JFokus 2011 Day 1 wrap-up

Picking up on Fredrik's excellent write ups of JFokus (JFokus 2010, JFokus 2009) here comes my subjective impressions of the first day of JFokus 2011. Upfront, there is a reason that JFokus grows year by year.  It is a great conference and the makers really try to improve with each not JFokus version.

For the lazy readers, let's start with a simple 5 star grading system for some of the key aspects of the conference before diving into details:

Venue *****
Organisation *****
Food ***
Speakers ****
Overall ****

With this out of the way let's actually dive into details.
First of all congratulations to the venue. The Stockholm Waterfront is really a great venue for a conference like JFokus.

Regarding the general organisation one also can only show respect. Given the amount of people and the fact that this is the first JFokus in this venue, one can only say that the whole JFokus team is doning a great job. Thanks!

As you might now from previous blog post, food is a very important factor for me (generally and at a conference). Personally I found the lunch quite boreing and I really didn't like the fact that I get a plate, fork and knive, but nowhere to sit. I know this is quite a logistic problem for 1200 people, but I still believe there are better solutions, eg finger food. The food in the evening was for example much better and it was easy to eat.  Fika was also not so great and just black and hot does not make a good coffee ( btw I definitely don't expect latte art here). Call me a snob, but I think there is room for improvement.

But let's dive into the most important part, the presenters and their presentations, because really it is the combination of these two which make an outstanding talk. As summary,  all presentations I've seen were good. No really bad presentation or presenter. On the other hand, I also had no AWESOME moment either (maybe tomorrow!?)

Regarding the keynote What a crazy year it has been by Henrik Ståhl. It was a fair summary of what happened to Java during its first year under the shepardship of Oracle. Henrik acknowledged some of the mistakes Oracle has made and tried to give his interpretations of things. Unfortunately, some of the really interesting questions missed depth and I got the feeling that Henrik tried to put a lot of problems on our-days business politics. If this is really the underlying problem we are really living in a sad world. I really wouldn't like to have Henrik's jobs sitting between the chairs with Oracle the employer on one side and the Java community on the other. Good Luck, Henrik!
Overall Henrik's presentations was ok, but without much new information. A decent presentation performance. I am not convinced though whether it really had keynote potential. Btw, get this guy a Mac, he really wants one ;-)

Next up on my schedule was Eric Evans and Folding Togehter DDD & Agile. I really liked Eric's ideas and they reflect a lot of what I think about DDD and Agile. For me the key idea was that there was a point before Agile where all design was done upfront. This was wrong and partly triggered the Agile movement. Unfortunately, using Agile to the extreme can let the pendulum swing all the way to the other side where in the name of agility no design is done and you end up with hard to change software very quickly.  Eric's recommodations are to use concrete reference scenarios (DDD does not always have to be UML diagrams) to anchor abstract domain knowledge.  He also recommends an approach were you regularily go through design and prototype cycles (they can be very short) in order to stay on track and detect misconceptions in the design. For this purpose he introduces his Model Exploration Whirlpool.
Overall a good presentation and I think Eric made some very valuable observations. Personally I found his presentation style too calm. He hardly showed any emotion and/or enthusiasm. This is, however, needed to make a presentation really memorable.

Speaking about enthusiam. The price for the best presentation of the day goes for me to Emil Eifrem and his Overview of NOSQL talk, mainly because he showed this enthusiam I was missing in Eric's presentation, paired with great domain knowledge. Emil gave a great categorisation of the NoSQL space (Key-Value Stores, Graph DBs, Big Table, Document DBs) and he also explained the trends which made these technologies relevant (data size, conectedness, semistructure and achitecture). He finished his talk with a look into the future where he sees polygot persistence. Great talk!

Heinz Kabutz was next. I am a big fan of his Java Specialist newsletter and was looking forward to hear his presentation. The content of his presentation was not new for followers of his newsletter. Basically he was iterating over the 10 laws of concurrency which all can be found in the newsletters archive. From a presentation point of view I was not disappointed. Heinz is a really good presenter. The talk itself also offered probably the most valuable information of the day, but somehow the presentation style felt a little canned (maybe the slides could need some touch up as well). Nevertheless, great presentation.

Last but not least, there was Nick Sieger with his JRuby + Rails talk. I felt again some special connection shining through, but really did not get fully engaged. This might have been due to the fact that it was so late in the day. The first part of the presentation was the standard Ruby/Rails fair I've heard many times. Luckily later on things turned around a little and I made some notes about tools and things I want to check out at some stage, eg bundle or warbler. Cool stuff.

A successful day. Well done.