Whenever I build my JavaOne schedule, I typically do a search for some of my favorite speakers and see what they'll be presenting on at the conference. One of the names I queried using the schedule builder tool was Tasktop's Mik Kersten, who always has some interesting insights about application lifecycle management (ALM); but for some reason, nothing came up when I fished his name through the system. So when I finally got a chance to speak with Mik, the first thing I asked him was what he was presenting about at this year's JavaOne.
"Nothing," said Mik. "I've got no session this year."
It was a bit of a surprise. After all, Mik had four of five sessions last year, and he was voted a JavaOne rock star in 2008 and 2009. But despite his history of speaking on the topic of Agile methodologies and application lifecycle management at JavaOne, Kersten said he is finding that there are other forums that are a better fit for his message about collaboration, integration and ALM tools. "I'm really seeing the activity around the ALM side moving into other conferences," said Kersten, who indicated that attendees at forums like Agile2013 and even SpringOne are more receptive to in depth discussions on ALM. In contrast, JavaOne is really hitting hard in 2013 with developer-centric topics. "This year we're seeing more around mobile development and more around PaaS, and less around support for the application lifecycle."
Of course, Kersten's comments are in no way meant to disparage the JavaOne conference. After all, he's in attendance himself, and Tasktop has a strong presence on the JavaOne exhibitor's floor. More than anything, it's really just a recognition of an obvious fact - that JavaOne is, and always has been, primarily a developer's conference. "There is an intersection between application lifecycle management and application development. JavaOne has ebbed and flowed as being a good forum for the discussion of the intersection of these things." Kersten points out that when continuous integration tools like Hudson and Jenkins burst onto the scene, there was much more of an ALM focus to the conference. Obviously, with all of the talk going on about Project Lambda, the upcoming release of Java 8, and the recent release of Java EE 7, this year's JavaOne is ebbing away from ALM.
JavaOne 2013: A real developer's conference
If you are taking in this year's JavaOne, Kersten said the best way to make the most of the conference is to embrace it for what it is: an incredible chance for Java developers and users "to rub shoulders with all of the people who are defining how your applications are running." He suggests there are three areas you should be thinking about when choosing sessions and figuring out where to spend your time.
First, attendees should be using JavaOne to get a handle on all of the changes that are happening with the various Java APIs. It's easy to loose track of all of the incremental changes that happen to the language. JavaOne gives users a great opportunity to catch up on all of the latest changes, talk to the people who have instigated these changes, and discover how the latest changes and updates can become a part of the way you develop your applications in the years to come.
Secondly, JavaOne attendees should be paying attention to sessions and seminars that discuss how the underlying platform is changing, which on the one hand might involve low level changes to the JVM, or on the other hand how various cloud and PaaS based offerings are redefining the deployment environment and changing how the applications you are building today will be integrated and deployed in the near future.
And finally, JavaOne attendees should be keeping an eye out for things that just look like they're cool or cutting edge. "The JVM is a platform for innovation," said Kersten, emphasizing the fact that every year there is no shortage of developers pushing the needle in terms of what the Java platform can do. Not every moment at JavaOne needs to be spent acquiring specific skills that will help you do your software development job more efficiently. Each attendee should take some time to look around and simply marvel at the innovative things vendors and other developers are doing in the world of big data, cloud computing, embedded programming and mobile computing, even if those segments of the industry don't actually impact an individual's day to day development activities.
And of course, while JavaOne 2013 may be focusing harder on Java development than it may have in the past, there will be no shortage of discussions of topics such as continuous integration, Gerrit, Git, Jenkins and other topics near and dear to the heart of those interested in ALM. As Kersten said, "while JavaOne 2013 may not be giving you a holistic view of application lifecycle management, it remains the best place to go and learn where to be building and deploying your applications."