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One of the most interesting things about JavaOne is the announcements. Some years, there isn't a single big announcement, while other years something of enduring significance is announced or released during JavaOne. While we won't know what surprise announcements or releases this year's conference will include, a look at the conference agenda, the keynotes, the tracks, and the sessions, can give us a pretty good sense of where the conference's overall focus lies.

For example, the Java Strategy / Technical Keynotes are described as follows:

The future course for modern-day living--in both the enterprise business world and the consumer arena--is being positively influenced by the ongoing innovation and value of Java. From enterprise application development to cloud computing to embedded machine-to-machine systems, Java continues to drive the applications and devices that enrich our interactivity with the world around us.

So, what does this tell us? We start out with "modern-day living" and end with "applications and devices that enrich our interactivity with the world around us." The topic is Java as a tool that applies to every day living -- rather than Java as a platform for running corporate data centers. It's Java on a small scale, in devices many people own; yet, there's also cloud computing, which enables interactivity between people and communities of people who are using these devices. Then there's also machine-to-machine systems.

Yes, enterprise application development is included in the keynotes description, but there is no content in the description related to Java in the corporate enterprise after that. So, the focus really does seem to be on devices and the interactivity they and the cloud provide to people.

Next is the IBM Keynote, which is titled "Java Flies in Blue Skies and Open Clouds." In this keynote, John Duimovich, IBM's Java CTO, "will talk about open cloud stacks, emerging PaaS environments, and the growing cloud ecosystem." All cloud, really, since PaaS is normally instantiated in the cloud.

The Java Community Keynote is a bit different, yet even the description of that provides some insight:

This year we ... look at inspirational uses of Java beyond the ISV... Come see how Java is used to gain knowledge that helps reduce energy consumption by terrawatts. Learn how highways are being made safer thanks to Java.

I'll guess that highways are being made safer through the use of networks of sensors that monitor traffic, feed the information back to a central application (running in a data center or in the cloud), and some algorithm is applied that ultimately controls traffic signals? That's one possibility, perhaps. Anyway, I'll guess that small devices are involved, which would mean embedded Java.

Reducing energy consumption by terrawatts... I know that a lot of work is being done on smart meters, that collect data from homes or perhaps also from large buildings, send the information to a central application, then (potentially) some type of controls are commanded to take action... This could be what they'll be talking about. If so, again, it's a network of small devices running embedded Java, sending data back to what could easily be an application in the cloud.

Finally, there is the Freescale keynote. There's no description for this as of yet. However, the speaker, Geoff Lees, is Freescale's General Manager for microcontrollers. Embedded Java again...

From all this, it certainly appears that small devices and the cloud will be central aspects of JavaOne 2013. So right now my expectation is that, if any big announcements and/or releases are made at the conference, at least some of them will be related to embedded Java and/or the cloud.


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-- Kevin Farnham (@kevin_farnham)

In the most recently completed Java.net poll, a large majority of developers stated that they have not yet done any development using JavaFX. Java.net polls are not scientific, of course, but it's unusual for the polls to produce such a decisive result.

Participation in the poll was high: 2120 votes were cast, and three comments were posted. The exact question and results were:

Have you done any JavaFX development yet?

  • 5% (102 votes) - Yes, I regularly use JavaFX
  • 6% (131 votes) - I've experimented with JavaFX
  • 4% (83 votes) - Not yet, but I plan to try it out soon
  • 85% (1804 votes) - No

So, yes, a decisive result. But, if you think about this, it's actually a pretty positive result with respect to JavaFX adoption. JavaFX is new. Not all that long ago, it could only run on Windows -- which limited its efficacy significantly, since a founding concept behind Java is that you can run your software "anywhere."

Then, consider the need for user interfaces -- what percentage of Java developers work on the user interface side of things? My guess is that it's a much smaller percent than the number of developers who work on the enterprise side.

So, if 5% say that they regularly use JavaFX at this point in the technology's lifespan, that's perhaps not all that bad. Managers will think long and hard before they decide to invest the time, effort, and money to replace well-tested existing UI software built in Swing (for example) with a new JavaFX UI.

As for developer interest in JavaFX, a combined 10% said they've either experimented with JavaFX, or they plan to do so soon. All in all, I'd say this bodes well for JavaFX.

The comments were both interesting and informative. For example,branded_rhombus pointed out that JavaFX still isn't entirely up to snuff in terms of Java's "write once, run anywhere" mantra:

Our desktop applications are written in Swing as we support Solaris as a platform. Unfortunately it appears that JavaFX will never support Solaris.

MichaelGrimm noted another area where JavaFX is not yet a universally usable platform:

Lack of support for languages written from right to left excludes the use of JavaFX. I have to use Swing until this bug gets fixed.

Meanwhile, pjmlp stated:

Our consulting projects have moved back to Qt/C++ on the desktop for multiplatform, and for Windows only projects, WPF. Not sure if JavaFX is not arriving too late...

So, while JavaFX has progressed significantly in recent years, there is still some incompleteness that bars some developers and projects from utilizing it.

New poll:

Our new poll looks ahead to JavaOne 2013, asking you to respond to the statement: The most important track at JavaOne 2013 will be... Voting will be open until Friday, September 6.


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-- Kevin Farnham (@kevin_farnham)

John Pavley, CTO of the Huffington Post (a pretty major USA political news/opinion site), has announced major infrastructure changes at the site: Huffington Post will be switching from an architecture based on PHP and MySQL to one based on Scala and MongoDB. This news came out in John's recent blog post, Sneak Peek: HuffPost Brings Real Time Collaboration to the Newsroom.

In that post, John states the reasoning behind the changes:

In the past we've used PHP, MySQL, HTML, and JavaScript but those technologies, the workhorses of Internet applications, are no longer yearlings. To build the next version of MT, Kai and the Athena team, wanted to take advantage of a whole new "stack" of modern tech to write our humanistic code.

A C++ co-worker friend of mine, who recently found out about my involvement with Java, asked: "Do you think Java's going to remain a major language?" That's guaranteed due to the enormous depth of legacy Java applications that are operational around the globe. But, when you consider the fact that major young companies have chosen to convert their infrastructures to JVM technologies (think Twitter, for example, the HuffPost, and others), it becomes clear that when it comes to scalability, the JVM is considered well worth betting a company's future on.

John noted that "Facebook has worked miracles around the scalability issues of PHP" -- but as HuffPost CTO, he apparently wants to base the future of his company's infrastructure on something a bit more reliable than miracles. He notes:

Scala is a relatively young programming language with several modern ideas built into its design. Scala was built on top of the environment of the older and well tested language Java. So Scala gets the benefits of Java's performance and stability while enabling developers like Kai to write simpler, more robust, and more reusable code. While keeping things simple, safe, and reusable can be done in PHP it takes a tremendous amount of effort. Scala enforces humanistic coding by default. (You can write bad code with Scala but you have to work hard to do it.)

I guess the question is no longer "Will Java continue to be a major language?" -- it's more about the JVM at this point. Will the JVM continue to be a major platform for scalable software development? I guess that can be answered with other questions: Do we think the Huffington Post and Twitter will be around for a while? Do we think other companies won't notice the decisions HuffPost and Twitter made, in switching their entire infrastructures to the JVM?

Yes, my C++ co-worker friend: I do think the JVM / Java will be around and of considerable import for quite a while into the future!


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-- Kevin Farnham (@kevin_farnham)

In the recently completed Java.net poll on Continuous Integration (CI), a majority of voters declared that they don't know what Continuous Integration is. A total of 280 votes were cast in the poll, which ran for two weeks.

The exact question and results were:

Does your company utilize Continuous Integration (CI) in its software development projects?

  • 30% (85 votes) - Yes
  • 9% (25 votes) - CI is used in some projects
  • 8% (22 votes) - No
  • 53% (148 votes) - What's 'Continuous Integration'?

This result (caveat: this is not a scientific poll) illustrates that some topics or technologies that receive quite a lot of commentary within certain subsets of the Java community may be quite unknown to many in the broader community.

Or, perhaps that's not quite true. Is it possible that the terminology isn't known to some, but the technology is? For example, might the result have been considerably different if specific continuous integration servers were listed in the question? Or if the question was "Which Continuous Integration (CI) server/framework does your company use?" with several different CI tools listed as the response options? That poll might be an interesting experiment...

Anyway, the results of this poll suggest that there may be a strong correlation between your company using continuous integration and your knowing what CI is. That's a little bit interesting, anyway!

New poll: JavaFX

Our new poll asks Have you done any JavaFX development yet?. Voting will be open until Friday, August 23.


Subscriptions and Archives: You can subscribe to this blog using the java.net Editor's Blog Feed. You can also subscribe to the Java Today RSS feedand the java.net blogs feed.

-- Kevin Farnham (@kevin_farnham)

Introduction

Larry Fernandez is a Principle Software Developer at Amway Corp in Ada, Michigan. He has been in IT software development since 1981, and was named an IBM Champion in 2012 and 2013. Larry's team is currently working on its second major Java/J2EE application using WebSphere Application Server technology.

In this fifth Java.net "Lightning Interview" we ask Larry to share some of the wealth his decades of experience in software engineering have provided.

Interview

1. Can you describe a way in which being a software engineer today is significantly different from what it was early in your career?

Larry: The technology available to software engineers today is more complex and changes faster than early in my career. The software engineer no longer uses a mere text editor to build an application. Now they use multi-function development tools which include editors, graphical aids, debuggers, execution environments, etc. to do their development work. The monolithic computing environments of yesterday have been replaced by complex computing networks that know no boundaries. Every few years all of this technology is subject to revision, upgrades, and even replacement at a pace that can only be described as "non-stop". Things moved a lot slower early in my career.

2. What's exciting to you about Java/JVM technologies today?

Larry: The proliferation of free source code and design patterns. Everywhere you look, you can find someone doing another Java open source project. If you want source code on how to do something in Java, you are an internet-search away from sample Java code. If you are looking for design ideas, prepare to wade through pages and pages of design pattern information. The sheer volume of available patterns for Java is mind-boggling. The greatest aspect of open source and design patterns is that the knowledge is free (thanks to the internet)! Free wisdom. It doesn't get any better than that.

3. What advice would you offer college students today who are considering a career in software engineering?

Larry: My advice would be to remember that many types of skills/abilities contribute to success in software engineering. In addition to having skills in specific technical areas (Java for one); problem-solving and relationship-building abilities are very important. But the most important non-technical skill/ability one needs to be successful in software engineering is passion. Passion for what you can do in software engineering. Passion for what you can contribute to software engineering. Passion for learning about what others are doing in software engineering.

Conclusion

You can read more from Larry at his Java.net blog, and you can also follow his activity as a member of the WebSphere User Group.


Subscriptions and Archives: You can subscribe to this blog using the java.net Editor's Blog Feed. You can also subscribe to the Java Today RSS feedand the java.net blogs feed.

-- Kevin Farnham (@kevin_farnham)

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