Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tales from the Serverside Prague - Day I

Day one at the server-side Java Symposium in Prague; but the fun started last night when Kirk Pepperdine smacked me for suggesting that the agenda was very like last year. Last year in Barcleona was all about caching technologies; this year the focus is on dynamic languages: jRuby, Groovy and Scala are all on the agenda.

Stephan Janssen kicked off the day's proceedings with a really good keynote on the landscape of technologies for developing rich internet applications, including DHTML, Google Web Toolkit, Flex/Air & JavaFX. I think what was most impressive is that he showed how the web-site (an educational web-site for posting up tech talks including audio, video and slides) has been built using all four (five, if you include this Silverlight version). Kudos to Stephan: I've always felt that when you apply a number of techhnologies to the same problem you get a really good picture of which works best. The message? DHTML was difficult. GWT was great, but needed one or two tickles to support Internet Explorer. Flex/Air was great, but you have two different development streams for your online & offline application code. Finally, JavaFX is very promising, but adoption may be hindered by the fact that the nice guys at Sun haven't got a version of JavaFX for Apple Mac yet.

Costin Leau from SpringSource gave an in-depth view of how Spring Dynamic Modules supports OSGi development and deployment. Benefits? Better modulatory, versioning of artifacts and operations control. I look forward to seeing how the new SpringSources Application Platform (based on Tomcat, OSGi and Spring) gets on. Hmmm. Am I the only on that's shocked though that after more than 12 years of Java, we're still coming up with new ways to prevent class loading problems?

GigaSpaces Nati Shalom's session was notable in that he discussed that business drivers behind the need of scalable systems: the number of financial transactions, data, and users is constantly growing. Further, the number of traffice spikes (overload situations that can bring down your business is growing). The challenge is to scale up cost-effectively while not sacrificing reliability and performance. Over-provisioning is one expensive way of catering for peak traffic, but has lead to average industry server utilization rates of 15-20%.

Michael Keith from Oracle presented on SOA using Service Component Architecture (SCA). SCA is all very reasonable and sensible, but I'm not convinced that it's something that developers can get really excited about.

Mike Aizatsky from Google's presentation on synchronization models for multi-threaded applications was a gem, where he described nine models including the unexpected "No Multithreading" threading model. His advice: pick the simplest model, don't over-engineer your solution. I really enjoyed this talk and got a lot out of it. On the way out of Mike's talk I caught the end of Holly Cummin's presentation on java performance tuning & contented(!) locks; it's a pity these two sessions were on the same time, as they would have really complemented each other.

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