming Java University Workshop on JSF 2. Thanks to Oliver, Michael, Nana and the whole Mathema team for putting on a great conference.

Audience during Ed's JSF2 talk at JSFDays 2009
Audience during Ed and Martin’s JSF2 talk at JSFDays 2009

The annual JSFDays Conference in Vienna was a huge success, with over 250 attendees and many of the leading individuals in the JSF community in attendence. For a conference mainly devoted to just to JSF, that’s a good amount. I particularly enjoyed Hazem Saleh’s presentation on GMaps4JSF, and Daniel Lichtenberger’s presentation on his JSF enabled software stack called Flexive. Very cool stuff. The slides and videos for most of the sessions at JSFDays are available at for a small fee at <http://jsfdays.irian.at/registration/preregindex.jsf>.

The annual JAX conference is the largest non-academic software development conference in Germany. I’d never had the pleasure of attending before, and it was really excellent. S&S has been running JAX since 2001 and they really have the conference thing down. This year there was one “JSF Day” during the conference proper, and a “JSF Experts Day” the next day after the conference. Thanks to Andy Bosch and Matthias Weßendorf; for organizing these days. It looks like the slides from the JSF Experts Day are available at <http://it-republik.de/jaxenter/jax/ccm_jsf_fr>, though that site may be for registrants only.

I’ve taken the JSF2 presentation that Martin and I gave at JAX and modified it slightly to make it available at <https://javaserverfaces.dev.java.net/presentations/jsf2-complete-tour.odp and https://javaserverfaces.dev.java.net/presentations/jsf2-complete-tour.pdf>.

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Nearly every work related thought I have now ends with, “but this could change because of the Oracle thing.” The subject of this blog is one of them. While riding the ICE train to Mainz after speaking at JUG Köln, I was catching up on email and came across a (likely now irrelevant) org chart for some group other than my own. I noticed a box filled with the names of individual contributors that lead straight to a Director level person, rather than going to a middle-manager first. I’ve seen such boxes on many org charts at Sun, and the corresponding inter-personal pattern for those whose names reside in such boxes is often, “I have more influence because I report directly to a Director”. This notion seems to be encouraged in the Sun culture as a carrot to motivate engineers who do report to a middle manager to want to become “more senior“ by getting into one of those boxes. The thinking is that influence can be measured by your tree-depth in the org chart. I’m happy to report that this is not the only path to having influence at Sun (but it does appear to be the better recognized one).

Here’s the path I’ve chosen. Rather than seeking to differentiate myself by communicating my value-add for maximum Sun-internal visibility, I decided to invest more effort in looking outward to help grow and engage in a community of developers around a specific technology, namely JSF. Whatever influence I perceive I’ve earned as a result of this decision comes not from my position in the pecking order, but from direct engagement with the community. I may not have the direct ear of upper management, but by engaging the community, and helping to advocate and influence their vision of how JSF should evolve, I have the indirect ear of upper management. I think this is a better path for me because I believe the voice of the community should carry more weight with, and be heard more clearly by, upper management. Such an approach certainly brings upper management closer to the customer, which is the cornerstone of building shareholder value. Thankfully Sun does support and recognize this path to seniority, but acceptance appears to be spotty across the company as a whole. Jonathan Schwartz’s emphasis on employee blogging is one way that Sun supports this path. Of course, all this could change because of the Oracle thing.

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