Devoxx 2014 impressions

Devoxx 2014 impressions  image #1

27 Nov 2014

Mike Croft, Expert Support Engineer

This year's Devoxx was the first time I'd been to any Devoxx conference, and I was heading there with Payara. If, like me, you've never been to Devoxx before, it's an impressive conference. As you would expect of a conference by developers, for developers, there were a lot of cool innovations around, from the Devoxx team as well as exhibitors, including 3D printers and Raspberry Pis everywhere! 

One of the biggest problems I found was knowing where to begin and what to see first. Devoxx knows its audience very well and there was a lot of focus on the future and trends like the Internet of Things (IoT). 

The first talk I went to was on websockets by Arun Gupta. I was already familiar with the technology, but Arun is a very interesting speaker to listen to. He was presenting with Peter Moskovits who had a great visual aid of long polling involving leaving grannies at the post office! Even though there was a lot I had heard before, Arun's demos were useful to see some handy Chrome tools, like simply using the console in the developer tools to open a websocket connection. 

It's interesting to note that websockets are still very new technology to a lot of people, hopefully these talks are going to help make developers more aware of them. C2B2 has been talking about websockets and the potential game-changing applications for some time now! 

One of the more interesting talks I attended was a hands-on-lab, led by Antonio Goncalves, which focused on JBoss Forge. Forge has been around a while, but the second version has made massive steps forward and changed a lot of things which weren't great about version 1. In a nutshell, JBoss Forge is simply a tool to help turn more of the basics of Java EE programming into the sort of boiler-plate which can be generated for you. Modern IDEs are very good at generating code, but Forge is trying something a bit different and hopes to work with current IDEs, not against them. 

While I was certainly impressed by the hands-on-lab, JBoss Forge still has a few quirks to work out. For example, it can generate entities for you and add in all the right annotations, but (using the command-line interface) if you need to refactor something, it still needs to be done in an IDE or deleted and recreated. Even though it's probably still not ready to use for creating production code, it looks like it would make sample app building incredibly quick and easy, and certainly has potential if it can gain enough traction with the community. 

One talk in particular I enjoyed was Adam Bien's "Pico services with Java EE 7 on Java 8 and Docker". I have a lot of time for Adam, mainly because I like his style of cutting through marketing and trendy new tools to get to the core of the issue! Even though his title was packed with all the current buzzwords, the core of his talk was that, while everyone is talking so much about the benefits of microservices, there is a big danger of going back to the bad old days of incompatibility. He went on to show that everything a developer needs for microservices is already in Java EE! 

The traditional view of Java EE as being bloated just isn't true any more, and this was really hammered home by showing a list of all the processes started by Google Chrome at idle. A single process (of many) took up more memory than a Java EE full profile server at idle, so the overhead of even running one app per server (as seems to be the trend with microservices) is negligible. Add to that the availability of the web profile (which, as indicated by a straw-poll in David Blevins' talk, not many people know about even today) and the fact that Java EE allows developers to maintain compatibility, it's hard not to conclude that Java EE is far more appropriate for modern development than its reputation among developers might indicate. 

Honourable mentions for some other great talks go to David Blevins, for his talk on Java EE game changers, including some very interesting proposals for improving the current state of annotations and a big push for community involvement in the JCP program, Nigel Deakin and his whistle-stop tour of JMS and Brian Goetz and Stuart Marks for their enlightening talks on Java 8. 

Finally, a big thank you to everyone I spoke to at the Payara stand, and those who patiently listened to me talk about the project before watching Interstellar. Payara is just starting out, but we're already blown away at how keen the community has been to share our vision for a strong GlassFish and a strong Java EE. Open source is nothing without the community, so a big thanks to everyone who is already getting involved! 

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