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Black Pepper at JAOO - 2008

Tuesday

(Late Monday evening) Chatting with Martin Fowler and ThoughtWorks founder Roy Singham, I was asked to compare JAOO with other conferences that Black Pepper employees attend. The only real comparison for me was with JavaOne because that's the only other conference I've been to in recent years. But the difference is clear and JAOO wins by a Danish Mile.

The quality of the speakers, the material they cover, the ease of access from Europe, the focus on development and developers and the non-partisan context all make JAOO a much more exciting and rewarding conference for me. I still love JavaOne, but JAOO as something special for developers seeking to do better.

Day 2 of the conference and it was full of surprises. Google kicked off with a description of V8, the new JavaScript VM in Chrome. Obviously I can't run Chrome because I use Linux, but I'm told I can run V8. Google offered one clear reason for developing V8: To raise the JavaScript performance bar for all browsers. We're told that developers build their Web 2.0 applications to the lowest common denominator (or highest common factor, thanks Chrisl) so Google want to make the worst (browser) better for everyone. What I don't get is why they didn't write V8 as an extension to Firefox so we all got the benefit immediately? And why not make the Firefox UI 'minimalist' too? Was it really necessary to put all that effort into a completely new browser?

Micheal T. Nygard was next up talking about 'Failure comes in flavors' where he describes a series of production issues, that have have common themes, for which he then outlines patterns to address the issues. I'd say that I've stumbled across almost every issue he described, but in some cases I thought the issue was a design feature! He introduced the ideas behind patterns such as Bulkhead, Timeout and Circuit Breaker. All are somehow vaguely familiar, but never have they been so well described and the rationale so clearly put forward. They are all in his book 'Release it!' and Chris has already ordered a couple of copies for the office. Fantastic stuff.

Next up was James O. Coplien with a talk called 'Not your Grandfather's Architecture: Taking Architecture into the Agile World'. Jim is well known for having strong opinions and expressing them with vigour and in a manner that some folks find arrogant and condescending. Today's talk was no exception. What was exceptional was the lack of architectural content in his proposition. To my mind what he described was nothing more than a design pattern that may be well suited to a particular set of scenarios. Nothing more, nothing less. His view is that this concept will change the (OO) world as we know it... We've all been missing the point for the last 30 years... Only in the last 2 months has it all become clear... I could give a long list of the architectural issues that his design doesn't address but I won't bother - you probably already know them.

Peter Zimmerer talked about 'Software Architects and Testing'. He clearly comes from testing background and had good advice on what architects should do about testing architectures. I wonder if Jim was in the audience;-)

Monday

The highlight from today was the talk from Guy Steele on Fortress. It captured the main theme of the conference, which is all about how languages in the future will provide support for multi-processor systems. The main drive is towards functional programming so Erlang has been mentioned several times. Guy's talk described the problems with current programming techniques and how those problems are addressed in Fortress.

The other interesting talk was from Ben Goodger from Google who described the design behind the new Chrome web browser.Of course we're still waiting for a Linux version, so for me it was the first time I'd seen Chrome.

Finally, we seem to be heading for cloud wars. We've had OS wars (OS/2 v Windows and others) and we've had browser wars, so it's clear that the main players are lining up for cloud wars!

Sunday

This years JAOO 2008 conference kicks off tomorrow morning and I'm here in Denmark with Chris and Dave looking forward to some great sessions. Julia is joining us tomorrow after some quick work rearranging flights.

I'll post details of the first day's highlights as they unfold during the day.