Editor's Desk

Monday Sep 08, 2008

Looking back at JSFOne 2008

I had intended to write about JSFOne 2008 several times during the show, but helping with the show, working on my sessions, chatting with our excellent speakers and attendees, and plain fatigue, got in the way of that plan :-).

So, I'm sitting here in my hotel room the Monday after the conference (my last day in town), trying to figure out what to say.

When Jay Zimmerman and I setup the schedule, I thought having my Exploring the JSF Ecosystem keynote at the beginning was a good way to provide a context for the topics throughout the next couple of days. Not everyone knows about all of the UI component suites, IDE tools, and dozens of libraries and extensions available for JSF. Fortunately, my hunch turned out to be correct -- I was able to refer people to sessions that delved deeper into specific topics, and several people told me they enjoyed having my keynote first.

This was my first experience organizing a conference, and I had a funny sensation later on day one. After running around constantly all day (and the day before), I had the chance to sit in on the last few minutes of Ian Hlavats' Designing JSF user interfaces with Adobe Dreamweaver presentation. Suddenly it hit me: I invited Ian and suggested that talk. As a matter of fact, I either invited or approved all of the JSFOne speakers. And the conference was actually happening. There were three other JSFOne talks going on at that moment. Weird.

Of course, my enjoyment of the 40+ sessions was short-lived. I spent most of my "free" time recording podcasts for JSFCentral.com with several speakers, including Stan Silvert, Daniel Hinojosa, Scott O'Bryan, Martin Marinschek, Neil Griffin, and Ian Hlavatz. A few speakers slipped through the cracks, such as Keith Donald and Ed Burns, but such is life.

It's interesting interviewing several people in succession, because the personality differences jump out. Some people are very terse, others are quite the opposite; with some it's easy to establish a conversational rapport; with others, you have to pull information out of them. I know one thing's for sure: all of the interviews are interesting. And, since I upgraded my podcast recording equipment, they'll sound better too. You can expect to see them posted on JSFCentral.com over the next several months.

Even though I didn't see many sessions, I was able to bounce between the BOFs on the first night. We had four of them: MyFaces, Seam, Testing, and If I Were the Spec Lead, I Would... The latter BOF, run by JSF co-spec lead Ed Burns, drew the largest crowd. Ed asked people to get up on a pedestal and declare what they would change about JSF; he got a lot of good feedback. I emphasized the need for better error-handling for 'magic strings', such as matching action outcomes with navigation rules. Stan Silvert led up the testing BOF, where he provided some detailed info on his JSFUnit project. The Seam BOF was lead by Dan Allen, Emmanuel Berhnard, and others. Dan pointed out the differences between the Seam and Spring philosophies, while Emmanuel provided some insight on Hibernate Search and Compass (summary: competition is good). By the time I made it to the MyFaces BOF, Matthias Wessendorf, Martin Marinschek, and the attendees were already talking about beer, so I don't have too much to say about their session...

The party on Friday night was lots of fun -- it was one of several events that combined both the JSFOne and Rich Web Experience crowds. I got a chance to talk to some people about real-world deployments, which is always a good thing. Everything was going fine until Ian Hlavats bought me a strange blue drink, which I intelligently asked to be extra strong. It was all down hill after that. I vaguely remember talking about music (Ian plays flamenco guitar, I dabble in keyboards, Ed Burns plays piano, etc.) drinking tequila, and ordering more drinks. It was a fun night, but I wasn't having as much fun Saturday morning...

On Saturday, there were couple of sessions, plus a keynote from Jared Richardson on Career 2.0 and a bonus keynote from Ed Burns on Rockstar Programmers. After two-and-half days of intense UI development sessions, it was good to end on a completely different tune.

So, what else is there to say? I can talk about how bright and knowledgeable the attendees were. I can say it was great meeting the speakers I didn't know in-person, and hanging out with old friends. I can say that Jay Zimmerman and the NFJS crew did a phenomenal job pulling off the show. One thing's for sure: the show was a great success, and we're doing it again next year. Stay tuned.

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