Because today's software development climate is so fiercely competitive,
only those developers, architects, and technical managers who meet the needs
of their clients and embrace change can hope to survive. The "No Fluff, Just
Stuff" (NFJS) conference series (www.nofluffjuststuff.com) covers the latest
in industry developments and best practices with cutting-edge sessions and
panel discussions on Java/J2EE, XML, open source, and agile methodologies.
In this review, I discuss my experiences at the recent Spring 2003 Rocky
Mountain Software Symposium (RMSS), held from Friday, May 16, through
Sunday, May 18, in Denver.
The speaker list for the Spring 2003 RMSS reads like a "who's who" in
the Java/J2EE/open source community. For the complete lineup, please visit
www.nofluffjuststuff.com/2003-05-denver/speakers.jsp. I attended sessions given by: Sue Spielman: Author of The Struts Framework: Practical Guide for Programmers and the forthcoming JSTL: Practical Guide for JSP Programmers
James Duncan Davidson: Creator of Jakarta Tomcat and Apache Ant
Bruce Tate: Author of Bitter Java and lead author of Bitter EJB
Dave Thomas: Author of The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master
Erik Hatcher: Author of Java Development with Ant
Maciej Zawadzki: Creator of the AntHill build management server and author of Urbancode's EJB Benchmark
Ted Neward: Author of Server-Based Java Programming and the forthcoming Effective Enterprise Java
Glenn Vanderburg: Principal with Delphi Consultants
One of the highlights of the conference was the keynote "Introduction
to Pragmatic Programming" by Dave Thomas. This session showed the
inefficiencies in today's software development practices and what could be
done about them. We experience the same problems today that we had back in
the 1970s and '80s. Projects are still late, underfeatured, over budget, and
full of bugs. Dave cited an NIST study that showed how the U.S. wastes $60
billion each year on buggy software. Since there are about 34 million
developers in this country, each developer costs the U.S. economy roughly
$20K each year ouch!
Pragmatic programming fits somewhere between methodologies and
technology-specific skills. It is not a methodology; it's about the
individuals and teams who produce software. Pragmatic programming breaks
down into three practice areas: individual, technical, and team.
The most distinctive feature was the section on individual practices: Learn continuously: Read books, go to conferences, and interact with other developers at user groups.
Fix broken windows: Fix problems as soon as they occur to keep them from growing larger.
The speakers were personable and helpful. After presenting on "Effective
Enterprise Java: Systems," Ted Neward spent a long time with me discussing
ClassLoaders, their relationship to the JVM, and how this relates to
Singletons in a J2EE environment. In between sessions, Sue Spielman spoke
with me about the ups and downs of writing a technical book, and compared
being a solo author to working with other authors. During breakfast, Bruce
Tate gave me ideas on how to become more marketable in today's challenging
IT economy. After one of his JAAS presentations, Maciej Zawadzki provided
the inside scoop on Urbancode's EJB Benchmark he created a series of
benchmarks to prove to his clients that Entity EJBs were needlessly slow,
and that alternate solutions would perform and scale better.
Conclusion They gained valuable insights from the sessions that they could apply
to their daily work.
Their time wasn't wasted with vendor product demos.
They enjoyed interacting with recognized industry experts.
The conference schedule over the weekend didn't interrupt their
It was less expensive and easier to attend a local conference than
having to travel.
The conference was a good value for the price.
The conference CD contained all the presentations.
When I asked attendees for their opinions of the conference, the
Since I learned so much in just one weekend, I would recommend an NFJS
conference to any developer, architect, or technical manager looking to keep
up with the latest trends and improve their skills. I plan to attend this
conference when it returns to Denver in the fall because the NFJS symposium
series truly lives up to its billing "No Fluff, Just Stuff."
About The Author
Tom Marrs is the principal/senior software architect at Distributed
Computing Solutions, Inc., based in Denver. His focus is on building J2EE
system architectures and mentoring developers in J2EE, OO, XML, and Web
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