JavaOne: Fireside Chat w/ commentary

by Tom Carroll

Summary (Not in any particular order):

  • Get rid of AWT (Gosling)
  • Operator over loading (good (Gosling) and bad (Hamilton))
  • Simplicity, Yes
  • Participate in the JCP
  • Tell your vendors to improve their Java support
  • Netbeans
  • class loaders hard
  • Schedule Builder yeah what ever
  • US mobile infrastructure sucks
  • Fewer wireless providers could be good
  • AJAX use Java Server faces
  • Uh Time for Beer

My commentary:

Ok, this was the first time I attended the fireside chat. Problem number 1, the session should really be called the fireside question and gripe (bidirectional) session. Problem number 2, the panel seemed to me to be a bit aloof. If the question seemed a bit off or on a topic a bit off someone would mumble some remark followed up by Graham Hamilton PR techno speak (he does it quite well). Problem number 3, the answers for the most part were not really candid, I guess that happens when you are a VP Muckety Muck at a publicly traded company gotta watch what you say. And for the most part I think it was Graham Hamilton did most of the talking.

There were some interesting questions, there were a few about simplicity and ease of use. The responses from the panel were okay, but they lacked something. James Gosling talked about netbeans wrapping all the complexity which makes sense given the state of Java. It is many things to many people and that is never a good thing, someone is always left wanting. From the remarks I think Sun gets the ease of use issue, the problem is that there isn’t a great deal they can do.

Graham Hamilton urged everyone to get involved in the JCP process and work to make it better. Now I am not familiar with the JCP process, but I am familiar with standards bodies. In the end it comes down to vendors working very hard to defend there products and their investments. The customer is not a prime consideration, because there aren’t a lot of choices for the customer out there. I have seen first hand all the big vendors fight over standards, there aren’t many vendors who don’t have standards blood on their hands. So, I guess the call by Graham Hamilton rings a bit hollow for me.

There were some questions about mobile and why there are so many issues around the distribution of applications. One question about VMs for PDAs came up and the response from Sun was fair. The PDA phone market are converging and Sun has significant penetration and support on the phone platforms. The question about why its so hard to distribute applications lead to a round of telco bashing and rightly so. The comment from the panel that seemed to be wishful was that consolidation on the wireless market into a few companies might help the mobile application and data market.

OK, when has a consolidation ever been good for the customers of a regulated business like telephone industry. The consolidation of carriers in the wireless arena in my opinion will only continue to limit third party mobile application distribution. The telecoms want to maintain complete control over the vertical market, and even with big player like Google things like tiered network pricing could be used to limit third party access to the handset.

Finally, the schedule builder was mentioned at least twice. The topic was brushed off by the panel, a panel who admittedly does not use the tool (there’s a problem right there). I understand the schedule builder is a weak topic, but the brush off stuck in my craw. I spent a couple of hours dealing with the tool, time I could have been using for something a bit more productive. People pay almost 2k plus expenses to attend, then take time to attend the fireside chat only to have the questions about the schedule builder to be brushed off. Let me see if I can make the suggestion more palatable, How about a contest to see who can build a conference scheduling tool that also throws t-shirts.