At least the comedy worked …

(via my blog)

The “opening act” for this morning’s general session was Don McMillan, a self-described “Engineer/Comedian” who started things off with an insightful, funny, and wonderfully geeky act. (I especially liked his necktie with the periodic table of the elements … I need to get one for my friend Greg Vaughn, who sometimes wears a periodic table t-shirtcomplete with radioactive elements that glow in the dark.)

Then came the “serious” segments, complete with demos. That’s when the fun really started. Unintentional comedy is nearly always better than the planned kind.

Three demostwo by Sun, one by SAPwent awry in one way or another. And of course, speakers at events like this never obey the first law of demos (Never say anything more optimistic than “Watch this!”). The unfortunate SAP developer got flustered and never actually pulled his demo off, but the guy with Sun’s “Project Rave” did a fantastic job under pressure, quickly recoding the entire demo application as everyone watched. And it was lots of fun to see Rich Green and another presenter both unable to figure out how to work one of the projectors, only to have the programmer onstage lean across them, touch a button, and bring everything into instant focus.

I know that’s not how things were planned, but it was very entertaining, and it gave us all a chance to root for the underappreciated heroes of such events: the lowly programmers, brought onstage to run the demos while the speaking roles go to someone else.

Bitter EJB

(via my blog)

This is a long blog entry … you have been warned.

Big conferences like JavaOne are always accompanied by the introduction of new books. This time’s no exception.

I stopped by the JDOCentral booth to visit my friend Patrick Linskey of SolarMetric, and he surprised me with a free copy of Bitter EJB, the new book he wrote with Bruce Tate, Mike Clark, and Bob Lee. I’m very pleased to have it, because early glimpses of some chapters have been posted on The Server Side, and it looks even better than Bruce’s original Bitter Java.

With apologies to Patrick, the first chapter I turned to was Mike Clark’s “Bitter Tunes,” about performance tuning for EJBs. Mike and I have an interesting history. Last year I gave a talk at JavaOne called “Stalking Your Shadow: Adventures in Garbage Collection Optimization,” and about two months later I gave the same talk at a No Fluff, Just Stuff symposium in Dallas. The talk may sound extremely technical and arcane, but it’s actually a “stealth agile” talk, in which I use the complexity of GC interaction and optimization to advocate a tightly iterative approach to optimizationavoiding both premature and “way too late” optimization by developing iteratively and building performance testing into your development process.

In the talk, I recommend using a package called JUnitPerf to automate performance testing and integrate it into your build and test process. In Dallas, I got to that slide and heard “Thanks! I’ll pay you later” from the back of the room. That’s how I met Mike Clark, the author of JUnitPerf. And I’m glad I did, because he’s one of my favorite folks in the industry.

Mike and I independently began delivering the same message: although the hazards of premature optimization are well known, it’s also possibleeasy, in factto wait too long, and only learn about performance issues at a stage when they’re so deeply embedded in your architecture that it’s all but impossible to eliminate them. JUnitPerf is designed to help with that, making automated performance testing an easy and repeatable task, so that you can find performance problems as soon as they appear and deal with them before it’s too late.

The first antipattern in Mike’s “Bitter Tunes” chapter is “Premature Optimization” (and rightly so, because many developers still need to hear that message). But the solution to premature optimization isn’t to just wait ‘til the end of the project; it’s to wait until you see real performance problems, and then attack them as soon as possible. So the second of Mike’s antipatterns is “Performance Afterthoughts,” and the solution is “Plan Early and Often” (a title I really like). Mike’s advice applies not just to EJB projects, but to all software projects.

I’ve focused here on one chapter of Bitter EJB, but from what I’ve seen, the rest of the book is just as great, and our industry has needed a book like this for quite a while now. You owe it to yourself to buy a copy.

One Big Happy Family

(via my blog)

I remember being at JavaOne in 1999 (I think) when I first heard the terms “J2SE”, “J2EE”, and “J2ME”. I understood the reasoning for such a move, but at the same time I hoped they wouldn’t go too far with the distinction.

It was both amusing and refreshing to hear Jonathan Schwartz acknowledge in this morning’s keynote that Sun has been guilty of pushing multiple, separate platforms rather than emphasizing Java as a single platform. He promised that they would do better.

Of course, they aren’t in a full retreat from the multiple editions, and such a retreat wouldn’t make sense anyway. There are real distinctions between those environments, and the facilities available on them need to reflect that. But I do hope they spend more time focusing on what all the editions have in common.

Unfortunately, for those of us who like to stay informed about what’s coming in future releases, it’s necessary to pick an edition. This afternoon at 3:30, the “Overview and Roadmap” sessions for J2SE and J2EE are scheduled opposite one another.

Long overdue …

Sun’s finally ready to really support a free and open community of Java developers in a real way (or so it seems). Check out

Overheard at work today …

“Oh. That’s not your baby … that’s the Stevie Ray Vaughan boxed set.”

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