How I improved my Java skills over the weekend

I spent last weekend in the classroom studying Java and popular frameworks. Actually, I was moving from one classroom to another trying to absorb as much information as possible while attending a traveling Java symposium called Non Fluff Just Stuff. For busy Java professionals who can not attend training during business hours this seminar is a steal. Even though all speakers are published authors and well known in the industry Java experts, the tuition is very modest. This seminar does not include any sales pitches: there is no vendors there. Just the training.

I started with the session on Spring Framework delivered by Stuart Halloway. His message was clear: programming has to be simple. Spring is a well crafted framework, that can be used in a variety of ways: entire Spring framework, some of its components, with or instead of Java EE.

Since the sessions run in four parallel tracks, you often have to make a tough decision: which one to attend. What really helps is that the CD will all presentations is given to attendees as soon as they are registered. Let me repeat, not soon after the seminar, not we “ll let you know when the slides are published, but b-e-f-o-r-e. I was browsing the slides to pick up the next session .

This is very informal gathering. Attendees casually talk with each presenter in the classrooms, during the breaks, and they eat together. For example, over the breakfast after my prediction that AJAX will be gone from the business applications landscape in three years, Stuart Halloway has immediately bet a beer that this was wrong and AJAX will become even stronger. What “s your take, who “s gonna pay for the beer? By the way, Stuart, I drink Leffe beer.

Here “s another important observation: to be a cool presenter at Java conferences, you need to purchase an Apple notebook and use IntelliJIDEA IDE for the live demos. Most of the presenters used this combo. I am using IntelliJ already, but I “m still working on the slide show for my wife that would give her a reason to let me spend another $2K for an Apple notebook (we already have three iPods in the house to support Steve Jobs lifestyle ).

Neal Ford delivered an interesting talk on how to become more productive at work. This talk is about making a comfy environment for a programmer. Programmers are weird creatures, and for them a comfy environment means to have proper code editors, the version control system and the like. Neal is the guy who actually spent time studying all these little shortcuts, utilities and tricks that various OS “s have but we do not know about. Knowing these things can substantially improve your productivity.

I “m not going to list all the sessions here: all presenters were top notch! OK, just one more: Brian Goetz. Yes, the author of the excellent book on threads. We “ve discussed several subjects with Brian, but let me just give you a couple of Q and A “s.

At some point, there was a discussion about Hibernate, and I “ve asked him, “What is your personal preference, using Hibernate or SQL for data persistence? rdquo;. Brian said, that every time he uses on of these, he thinks that he should have been using the other one.

Here “s my next question, rdquo;A requirement to write the GUI-related operations in the event-dispatching thread complicates Swing programming a lot. If you had a chance to redesign Swing, would you implement it differently so the life of the Java programmers would have been easier? rdquo;.

Brian said, “No. So far any GUI toolkit that tried to support multithreaded GUI failed. There are two reason that can lead to the GUI update: the user interaction and the application itself, and unless you have a single dedicated thread that updates the GUI, it “s very difficult to avoid lock-ordering inconsistencies, which leads to deadlock “.

Brian “s presentation about Java memory model was a heavy duty stuff. I felt as if a Thai-style massage was being applied to my brain. Luckily, there was a lunch break after this talk where Jay Zimmerman, the man behind this event raffled off several books and iPods. Jay has managed to build an all-stars team that travels around the country for years. Think of it this way: JavaOne speakers are coming to your town, to share with you the latest trends, tricks and techniques that are important for any professional Java programmer (the emphasis is on the word professional). To put it simple, you can “t go wrong with NFJS.

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