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Monday, December 13, 2010

Devoxx 2010

This year again 3200 passionate Java developers gathered during one week in the Metropolis of Antwerp. The Devoxx event is split in two parts: the “University Days” on Monday and Tuesday (long conferences, tools, trainings and hands-on labs), and the “Conference Days” from Wednesday till Friday noon (keynotes, conferences, quickies and “BOFs” (round tables)). In this short article we'll try to introduce you the hottest topics of this year edition.

Devoxx is big

Devoxx is 116 speakers giving about 150 sessions happening in 5 theatre rooms in parallel: 5 Keynotes, 65 Conferences, 16 University, 8 Labs, 16 “Tools in Action”, 14 Quickies, and 24 “BOFs” (informal discussions)! These sessions cover 8 tracks: Architecture/Security, Cloud/NoSQL, Desktop/RIA/Mobile, Java Core (SE/EE), Methodology, New Languages on the JVM, Web Frameworks, and Other. We could of course only follow a small portion of the talks (illustrated by the tags cloud here below).

Java and Web future

One of the hottest topics of conference was the future of Java. The road-map for Java 7 and 8 has been extensively described. Mark Rheinhold and Brian Goetz explained that the motivation of many of these changes is to make the language more suitable for multi-core systems, currently the only solution to increase the performance of a node. There were also lots of discussions on how the language should evolve in the future, with a vast majority of the participants voting for a break in the backward compatibility constraint. A big move compared to previous years is the growing popularity of JEE, due to the new version 6. JEE has solved many of the drawbacks inherited from the previous version and is now as seducing as the Spring alternative.

Another big trend for the future is the new Web standard, HTML5. With this new version, HTML is not only a presentation language anymore, but also provides new multimedia support (video, audio, 2D drawing) and many application API's (offline storage, local DB, cross-document messaging, WebSocket's (AJAX), geo-location...). All these new capabilities will turn the browser into a decent RIA platform. This will have impact in several domains: more responsive web application with richer end-user experience, more standalone applications being replaced by web applications, viable alternative to Flash applications... Moreover, in many circumstances, HTML5 can solve the problem of the mobile market fragmentation, where companies can avoid maintaining applications for many different platforms (iOS, Android, RIM, Win7, WebOS...). Together with the rise of AJAX based web UI, the REST style is gaining more and more support and will likely override SOAP and WS‑* specifications.

Other tendencies

There was also a whole track dedicated to “NoSQL” (a back-cronym for “not only relational databases”). NoSQL covers a lot of different approaches corresponding to different use cases. This domain is still moving a lot and lacks of standardization, but it's certainly an option to consider if you want to solve scalability issues. On another hand, by relaxing constraints on the structured data storage, it can help dealing with cases where the application must change often, by limiting the needs for data schema migration. The “cloud” was also a very popular topic.

On the front of the new languages running on the JVM, the most popular one this year was Scala, a statically typed language mixing object-oriented programming and functional programming. Though it has many supporters, many people think it will remain a niche language, because of the a learning curve and cryptic readability tendencies. The second most popular language was Groovy, a dynamic language that can be used as a scripting language for the JVM.

Last buzzword, the “Dev/Ops”, which express the “emerging understanding of the interdependence of development and operations”. This is more particularly applicable with new “agile” methodologies, where the border between development (or change) and operations (or run) tend to disappear.


But Devoxx is not only conferences. It's also giant Twitter walls; more than 26 companies presenting their products and distributing their goodies; 67 JUGs (Java User Groups), whiteboards, 140 Mbps internet throughput through free WiFi, lots of beer, French fries, after parties... and countless occasions to meet members of the Java community, from all over the world.

In a few words: Devoxx is THE place to be for every Java/Web/Mobile developer.

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