javaone2007: JFX or rich clients revisited
Thursday 10 May 2007 @ 5:56 pm
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Sun likes to call them ‘integrated rich clients’, a nice buzz word for reinventing user experience. Yesterday I visited two rich client related sessions. One about GWT, wich was more or less a copy of last years session, and one about JavaFX (formerly known as F3, nowadays already abbreviated to the better sounding JFX). Chris Oliver amazed the audience with really stunning effects and smooth looking user interfaces: Definitely an Oehhh! and Aahh! session. It is too early to make up conclusions yet but it seems the Sun developers have gotten graphical interfaces, and especially the way an interface gets set-up to meet the design made by a professional design team, finally right. JFX introduces a new scripting languages, called JavaFX Script. Which is, when you ask me, a little bit redundant but, due to tongue slippery, I think the script part of it will disappear in normal human to human communication. (We aren’t calling java, JVM Script or are we?) But despite the name, the scripting language itself looks promising. It’s statically typed, which can be subject of religious language battles but that is out of the scope of this blog-entry, and it uses a declarative building styling to declare UI components. When compared to the XML variants like XUL, SVG but also Flex and Laszlo, a breeze to read. And when compared to regular Swing (or SWT!) probably a breeze to write also. In other words, refreshing.

So, should we all make the move and forget Ajax or Flash? Maybe, but maybe not. (GWT is still pretty cool technology and as far as I have seen it, it is the best possible solution for rich browser apps. For example take a look at how the guys from Google crack performance issues. Nuff said).There are still some irritating issues to overcome. First of all there is no out of the box data binging support (for example to call a RESTful service and bind the results to user interface components). But maybe more problematic is the deployment model. Which is not there! Yes, Applets or Webstart but both need a ridiculous huge download for the latest JRE release. Not really user friendly. I have to admit, Sun has announced to work on this problem and promised to come up with a solution as soon as possible but in the meantime it is missing. And a bad deployment model at the moment there is a lot of momentum is marketing wise not really what you call handy. Missed opportunity?? Anyway, JFX is right here right now so for me it’s playing time.

— By Okke van 't Verlaat   Comments (0)   PermaLink
javaone2007: just a meme
Wednesday 9 May 2007 @ 6:05 pm
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After visiting Neil Ford’s excellent and inspiring presentation about domain specific languages, I was wondering if a DSL is actually nothing but a kind of computer instruction slang?

— By Okke van 't Verlaat   Comments (0)   PermaLink
javaone2007: it seems the sun is shifting
Wednesday 9 May 2007 @ 6:03 pm
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JavaOne 2007 is only just one day on its way, the first couple of 81 hours have been past, and my maximum information observing level has been reached already: Too much to check out the coming weeks. Too many high impact announcements. Too many cool new technologies, too many new tools and too many new paradigm shifts.

Thou shall open up everthing you got, except for some key strategically important technologies, and thou shall spread the words to open up everything. Under the safe covers of being a community is more important than being a regular old company, open source is the new paradigm. Open opportunities as Sun is like to call it. Great move I think! And its paying off already. Except for the JDK, which is conceptually a big step to open up but practically nothing but a small give-away, goofy things are seing the light under Sun’s GPLv2 umbrella.

But Sun is making more, not unexpected but also not foreseen, movements. Where, in my very humble opinion, Sun was traditionally not very well doing in the area of user interaction (Does the term metal look and feel still rings a bell?), they seem to have been paying more attention and energy on this topic. Possibly driven by competition, Sun (just like Microsoft by the way) is following the vision of MacroMedia (indeed, not Adobe’s vision unless vision can be bought) and has been moving into the direction of rich internet applications (or integrated rich clients as they tend to call it). Form follows function has become JavaFX: A stunning way to re-implement applets. Hopefully marketing can handle it this time.

More news? Yep Real time java has finally been born so JSR-1 can be removed from the todo-list. Blu-Ray is currently hot topic. And Glassfish V3, the reference implementation of EE5, only needs a 100Kb bootstrap and starts up in less then half a second unless some serious applications have been deployed. (By the way, glassfish seems to have a pretty slick architecture for an application server and another by the way seems to be the question whether we want to use commercial available application servers from the old pre-ee5-era if this thing is really as good as the five minute demo has shown us.) Oh, and before I forget, everyone should sheck out NASA’s project World Wind, google earth as a swing widget. And in the tradition of the new openness completely free to abuse!

Finally, and this could be experienced during last years conference already, other languages than Java are not ‘wrong’ or ‘dirty’ anymore. Ruby has been adopted as a first class citizen of the virtual machine and the JRuby team has not been hired to implement a funny scripting language, but seems to be hired to jump on the bandwagon not as a an ignorant passenger but more as fully armed musketeers. It is very impressive to see how Sun is dealing with the shift from java to other languages. And it is also very impressive to see the progress that has been made in tool support. Last years netbeans hype was a bit overdone but this year there are enough reasons to promote the upcoming version 6. As far as I could see, changes are fair Netbeans will become the platform of choice to develop Ruby, and especially Rails, applications.

— By Okke van 't Verlaat   Comments (0)   PermaLink
javaone2007: coolest session title
Thursday 19 April 2007 @ 4:16 pm
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This years javaone conference is about to happen and since my conference pass has been ordered it is time to wrestle myself through the program in order to find the most optimal schedule in terms of quality and time. Meaning a lot of reading, shuffling, weighting and head-scrabbing. A process which probably will last untill the last session of the conference. But some sessions are a definitive certainty. And one of these sessions tagged whith the coolest session title of the conference:

Java™ Puzzlers, Episode VI: The Phantom-Reference Menace/Attack of the Clone/Revenge of the Shift

After last years ‘Tiger Traps’, changes are big this session will end up high in this years top-10!

— By Okke van 't Verlaat   Comments (0)   PermaLink
NLJUG Masters of Java 2006
Wednesday 29 November 2006 @ 2:33 pm
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Thursday November 23rd, 6:30 am. Eric Ettes and I are on our way to Rotterdam to compete in the “Masters of Java 2006” contest (MOJ) organized by the “Dutch Java User Group” (NLJUG). Because of the bad weather, and the thousands of MOJ spectators crowding the Dutch freeways ;-) , we arrive a few minutes after 10am. We missed the coffee and test round.

A short description of the environment we just entered: the contest is held at a games shop in the center of Rotterdam. One of the sponsors’ description: “MOJ, held at the GameSyndicate in Rotterdam. A place with an excellent hackery feel to it - and bad lighting”. The room is filled with computers, in some corners PS2’s, Xbox360’s or GameCubes can be found. A big screen displays the remaining time for the current assignment, along with a list of the competing teams. Also visible is which team is currently compiling or running unit-tests (accompanied with the green/red lights for succeeded and failed tests).

About ten minutes after acquiring a computer, the first round begins. An automated gong marks the start of the round, the assignment pops up on our screen. For convenience a paper version of the assignment is handed out to all teams. The first assignment is not too much of a hassle, same goes or assignment two. At least we’re not going home with zero points. After each assignment a graph is shown to display the points each team scored (total score including the last assignment). The faster you finish the more points you score. The difference between the teams is not big, however there are a few teams not finishing the first assignments in the available time (30 minutes per assignment). Not really noticeable in the score graph, maybe to ease the pain. A short chat with one of the contest organizers points out the assignments go from (relatively) easy to difficult. This is repeated after the lunch, so the first assignment after the lunch (six assignments for the entire day) will start relatively easy again.

We misjudge the third assignment, but we’re determined to make up for the loss after the lunch. We’re lucky because the forth assignment seems to use familiar techniques, we soon have an idea of what the solution must be. In our enthusiasm we miss a hint in the assignment. After fifteen minutes this appears to be crucial as some of the teams already submitted their solution. We didn’t even run a unit-test yet… we don’t finish the assignment in time, zero points :-( . I’ll leave the remaining two assignments out of the review, we didn’t score that well (read: zero points ;-) ).

This doesn’t really matter, we went for fun and fun we had. The atmosphere was good and the assignments were fun and challenging. After each assignment the solution was reviewed and the background was explained. Leading to “ah, of course!” reactions. To get an impression, the assignments of the 2004 and 2005 contests are available on http://mastersofjava.2en40.nl/Assignments.html. Together with the contest software (same URL) these assignments can be tried on your own computer.

Overall it was a pleasant, inspiring and most of all fun experience in an appropriate setting. Next year Eric and I will be present again, then for a higher end ranking. Maybe we’ll see you there.

External links:
http://www.nljug.org/pages/events/content/moj_2006/ - MOJ homepage
http://www.gamesyndicate.nl/ - The setting this all took place in (link: Foto albums). http://mastersofjava.2en40.nl/ - The competition software is available here, also available are the assignment of 2004 & 2005.

— By Mark van den Bergh   Comments (0)   PermaLink
JavaOne2006 To GWT or to JSF?
Saturday 20 May 2006 @ 2:15 am
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This years JavaOne was filled with JSF, Ajax and even more the combination of the two. On the Pavilion several commmercial vendors were selling their ajax enriched jsf components. The blueprint team showed us the petstore. Oracle showed us how to build custom ajax enabled jsf components. And so on.

In my previous post I noted the Google Web Toolkit hadn’t landed yet completely in my java wasted brain. After four days of conference my brain is still completely wasted with java (two very positive exceptions, I saw the Ruby on Rails framework running on a java VM using JRuby! and I saw some really Groovy things a java programmer can only dream about) but I found some spare time to play with google’s new toy. While the conference only had one presentation about GWT (compare it with all those ajax and jsf sessions) the rumours/facts (find out yourself) on the internet are spreading. And somehow nobody seems to write something really interesting about JSF.

Is there a reason. Yes ofcourse. First it is the hype. GWT is new so GWT should be cool! Second, al the Ajax/JSF things are actually well known already (otherwise it would be impossible to have such a huge coverage on the conference). But between the rumours/facts I could not find out when to use JSF and when to use GWT?

Using GWT you will run into two major drawbacks. The amount of javascript that need to be downloaded will increase (lineair?) with the complexity of the interface. The KitchenSink example application is relative simple but already needs a 100kb of (compiled/generated) code. The other drawback is that your UI is fully (and I really mean fully) decoupled from your server logic. It’s like a Swing or Flash app making RPC calls. And altough very beautiful (designwise) not always as handy and productive as wanted.

GWT also has a lot of advantages. And they are obvious. No more javascript hackery. No more browser problems. All is taken care of by the toolkit. Another major advantage will be the usage of bandwidth after the application has been loaded. It will be minimized to the necessary RPC calls in order to add business functionality to the application. Which at the end will increase user experience. Using this approach state can be managed on the client (and/or in the database). And finally, the support for browser history works wonderful well.

But the biggest advantage is the fact it is a one stop shop. And here the biggest disadvantage of JSF had been mentioned. JSF is just like GWT (and Echo2 and several others) a component oriented approach for building rich web applications but it will allow you to combine several techniques together. It gives you the possibility to mix javascript library x with library y. It’s like combining Swing and SWT on the desktop. Javascript libraries are becoming the assembly languages of the web. And combining assembly languages does not feel right. (By the way, using Tapestry or Wicket this same problem can occur)

So when to use JSF and when to use GWT? I can’t answer this question. When all those beautiful JSF components provided by one and the same component vendor are being used and nothing more (not even self written ones!) JSF still seems a good choice. But if you can accept the drawbacks of GWT, I probably would recommend to at least investigate the possibilities GWT is opening up. (Or take a serious look at Echo2!)

 

— By Okke van 't Verlaat   Comments (14)   PermaLink
JavaOne2006 Flabbergasted by the way Jetbrains does continuous integration
Wednesday 17 May 2006 @ 4:54 pm
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Yesterday I visited a session by Jetbrains Dmitry Jemerov about IntelliJs’ new product called teamServer (TS-5033 : IntelliJ IDEA: Integrated Team Environment) and I really was flabbergasted by the presented material. Everybody knows Continous Integration is a must have in your projects and everybody also knows Continuous Integration does not work or at least does not work the way we really want it to work. TeamServer might change this. They developed it to support their own development. In other words, the developed it from the perspective of the developer (they eat their own dogfood), not the perspective of a company whos only core activity is building A continuous integration product. And just as their famous IDE(A), this product is stuffed with a lot of intelligent features that make life as easy as possible. And these features are making the difference.

One of the most remarkable features is the way they treat the check-in process. Instead of just checking-in code into the underlaying revision system, the tool is performing a build and test cycle first. So only changes that pass this phase will be added to the shared code repository. It is impossible to break the build. (Question, how many times did you do a check out of the code base and figured out the build was broken and the person responsible for this has left the building?)

Other interesting features are the way Team Server integrates with your IDE. No more bloats of email messages you never are going to read but instead nice taskbar indicators and direct pointers from (your own, not someone else’s!) build problems to actual source code. As expected the integration works for their own IDE only but there are plans to make it available as Netbeans and Eclipse plugins.

Besides the continuous integration aspects, the tool is featuring collaboration between developers also. For example, It is possible to do a diff action between your code and your coworkers code who’s sitting at the other side of the room (or worse, at the other side of the world) without using cumbersome mechanisms like e-mail or even worse, check-in/check-out.

Of course I need the proof of the pudding first but I think its worth to take a look at the the Team Server early access program site and try it.

— By Okke van 't Verlaat   Comments (0)   PermaLink
JavaOne 2006 Backpacks everywhere (picture)
Wednesday 17 May 2006 @ 8:34 am
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The audiance, mention the backpacks

— By Okke van 't Verlaat   Comments (0)   PermaLink
JavaOne 2006 Netbeans netbeans netbeans
Tuesday 16 May 2006 @ 10:10 pm
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I’m currently standing behind a Sun terminal at the conference and due to the position one has to take to use the keyboard and see the screen, it is impossible to make this a lengthy entry describing everything I’ve seen and heard today.

The conference was opened by the General Session aka keynote of Sun themselves. And the message was pretty clear: Please join the JCP (we only have 1052 members) and please download and use Netbeans. Nothing more, nothing less except for some minor details like the birth of JEE 5 and the incredible impact it will have and the announcement that Java once will become really open source (quote : the question is not whether, but how). Openness matters but its clear Sun is still struggling with their other marketing exclamation: Compatibility matters.

About netbeans, two major statements were made. The first was coming from JBoss founding father Mark Fleury who declared that JBoss will support (and donate to?) the netbeans platform (Hey, is JBoss IDE not eclipse based?). The second was coming from Sun themselves declaring they will bring their Studio Creator to the open source community by donating it to Netbeans. It seems the IDE war has entered a new phase.

One other very small thing that caught my attention was about certification. Since we’re not talking J2EE anymore but JEE 5 (Still having problems pronouncing it fluently), we all need to recertificate to become JEE certified developers or architects. So for all who are planning to do their exams, please wait for the new certification program. And for those who already are certified, start reading books again!

— By Okke van 't Verlaat   Comments (0)   PermaLink
JavaOne 2006, The power of java (picture)
Monday 15 May 2006 @ 9:22 pm
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The power of java

— By Okke van 't Verlaat   Comments (1)   PermaLink
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