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JavaOne 2009 – JavaFX, Microsoft, and People's Mood


I’m a sentimental guy, and that’s why I just about killed myself to go to JavaOne this year after a 30 hour plane ride from Bangkok and half a week in lovely Orlando at RS(D)C. As I told people, “what if it’s the last JavaOne?! I gotta be there!” I had to miss the more dramatic parts – the first keynote with the Schwartz->Elision handoff and the bizarre suggestion of porting OpenOffice to JavaFX. Despite that, it was worth going to, as it’s been each time I’ve gone. There’s certain set of folks I tend to catch up with each year at JavaOne – a sort of drinking club, really – and that didn’t fail despite my curtailed time there.

Most of my impressions of “the important stuff,” then are second hand, but that’s the kind of lissome accounting us analysts get all giddy over. My esteemed colleagues Stephen and James were there the first part of the week and tended to the real work of talking at Community Day and hosting several nights at the House of Shields.


Each person I talked to was taken aback by Larry Elision’s glowing words about JavaFX: saying on stage that he was encouraging the OpenOffice crew to re-write the UI in JavaFX. The previous, best-guess consensus among folks – myself included, put forth in my own weaselly oblique way – was that JavaFX would be tanked in a Snorkle world. James’ comments on Oracle and JavaFX summarize the most coherent explanations of Larry’s comments and (for the optimistic among us, we’d hope) Oracle’s desires for JavaFX. Put in my words, they go like this:

Oracle has a bad reputation when it comes to UIs. Rather than be beholden to Adobe, Microsoft, or Google/Mozilla/HTML5/Ajax, JavaFX could give Oracle its own UI technology. The crux of this thinking is the elder company modus operandi of owning The Entire Stack, which tends to bemuse younger members of the software business. (See last week’s RIA Weekly for more commentary.)

As for the OpenOffice comment, no one’s really sure what that was all about. The effort to re-write the front-end for OpenOffice seems of questionable value. Then again, as a couple red-eyed, industry insiders would quickly suggest to me, billionaires have the resources to poke sticks in the Microsoft office pipelines, and that might be some kind of lance. Though, with the poor reputation that OpenOffice has among the muttering class, there’s a lot of brand-reworking you’d have to do as well.

Web UI Landscape

Clearly, the attention from their future over-lord and the numbers of sessions in the agenda must have made the JavaFX team the most giddy of all Sun folks at JavaOne. That said, Stephen’s observation about Oracle not being consumer oriented at all is worth squaring all this with:

Does Oracle want to become, like Microsoft, a firm that tries to play in both the consumer and enterprise worlds? Does it intend to compete with Flash and Silverlight for consumer hearts and minds? It’s too early to say, but it’s not too early to observe that few if any companies pull that off successfully. The DNA for consumer and enterprise vendors seems to some extent to be mutually exclusive, hence IBM’s inability or unwillingness to muster a consumer story [indeed! to sell it off! -Coté], and Apple’s reluctance to ride its desktop momentum into the enterprise.

In the latter part of the week when Apple was festooning it’s WWDC decals on Moscone West, I couldn’t help joking with people that Apple was taunting the Java developers with a “wouldn’t you rather go to WWDC?”


Microsoft keynoted at JavaOne for the first time this year. While the title of their talk was something along the lines of connected software and services (Microsoft talk for “cloud computing”), the actual content was a Glashfish-injected version of Microsoft’s interop from sometime last year (where WSO2 performed the interop role that Sun did here). The point was to demonstrate that Microsoft and Sun had been working together to make sure that their WS-* based stacks and components could work with each other.

That’s no big revelation (it’s sort of the whole point of all that Web Services), but if Microsoft doesn’t actually demonstrate that it works, all those jaundiced industry insiders would snidely mutter, “sure it works together – I’ll believe it when I see it.”

While Steven Martin in no way took the chance to kick Sun while it was down, there was one strange moment when Dan’l Lewin regaled the crowd with a dream about Sun and Apple teaming up around 68000-based stacks in the early 90’s. Indeed!


Sun folks had moods ranging from somber to resigned chipperness, mostly, there were in a wait-and-see mode. There was a down-turn in official activity: RedMonk typically has 3-5 scheduled meeting with Sun folks, where-as this year there was just one. Indeed, when you’re waiting to be acquired, there’s not much sense in doing anything but waiting.

There were notable sponsors and booth islands missing, namely (to steal Ian’s list) Oracle, HP, IBM, Nokia, SAP, and Motorola. You’d think Oracle could get a really good deal.

Other management- and meta-attendees (those who weren’t rank-and-file developers) expressed a similar deflated feeling. That said, in-between sessions the hallways seemed packed with people scooting from here and there. Other attendees I talked with still expressed the same enthusiasm about JavaOne, as one person put it, “this is like Mecca for me.” The JavaOne crowd is one of the fervent (on par with Microsoft programmers), and I don’t see that waning too much.

Disclosure: Sun paid for my hotel and badge for JavaOne. Sun, Eclipse, Microsoft, and Adobe are clients.

Categories: Conferences, Development Tools, Programming, RIA.

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Continuing the Discussion

  1. […] People Over Process » JavaOne 2009 – JavaFX, Microsoft, and People’s Mood "Indeed, when you’re waiting to be acquired, there’s not much sense in doing anything but waiting." I totally agree, however, the same cannot be said about some of my colleagues. (tags: redmonk michaelcote sun oracle javaone acquisition) […]