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The News from JAOO

Addison-Wesley editor Greg Doench shares his observations and insights about the future of object oriented programming based on his recent trip to the JAOO conference in Denmark.
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See the JAOO best seller list.

What do Soren Kierkegaard, Bjarne Stroustrup and JAOO have in common? Very little actually, but all three were born in Denmark. Other than that, Kierkegaard argued that existence cannot be explained objectively, Stroustroup posited that programming languages should be object-oriented and JAOO proved that developers will travel to Aarhus in search of serious speakers and a relaxed atmosphere.

I recently ventured to Denmark to attend the 10th Annual JAOO Conference. Although my day job primarily involves publishing the best books and digital learning in the area of all things Java, I found myself tempted to squeeze in as many of the sessions as possible. Attempting to jump between the Concurrency track, the Modeling and Designing track, the SOA track and the Emerging Web Technologies Track reinforced the obvious limitations of human beings when it comes to multitasking. As a result, I missed two great sessions that generated a lot of hallway buzz—Joe Duffy’s Concurrency and the Composition of Frameworks talk and Eric Evans’ Domain Driven Design two-part presentation.

After learning to accept my limitations, I decided to focus on SOA. It was a good decision. Gregor Hohpe’s SOA—What’s Left to Say? track got off to a lively start with Steve Vinoski’s appropriately dynamic look at "Applying Dynamic Languages to SOA." Steve is a tough act to follow, but Ivo Totev and Beat Schwegler didn’t disappoint the crowd. The afternoon wrapped up with Gregor’s own “Conversations between Loosely Coupled Services“ presentation, which I’ve already discovered has applications in many domains. Capped off by a spirited panel discussion, this track did indeed leave me thinking there’s “quite a lot to say,” which suggests there’ll soon be a second (or third or fourth) wave of SOA books coming to a bookstore near you.

The Domain Specific Languages presentations on Tuesday were especially solid—even without Martin Fowler who was unable to attend this year. Certainly, the Leffe-inspired, after-hours conversations I overhead reinforced my sense that interest in DSLs is growing and I suspect this track will be even bigger next year.

Not surprisingly the Java Rich Client Development track drew enthusiastic crowds and the hordes of hungry developers weren’t disappointed. Jeff McAffer’s session on the Eclipse Rich Client platform apparently inspired enough attendees to make his book of the same name the #3 seller at the conference bookshop. But of course, the growing impact of AJAX was obvious from the overflow crowds at Ed Burns’ Enterprise Grade AJAX with JSF session and the crowds only got bigger for Bruce Johnson’s Google Web Toolkit (GWT) presentation. It was a SRO crowd, but fortunately I was able to grab one of the last seats and walked away even more convinced that the folks at Google have produced another cool technology that makes the incredibly complex a lot simpler—and as Bruce said, “It just works.” My impressions were quickly reinforced by other attendees, including Beat Schwegler of Microsoft who blogged within hours about Bruce’s great session. My JAOO prediction is that GWT will get even bigger in 2007.

Veterans of the JAOO conference will confirm that they are annually treated to a smorgasbord of technical presentations by a world class group of speakers. This year was no different. Well, if possible, JAOO was even better this year. Where else could you attend presentations on Fortress by Guy Steele, on Intentional Software by Charles Simonyi and “Methodologies as Swimsuits” by Alistair Cockburn. And then for dessert enjoy a fascinating look back at 40 years of programming history by Dave Thomas?

In short, JAOO is like a fabulous restaurant you want to rave about, but fear will be overrun if everybody else finds out about it. I highly recommend it, but don’t tell anybody else. Any serious developer who can convince their boss (pointy-haired or well-coiffed) to send them should make the trip. JAOO is a 5 Star technical conference that gets better every year and since our books dominated the best seller list, I might even be able to convince my boss to send me back to JAOO in 2007..

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