The Caboteria / Tech Web / ServerSideSymposium2003 (30 Jun 2003, TobyCabot)
My company (Riverton) sent me to the 2003 Server Side Symposium in Wakefield, MA on the last weekend in June. It was scheduled for Friday-Sunday but I went Friday and it was weak so I didn't go Saturday or Sunday. Here are a few notes:

Keynote

Friday morning's keynote was billed as something like "j2ee future directions" or "ejb future directions" or something like that. It ended up being a product demo for Oracle JDeveloper. God, it was boring! A big ballroom packed to the gills while some nerd from Oracle dragged and dropped little boxes around on a projection display that nobody in the back half of the room could read. It seemed that the "future" part had to do with some part of JDeveloper that Oracle was trying to ram through the JCP. It had something to do with storing metadata about the model part of MVC in XML files (which seems to be at odds with recent Sun direction about storing it in code). In any case it appeared to allow you to do more stuff in JDeveloper than you used to, or something like that. In any case it wasn't anything about the future direction of EJB, and it wasn't even a good product demo.

Bad start to the day. Grade: D

Work Flow

After the keynote you had a choice of seminars and I was curious about workflow so I went to one that was an intro to the topic. It wasn't bad, but it didn't seem as if the presenter really knew much about the topic. He gave a few slides and then launched into a demo of some proprietary program called M7 that wasn't really a workflow package (application assembler maybe) but did some workflow. Or something. The product never really did anything, I think that we were looking at the developer front end which had flowcharts but I don't think that we saw the run-time. At one point the presenter muttered something about how something that was supposed to refresh wasn't refreshing, and I don't know if it ever refreshed or not.

The guy was trying hard and did have a couple of slides with a survey that included some open source products, but didn't seem to include the big traditional workflow engines like IBM MQ series. Grade: C+

OR Mapping

I really should have known better, but for some reason I went to another Oracle presentation. Stupid, stupid, stupid. What purported to be a "review" of OR mapping issues was a thinly-veiled Toplink feature list. The guy that gave the talk was very good, very comfortable in front of an audience, but he was selling his product rather than teaching. The "money shot" came (no pun intended wink at the end of the talk when one of the audience said in an ironic tone of voice "gee, is there any product that has all of these features" and the presenter alt-tabbed to his desktop wallpaper which was a photo of his license plate which read "TOPLINK".

This guy gets a better mark than the keynote guy because he was a good speaker, but his talk was information-free. Grade: C-

Bitter EJB

This guy didn't work for Oracle or the Middleware Company so I decided to give him a chance. It was a pretty good presentation overall, but not great. The gist of it was that session EJB is OK and entity EJB sucks, which is hardly a revelation. His argument seemed to revolve around the fact that making an EJB call is expensive, which falls into the "well, duh" category as far as I'm concerned. The guy was a reasonable speaker but needed to stop ending sentences with "right?" even when he wasn't asking a question. He did get good marks for suggesting alternatives to Entity EJB; one called "Hibernate" actually looks pretty sharp.

Grade: B-

What's New in J2EE 1.4

This was a survey talk given by the guy that organized the conference. It would have been a good talk if he hadn't started by saying "this talk is mostly the same stuff that's on my website." Not a smart thing to say to a room full of people that have paid to hear you give the talk. But it was mostly uphill from there, and it looks as if J2EE 1.4 will be a useful enhancement over 1.3.

Grade: B-

Buzzword Alert!

The new buzzword at this conference (new to me, anyway) was POJO meaning "Plain Old Java Objects". It was usually used as an alternative to mechanisms such as JDO or Entity EJB's.

Conclusion

I'm very glad that this conference was local, I would have been pissed off if I had flown somewhere and given up a weekend for this fluff.

-- TobyCabot - 30 Jun 2003

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