- By Dwight Deugo
EVERY YEAR I wonder how JavaOne will surprise me. You would think that after going to the conference year after year, it would start to become the same old thing. Well, I have to admit that I was surprised with this year's conference right from the opening keynote. With the current downturn in the high-tech sector, I was expecting far fewer attendees than last year. With corporate budgets and employees trimmed to the bone, how could anyone make a case to attend? However, quoting from Sun's own Web page, there were "over 20,000 attendees from all over the planet." Not one to believe Sun's numbers, I took a different approach to evaluating the attendance. If you were at last year's JavaOne, you saw people pack the Moscone Center's Halls A, B, and C for the keynotes. The same was true this year. To see if the Halls were the only place one would find attendees, I wandered over to the show floor. It was packed too, not only with exhibitors but with attendees. My conclusion was that the conference was as popular this year as last. People had come back in droves: attendees, exhibitors, speakers, the press, Sun employees; I was home, at least as far as Java was concerned. However, there was one person missing.
When I think of Java and JavaOne, two people always come to mind. Can you guess who they are? The first one's easy: James Gosling. If you have never seen or heard James speak, you should. Never a suit, never a tie, just jeans and a T-shirt. The model developer and innovator, someone we can all look up to. As usual, James was there to inspire us and to try to hit us with his T-shirt launching air cannon.
The one person missing was Scott McNealy, Sun's Chairman and CEO. Over the years, Scott has always been the conference's opening keynote with his state-of-the-union address, top-10 list, shots at Microsoft, and his nifty little demos. Maybe Scott was just trying to spread things around with the rest of his Java team. Maybe he had some pressing issues at the office, as I am sure many CEOs do these days. Whatever the reason, everyone missed him and the consensus was, at least with the people I talked with, that they hoped he would return next year.
Sure, there were not as many parties and not as much "free" stuff. But there were, as usual, many possibilities suggested—such as Java on the PlayStation 2 and Java in all kinds of mobile and embedded devices. There were also many past possibilities confirmed. And that's what I expect from JavaOne ... so I'm glad that was no surprise!
Dwight Deugo is a professor of computer science at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario. Dwight has been an editor for SIGS and 101communications publications, and serves as chair of the Java Programming track at the SIGS Conference for Java Development. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.