Teddy in Antwerp

2010-12-12 21:30
When at Devoxx Teddy went to the city taking a few pictures of the Grote Markt, the Haven as well as the main train station.

Apache Lunch Devoxx

2010-12-11 21:30
On Twitter I suggested to host an Apache dinner during Devoxx. Matthias Wesendorf of Apache MyFaces was so kind to take up the discussion carrying it over to the Apache community mailing-list. It quickly turned out that there was quite some interest with several members and committers attending Devoxx. We scheduled the meetup for Friday after the conference during lunch time.
I pinged a few Apache related people I knew would attend the conference (being a speaker and a committer at some Apache project almost certainly resulted in getting a ping). Steven Noels kindly made a reservation at a restaurant close by and announced time and geo coordinates on party.apache.org. Although several speakers had left already that very same morning, we turned out to be eleven people – including Stephen Coleburn, Mathias Wessendorf, Steven Noels, Martijn Dashorst of the Apache Wicked project. Was great meeting all of you – and being able to put some faces to names :)

Devoxx University – Productive programmer, HBase

2010-12-04 21:17
The first day at Devoxx featured several tutorials – most interesting to me was the pragramatic programmer. The speaker also is the author of the equally named book at O'Reilly. The book was the result of the observation that developers today are more and more IDE bound, no longer able to use the command line effectively. The result are developers that are unnecessarily slow when creating software. The goal was to bring usage patterns of productive software development to juniors how grew up in a GUI only environment. However half-way through the book, it became apparent that a book on command line wizardry only is barely interesting at all. So the focus was shifted and now includes more general productivity patterns.
The goal was to accelerate development – mostly by avoiding time consuming usage patterns (minimise mouse usage) and automation of repetitive tasks (computers are good at doing dull, repetitive tasks – that's what they are made for.
Second goal was increasing focus. Two main ingredients to that are switching off anything that disturbs the development flow: No more pop-ups, not more mail notifications, no more flashing side windows. If you have ever had the effect of thinking “So late already?” when your colleagues were going out for lunch – then you know what is meant by being in the flow. It takes up to 20min to get into this mode – but just the fraction of a second to be thrown out. With developers being significantly more productive in this state it makes sense to reduce the risk of being thrown out.
Third goal was about canonicality, fourth one on automation.
During the morning I hopped on and off the Hadoop talk as well – the tutorial was great to get into the system, Tom White went into detail also explaining several of the most common advanced patterns. Of course not that much new stuff if you sort-of know the system already :)

Devoxx Antwerp

2010-12-03 21:16
With 3000 attendees Devoxx is the largest Java Community conference world-wide. Each year in autumn it takes place in Antwerp/ Belgium, in recent years in the Metropolis cinema. The conference tickets were sold out long before doors were opened this year.
The focus of the presentations are mainly on enterprise Java featuring talks by famous Joshua Bloch, Mark Reihnhold and others on new features of the upcoming JDK release as well as intricacies of the Java programming language itself.
This year for the first time the scope was extended to include one whole track on NoSQL databases. The track was organised by Steven Noels. It featured fantastic presentations on HBase use cases, easily accessible introductions to the concepts and usage of Hadoop.
To me it was interesting to observe which talks people would go to. In contrast to many other conferences here the NoSQL/ cloud-computing presentations were less visited than I'd have expected. One reason might be the fact that especially on conference day two they had to compete with popular topics such as the Java puzzlers, Live Java posse and others. However when talking to other attendees their seemed to be a clear gap between the two communities caused probably by a mixture of

  • there being very different problems to be solved in the enterprise world vs. the free software, requirements and scalability driven NoSQL community. Although even comparably small companies (compared to the Googles and Yahoo!s of this world) in Germany are already facing scaling issues, these problems are not yet that pervasive in the Java community as a whole. To me this was rather important to learn, as coming from a Machine learning background, now working for a search provider and being involved with Mahout, Lucene and Hadoop scalability and a growth in data has always been one of the major drivers for any projects I have been working on so far.
  • Even when faced with growing amounts of data in the regular enterprise world developers seem to be faced with the problem of not being able to freely select the technologies to be used for implementing a project. In contrast to startups and lean software teams there still seem to be quite a few teams that are not only given what to implement but also how to implement the software unnecessarily restricting the tools to use to solve a given problem.

One final factor that drives developers adopting NoSQL and cloud computing technologies is the observation for the need to optimise the system as a whole – to think outside the box of fixed APIs and module development units. To that end the DevOps movement was especially interesting to me as only by getting the knowledge largely hidden in operations teams into development and mixing that with the skill of software developers can lead to truly elastic and adaptable systems.