Ola Bini is a Swedish developer working for ThoughtWorks. His daily job includes working on JRuby, starting up a Swedish ThoughtWorks office and mucking around with Java and Ruby. In his spare time he spends most time on his language Ioke, working on one of several other open source projects or reading science fiction. Ola has presented at numerous conferences, such as JavaOne, Javapolis, JAOO, RailsConf, TheServerSide Java Symposium and more. He is the author of APress book Practical JRuby on Rails Ola is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 45 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

TheServerSide Java Symposium Europe is Over

06.26.2008
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Well, I'm home from Prague, from another edition of TheServerSide Java Symposium. This year was definitely a few notches up from last year in Barcelona in my opinion. And being in beautiful Prague didn't really cause any trouble either. =)

I landed on Tuesday, and worked quite heavily on my talks. Due to the ThoughtWorks AwayDay I was really out in the last second with my two slide decks. But I still got to see parts of the city in the evening. Very nice.

I managed to sleep over the opening keynote, but dragged myself down to the main room to watch the session on Spring Dynamic Modules. This ended up being more about OSGi style things than really dynamic things, so I felt a bit cheated, and kept on working on my slides instead. Before lunch I sat in on Alex Popescu's talk about scripting databases with Groovy. Over all a very good overview of the database landscape from a Groovy point of view, including just using the language to make the JDBC API's more flexible, building a builder style DSL for working with SQL, to the full blown GORM framework. All in all quite nice. But the funniest part was definitely peoples reaction to the SQL DSL, where most in the room preferred the real SQL to the Groovy version.

After lunch I had planned to see the session that compared different dependency injection frameworks, but the speaker never showed up, so I found myself listening to info about JSR-275, that provides support for units in a monetary system. Quite useful if you're working in that domain, but at the same time it felt like this would look so much cleaner in Ruby. Of course, that's how I react to most Java code nowadays.

Holly Cummins gave a very good talk about Java Performance Tooling. Of course it was coming with a slight IBM slant, but that's fair. The tools built around their JVM is actually really good for identifying several kinds of performance problems. So I'm actually in a mind to try JRuby on the IBM JVM and see if we can glean some more interesting information from that.

Geert gave his Terracotta talk about JVM clustering, and it's really interesting if you haven't seen it before. In this case I took the opportunity to listen while working on my slides.

And that was the end of day one.

Day two I was a good boy and was actually up in time for the keynote. This might have something to do with the fact that it was Neal Ford giving it, and he talked about Language-Oriented Programming. This is one of my favorite topics, and I'd only seen his slides to this talk before, not heard him give it. If you've been following the discussions about polyglot programming, the content made lots of sense. If you don't believe in polyglot programming, you might have been convinced.

After the keynote, it was time for breakfast, so I didn't see the sessions in that slot. After breakfast I sat in on Guillaume's Groovy in the Enterprise: Case Studies. While the presentation were good, he spent more than half of it just giving an introduction to Groovy. I'm not one to throw stones in glass houses, though, so I have to admit that this is something I can be found guilty of too. I'm trying to improve on this though. It makes a disservice to the audience - if they have to sit through the same kind of intro they might already have seen to get to the actual meat. That's one of the reasons I tried to minimize introductionary material in my testing session.

It was also in this session that a slide with the words "Groovy is the fastest dynamic language on the JVM" showed up. That's based only on the Alioth benchmarks, and it doesn't actually matter if it's true or not. It's a disservice to the audience. Especially in this case where even if Groovy actually on average is faster than JRuby, we are talking maximum 1-2% in average. The speed differences aren't really why you would be interested in using such a language, and in my opinion Groovy has got lots of other interesting features you can use to sell and market it. In summary, it felt a bit unnecessary.

Directly after that session, me, Ted Neward, and Guillaume was featured in a panel on the languages of the next generation. Eugene Ciurana who was supposed to moderate didn't really show up, so John Davies and Kirk Pepperdine had to jump in instead. It ended up being quite fun, but no real heat in the discussion. In something like this, I think it would be useful to have someone with different views to spice it up. Me, Ted and Guillaume just agree about these things way too much. But we got some nice Czeckian vodka. That was good. =)

After lunch I spent more time prepping my talk, and then it was finally time to give it. This was the JRuby on Rails introduction, and it ended up being quite nice. I had a good turn-up, and interestingly enough, many in the audience had actually tried Ruby already.

After my session was up, I could relax, so I went to Kirks talk about Concurrency and High Performance, which included many things to think about while working on the performance of an enterprise scale application. Very useful material.

Finally, at the end of the day it was time for the fireside chats, which is basically another word for BOFs. I sat in on the Zero Turnaround in Java Development session, which ended up not being as much discussion as I had expected, and more talking about the three principals different approachs (RIFE, Grails and JavaRebel).

The Fireside Performance Clinic was good fun, and some useful material. In particular, knowing whether JRuby startup time is CPU or IO bound is something I have never thought about, and might yield some interesting insights.

Day three felt a bit slower, as the last day usually does. The first session for me was Ted's Scala talk. I've seen it a few times before, but the most interesting part is actually the audience questions. As usual I wasn't disappointed. And Ted did his regular thing and weaved me into the examples. One of the more funny bits were when he was explaining the differences between var and val in Scala, and he decided that it might be good to be able to switch my surname. Then came the killer, where he said something like this: "well, and you might want to change the surname of Ola. Since Ola was just married, congratulations by the way, and he's from Sweden where the husband generally takes the surname of the wife, so we need to change his surname". At that point I had a hard time keeping it together.

The session on what's new and exciting in JPA 2 ended up not exciting me at all, so frankly I don't remember anything at all about that. I have vague blurry images of many at-signs.

Shashank Tiwari gave a presentation on how to choose your web framework, and this generated some discussion that were quite interesting. At this point I still wasn't finished with the examples for my testing session though, so I had to work on them. And I finally managed to finish it. Because lo, at that time I did the presentation on testing with JRuby. I spent some time on the different Ruby testing frameworks, first showing off how you can test Ruby code with them. Then I switched the model to a Java class, and used basically the same tests again. The cutest example is probably my story about a Stack. Not a literary master piece, but it's still prose.

People seemed to like the session and get something out of it, and that feels great since this was the first time I showed JtestR to a larger group of people. My mocking domain consisting of Primates, Food and Factories also seemed to go home. I got the expected laughs at the source code line where a Chimpanzee tries to eat Tuna and "throw new Up();".

Typesafe Embedded Java DSLs basically talked about how you can use the standard generic builder patterns to create DSLs that your IDE can help you quite much with. Sadly, my computer decided to give me a heart attach during this presentation, so I had to run out and give it CPR instead of sitting in on the rest of the session.

And that was TSSJS-E. For me, the first day was quite weak, but the content of the other two days were definitely extremely good. I can recommend it to anyone next year.
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