JavaOne 2010 was a mess.
Last year a cloud of gloom hung over the three or four San Francisco hotels in which Oracle had sliced, diced and distributed all of the JavaOne sessions. There was a clear and palpable feeling of distrust and uncertainty that permeated the on-goings, and a typical sentiment was 'JavaOne was a lot better when Sun was running it.'
But despite the inclement weather during this first week of October, the cloud hanging over JavaOne appears to have moved on. There is still an ongoing sentiment that things were better when Sun was running the show, but at the same time, there was consensus that things were significantly better than 2010.
"JavaOne is better this year. It's much more lively." Says Vaadin CEO, Joonas Lehtinen, who spent most of his time pressing the flesh and pushing the Vaadin message while manning his company's booth in the exhibition hall. And it was the exhibition hall that perhaps best personified the positive change in mood.
There was significantly more foot traffic in the exhibition hall this year. Last year, you almost felt sorry for the exhibitors who paid for floor space. An article published by TheServerSide before JavaOne 2011 suggested moving the JavaOne exhibit hall into the Moscone Center, where OracleWorld is concurrently hosted, in order to give JavaOne exhibitors the foot traffic they deserve. But this year, foot traffic was significantly heavier than last year, and the quality of the exhibitor booths were significantly higher as well.
Of course, not everything was perfect. Last year's beer tent was replaced with a roped off, open-concept lounging area. That avoided last year's problem of it getting too stuffy inside the plastic walls, but it introduced a new problem when cold winds and rain moved in. Java professionals can get ornery when they can't comfortably sip their free coffee and beer.
And the sentiment that spreading the conference across three or four hotels hurts the social and interactive aspect of the event still prevails. But overall, the feeling was largely positive. Let's hope JavaOne 2012 can enjoy the same year-over-year improvement that the 2011 conference did.