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If You're Going to San Francisco…, by Alan Williamson

Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair...as the classic Scott McKenzie song advised. What sound advice that is since last month thousands of Java developers made the annual pilgrimage to JavaOne at the Moscone Center. We were there, the JDJ crew, covering the event, talking to all who would listen, and listening to all those who spoke (flip on through this issue and you'll find the JavaOne show report from Ajit Sagar).

Now you'd be forgiven for believing that the whole show was devoted to Web Services, but I have to report that this wasn't the case. Sure the topic of Web Services came up many times, along with the whole .NET versus Java debate. But on the whole, the topic of conversation was much broader than that, encompassing many of the Web Services ideals. I think this was mainly due to the fact that JavaOne is so developer-focused; in many respects, it's a bit like preaching to the choir. We know all about open standards and the importance of not closing off any future possibilities.

I spoke to a lot of the application vendors and listened intently to their findings and what their clients were asking for. I was told that many of their clients are still using JSP and servlets and haven't yet discovered the true power of EJBs. I quizzed them as to why this may be the case and the answers that came back were varied, ranging from "lack of education" to "perceived to be complicated." This on the whole surprised me, as I had always presumed that if you purchase an application server, you're going to be doing more than just servlets/JSP. I wonder then how many companies would have saved themselves a small fortune by opting for something more along the lines of ServletExec or Apache Tomcat/JServ.

As if to support this, I discovered many companies touting JSP-related products. Many more than there were last year. There were tools to convert Visual Basic programs to JSP, JSP development environments, JSP reporting tools, JSP plug-ins, the list goes on. I guess this is validation of a technology, when an entire industry spawns up to support it. I'm just surprised at the number of JSP-related activities compared to EJB offerings. Is the world going JSP mad? Not if you read Jon Stevens feature this month on some of the idiosyncrasies of JSP. It was definitely an eye-opener for me.

Another great buzz around the floor was that of J2ME and the world that's beginning to open up for us there. I was introduced to a plethora of products that were designed to allow designers and developers to easily utilize this new, emerging platform. If only half of what I saw makes it to mass market, we're in for some beautiful applications. I'm not too sure though whether society as a whole is ready for J2ME and its implications. I've seen firsthand the stresses that carrying an always-connected device (Blackberry, for example) can impose on a person, and this is just for e-mail applications. It's just the tip of the iceberg; the best is still to come.

That said, when arranging to meet people, it was such a novelty to e-mail people as opposed to ringing their cell numbers. E-mailing people while on the move is definitely a useful tool, but something I think we need to be careful with. Where up till now we opted into the worldwide network of communications, in the future, we'll have to consciously opt out of the network. This is a major social shift and one that I'm sure will cause many a sleepless night.

Let me thank all those who stopped by and said hello. It was good to meet you and I look forward to continuing to serve you.

Author Bio
Alan Williamson is editor-in-chief of Java Developer's Journal. In his spare time he holds the post of chief technical officer at n-ary (consulting) Ltd, one of the first companies in the UK to specialize in Java at the server side. Reach him at [email protected] (www.n-ary.com) and rumor has it he welcomes all suggestions and comments! [email protected]

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