Friday, June 12, 2009

JavaOne Conference

Duke and myself ;)
It has been a long week in San Francisco while I was attending the JavaOne conference. Sessions started at 8:30 AM and finished after 9:30 PM!

Among all reviews that have been published, read this ones: Community day on Monday, Conference day 1 on Tuesday, Day 2 on Wednesday, Day 3 on Thursday, and Day 4 on Friday. Sun's website contains also a complete list of conference articles. Pictures of the event are available on Sun's Photo Center website.

I went there with two objectives:
  • See JavaFX in action;
  • Look at all efforts around JavaME and the MSA initiative.
JavaFX technology stack

Eric Klein, Vice President, Java Marketing, Sun Microsystems
I came without preconceived idea around JavaFX, just with my background as a JavaScript/Java developer and my knowledge of Flex and AIR.

The first deception came from looking at the scripting language: Man! they invented yet another language :( For sure, the JavaFX scripting language is nicely handled by NetBeans 6.5+ (except the code formatting) but new paradigms and new conventions are a big barrier to adoption to me. Can you figure out what the following code is doing?

public class Button extends CustomNode {
  public var up: Node;
  content: Node = up;
  public override function create(): Node {
    return Group {
      content: bind content
If the visual effects to animate texts, pictures, and video are really great, the native support of a sound library is really missing! For example, I would expect to be able to synchronize KeyFrame objects with sound tracks but the KeyFrame.time attribute has to be set manually—not very flexible when it's time to change the sound track...

The pros are:
  • A coming visual editor to prepare clips;
  • A large library of image and video effects;
  • The multi-platform support, especially for mobile devices.
Platform dependent packaging is nicely handled: NetBeans project properties pane provides choices among {Standard Execution, Web Start Execution, Run in Browser, Run in Mobile Emulator}. As a Web developer, I am just sorry to see that the application window size cannot be expressed in percentage, that the auto-resizing is handled transparently, which is not better than usual Flex applications.

Last point: I have not seen how to invoke JavaFX handlers from JavaScript ones, and vice-versa, when the application is deployed to run in browsers. If you have a source for these information, please, drop the link in a comment.

JavaME technology stack

Christopher David, Rikko Sakaguchi and Patrik Olsson
during Sony Ericsson General Session
This was definitively the most interesting domain to me. During one session, it has been announced that 60% of shipped mobile devices in 2008 are Java-enabled. In 2009, the market share should grow up to 70%. In relation with the iPhone, Scott McNeally did this joke: the possible future Sun owner Larry Ellison might succeed to open the iPhone platform to Java because he is a well known friend of Steve Jobs.

Compared to the Java Standard Edition (J2SE) and the Java Enterprise Edition (J2EE), the Java Mobile Edition (J2ME) has more external contributors. Under the Mobile Service Architecture (MSA) initiative, a lot of mobile device manufacturers and telecommunication operators participate to the Java Community Process (JCP) to deliver Java Specification Requests (JSRs). Note that MSA itself is defined as a JSR: JSR 248. As of today, most of the recent phones are MSA 1.1 compliant (this is a mandatory requirement for the telco Orange, for example). Nokia and Sony Ericsson have shipped a lot of MSA-compliant handsets, LG, Samsung, and Motorola shipped very few ones. The standard MSA 2 (JSR 249) is being finalized and it contains the promising JSRs:
Additional APIs I imagine many developers are looking forward: JSR 257 Contactless communication API and JSR 229 Payment API.

MSA evolution and its JSR set
(from the MSA specification documentation)
(click to enlarge)

All major manufacturers have opened or are opening "App Stores" a-la Apple. They open also their development platforms. More companies will be able to adapt their software offering to mobile devices. Even Sony allows anyone to write application to run in Blu-ray Disc players. The main difficulty on developer-side is the fragmentation: there is no standard API allowing to discover the features supported by a device! Developers have to rely on each manufacgturer's feature list and on exception handling :(

The Blackberry platform is pretty well controlled and should be easy to develop on. Then follows Sony Ericsson which provides consistent phone classes (i.e. what works for one phone in the JP 8.4 class work for all phones in that class). The delivery of the Sun JavaME SDK 3.0 containing many third-party emulators (even one for Windows Mobile devices) added to better on-device deployment and on-device debugging capabilities, should motivate more and more developers.

I have not enough experience with Android (just got one Android dev phone two weeks ago) to compare it to the JavaME technology stack. I don't know neither about Symbian (Nokia devices) or LiMo (Motorola devices) platforms.

Exhibition hall

Besides the visit of mobile device manufacturers (RIM and Ericsson) booths, I visited:
  • Sun's project Fuji (open ESB) with a Web console using <canvas/> from HTML5, like Yahoo! Pipes.
  • Convergence, the Web client for Sun's communication suite, built on the top of Dojo toolkit ;)
  • INRIA (French national R&D lab) for its static code analysis Nit.
  • Isomorphic Software for its SmartClient Ajax RIA System.
  • eXo Platform (on OW2 booth) for its eXo Portal offering.
  • Liferay, Inc. for its eponymous portal.
Other discoveries

James Gosling and myself ;)
I attended very good presentations, like the opening keynote which was fun. Among the good presenters, I can mention (ordered alphabetically):
If you have a Sun Developer Network (SDN) account (by the way, it's free), you can view the slides of the technical sessions at:

Special mention

I want also to mention the call to developers by MifOS people who have been awarded by James Gosling during the Friday morning general session. This organization develops open source software for microfinance institutions (MFIs) to help them managing loans and borrowers (see demo). Really nice initiative started by the Grameem Bank!

Excerpt from James Gosling Toy Show report:
Microfinancing Through Java EE Technology

Gosling next introduced a group whose great innovation with Java technology was social and not technical. Sam Birney, engineering manager and Mifos alumnus, and Van Mittal-Hankle, senior software engineer at the Grameen Foundation, took the stage to receive Duke's Choice awards for their work using Java EE to serve 60,000 clients worldwide in microfinancing, a highly successful means of helping poor people get small loans and start businesses.

Mifos is open-source technology for microfinance that is spearheaded by the Grameen Foundation.

"Sometimes excellence comes not from technical innovation but in how technology is used," explained Gosling. "This is an example of using Java technology to really improve people's lives."

With an estimated 1.6 billion people left in the world who could benefit from microfinance, the men put out a call for volunteers to contribute to the Mifos project..

What's next?

What are my resolutions? Get a Mac as the development platform (Eclipse works on MacOS and I can use a Win7 image within VirtualBox), and start development on Java enabled phone (at least MSA 1.1 compliant).

A+, Dom


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  2. Thanks Mark for the great compliments.

    JavaOne has always been a great show with a lot of useful sessions. With the recent move from Oracle regarding patents on Java, I think Java developers might desert Open World this September...

    A+, Dom