Last month when I sat down to write this editorial I had the good fortune to be staring out at the Golden Gate Bridge. Sadly, this month the view isn't quite as romantic; I'm sitting approximately 12 inches away from an elderly lady who has decided to push her seat back, reducing my air space by what seems a factor of 10. Yup, I'm on a plane heading for SYS-CON HQ to begin the layout for the JavaOne issue of JDJ.
Since taking on this prestigious role, my understanding of the publishing world has jumped up a huge number of levels. It's a wonderful road to be traveling, and, as I busily scribble in my notebook, it's quite a responsibility that - if I were to sit and think about it - would keep me up at night.
Think about it. I and the JDJ team here have to prepare content for you that not only will educate but hopefully entertain. It's quite a task. Being a hard-core Java developer myself, I know how picky you are and what your attention to detail is like.
In fact, just yesterday my upcoming keynote at a Java conference in London was put on hold. The reason? The organizers got word there would be a major anticapitalist demonstration on the same day and they feared for our safety. When you hear it the first time it's quite funny, but when you give it a little more thought it's quite sobering to think you're involved in an event people feel strongly enough to actually picket. Kinda throws the notion that computers and the software we're all involved with are for the greater good. Or at least that's the dream I'm hanging - no, clinging - on to.
The hippy in me (or as close as a '70s/'80s child can get to being a hippy) thinks there isn't enough love in this world and all we need to do is just give a little hug to our neighbors to let them know we care. Wouldn't the world be a nicer place to live?
For me, I feel this whole Web Services revolution is the computer industry's hug to one another. At last vendors are waking up to the fact that there are solutions out there other than their own.
And here's the news flash: not all clients buy a single-vendor solution. Instead, it'll be a hodgepodge of solutions that claim they all talk to one another, but in reality will really sing only after thousands of dollars have been spent on consultants to get it working.
Web Services is the initiative to attempt to get all these solutions talking to one another without the extra overhead of the consultants. Wonderful goal, but I can't see it working quite as well in reality as the marketing/PR people are prophesying. "But it's just using Java and XML as the core," they say. So? What does that solve? My mother and I both speak English but, bless her, I doubt she'll ever understand what it is I do.
I support the notion of Web Services and I'm keeping my ear to the ground to see what's really going on. There's a lot of announcements in this area at the moment and it's quite daunting trying to keep up with it. Well, not only will we feature the odd Web Services piece, we're proud to announce that next month SYS-CON Media will launch a new title, Web Services Journal, that will keep you up to date on this new arena. Look for it inside JDJ at JavaOne.
As you know, last month I was in San Francisco doing a tour of duty. I met a lot of people and did a lot of listening. I wanted to gauge the mood of the place, especially now that the bottom has most definitely fallen out of the dot-com market. Should we be worried or not? Well, I'm happy to report that the technical roles still need to be filled with skilled engineers. Although not as plentiful as they used to be - and merely turning up for the interview no longer serves you the job - on the whole, as one highly respected engineer put it, Silicon Valley is finally coming back down to earth. And what happens in the Valley generates ripples through to the rest of us.
So don't panic.
Alan Williamson holds the reins at n-ary (consulting) Ltd,
one of the first companies in the UK to specialize in Java at the server side. He can be contacted at [email protected]