Tag Archives: JavaFX

Another Java Posse Roundup comes to a close

Well, I've been here in Crested Butte since Sunday afternoon, for the 3rd Java Posse Roundup. It's been an amazing experience, as always.  I blogged earlier in the week about how this conference evolves to match the interests of the attendees. Of course, I should have anticipated that it was still changing.  The attendees really take charge of this conference, and that's part of why it's so great.

In addition to the new (optional) hackathon day, there were several other changes this year. First of all, the size has exceeded the capacity of the Posse House and so the evening events were held at the conference location.  This gave everyone a bit more breathing room and was just as fun.

The lightning talks offer a wide variety of topics, not all of which are Java-related. I enjoy the non-technical talks and tech talks alike.  Some of the more amusing sessions from this year include Barry Hawkins' "Introducing Change" and Andrew Harmel Law's "Zombies".  The lightning talks will make their way to YouTube at http://youtube.com/javaposse.

The sessions, as always, were fascinating. Ranging from the very specific to the very general, they were all great. Of course, they will be released on the Java Posse podcast channel, and it will be interesting to hear the reaction of those who didn't attend. But I did realize that if you're not here, you miss out on a lot.  Not only will you likely not get the jokes, but you also miss out on the opportunity for "free consulting".  People are very generous with their time and ideas.  I have met some amazing people here over the years, and I do keep in touch with them throughout the year.  We bounce ideas off of one another and I benefit immensely.  I hope that I offer at least a fraction in return. 

The afternoon activities were varied. Some people gathered at houses around town to hack together, while others "networked" (aka, skiied and snowmobiled).  I was thrilled yet again to leave my downhill gear packed because of the interest attendees had in learning how to cross-country ski.  We went out two days (so far; I suspect we will go tomorrow morning as well) and the groups were great! Some footage may make its way to the internet; we'll have to see.  Fewer people downhilled this year than in years past, and I suspect that was a combination of the weather (it was grayish without new snow) and the fact that Bruce had broken his leg a few weeks ago.  I think that his mishap may have spooked people.

The hacking groups had productive afternoons as well.  Dick was able to rewrite his JFlubber app in both JavaFX and Flex. With both Tor and James to work with, Dick seemed pretty happy.

Bill Venners was here as well, and he was able to find several willing participants to work on ScalaTest.  Rumor has it that he and Tor got the NetBeans build working for ScalaTest, which will certainly improve the developer experience "out of the box". We had a group at our house one afternoon, and most of us were having difficulty getting it to build.  I'm glad that they were able to make progress. Bill's done a great job with ScalaTest!

After lightning talks, groups formed.  I never went to bed early, always intrigued by some interesting conversation at my house or another one, that went well into the night.  As is consistent with the previous 2 Roundups, I found that I spent nearly ALL of my waking time with other attendees.  I had one brief shopping trip alone to buy souvenirs for my kids.  That's it.  So, if any employers doubt the "hard work" that we do at this conference, pass this information along.  Even while we were out cross-country skiing, we were talking about "things", either about Java things or business things or the conference.  It's truly an experience in conference immersion.


Oh, and just to dispel the myth that geeks don't socialize and can't cook, here's a story:

Since several of us had rented houses around town (5 or 6 in total) rather than renting hotel rooms, we got together and organized a progressive dinner.  While Wikipedia describes it as a complex process requiring a lot of organization, we didn't have that experience and it was awesome.  So, if you're going to do one, don't do it THAT way.  Try it OUR way … you might be surprised.  Here's the official (LOL) Java Posse/Open Spaces version of a progressive dinner:

  1. Write down addresses of houses that are interested in participating. Each house will prepare "some food" (we left that open).
  2. Pick a start time.
  3. Pick a house to start at.
  4. Pick the successive houses and write down the order on the paper.
  5. Go to first house, and migrate to the next in line until done.

We announced this on Tuesday afternoon, and simply reminded everyone on Wednesday at noon.  40 people traipsed from house to house!  It was a lot of fun.

Pretty simple. And FUN! Not only did it get everyone moving around, talking to different people, it was a great way to see the other rental houses and to learn who liked to cook. We didn't go to the trouble of telling people what to prepare, assigning a course, or even letting one another know our plans.  Our menu was varied and we had a blast. Try it.

The week was way too short.  There was a lot that I wanted to do.  But, as usual, I'll be returning home with my batteries charged and new friends. Can't ask for much more than that.

Alternative Languages on the JVM at the Java Posse Roundup

The Java Posse Roundup conference continues to evolve to meet the interests of the attendees. This year, the first day was an optional day,  with groups coding on alternate languages on the JVM.  Groups formed to share their collective knowledge and interest surrounding several languages. I chose to attend the Scala Hacking session, as did 13 other people.  In other locations around town, there was a similarly sized JavaFX group, and a smaller Groovy/Grails group.  Later in the day, Fan was added.

In the Scala session, we went through some code that we had developed for an evening session last year, implementing some functionality of LINQ (Language Integrated Query for .NET), in Scala.  We based our work on Bill Wagner's article from Visual Studio Magazine.  We didn't make much new progress, mainly because we were trying to dissect what we had dome both for our benefit as well as for those who had never seen the language.  We're hoping to get back to that later in the week.  You can read Joel Neely's blog that summarizes a lot of what we did along with some insight.

Later in the day at the Scala Dojo, Dick Wall demonstrated some of the work he's been doing with genomics, while another group moved over to another house, to work on ScalaTest with Bill Venners.  We spent some time getting our development environments set up, and started with some assignments.  Bill's talking about a release later this week, and is looking for help on the project.  Several people have expressed interest and working together was a good start.  I suspect that wasn't the last Scalatest hacking session either!

After a short break for dinner, we all got back together at the Posse House (as we affectionately call the house where the Java Posse stays during the conference) for a review of how we had all spent our day.  The Groovy/Grails team demonstrated their work on getting a simple CRUD app to work, and the JavaFX team demonstrated an application that they had built, which included a timer that counted down.  By adding some designer work in PhotoShop, they were able to get a styled app up and running, and even included sound.  It was an impressive demo. Joel Neely reviewed what our team had dome with Scala, and Fred Simon (who endured 48 hrs of travel and delays to get here) did a brief overview of Fan, which is a language that targets both the JVM and CLR.

We're all looking forward to the conference starting today, with open spaces sessions.  This year, we have exceeded the capacity of the Posse House for lightning talks (but not for gatherings), so the consensus is that the evening lightning talks will likely be held at the conference location as well.  It's not as cozy, but it will likely be more functional!  I'm sure that at some point today, people will head off to ski, and that's part of the experience as well.

So, off for another day in beautiful Crested Butte. First stop, Camp4Coffee.  Then, conference kickoff!

Josh Marinacci blogs about JavaFX Mobile …

Josh Marinacci, who I enjoyed meeting at the Java Posse Roundup, is working on the JavaFX team.  His blog, always interesting, was really catchy today, saying, "There is no JavaFX Mobile.  There is only JavaFX".  The upcoming release fully supports JavaFX Mobile. Full mobile support. Josh's point seems to have even surprised Josh himself.  He said that he realized this morning what a big deal it was that you don't have to know anything more than JavaFX to write mobile apps.  "There is only JavaFX". Nice.  But don't take it from me.  Read Josh's blog!

Tech events in and around Ann Arbor

The end of the month is sort of light on tech events in Ann Arbor, but STILL there are things to do within driving distance!

PyOhio is going on in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday July 26.  It's a free event, and includes talks, open spaces, lightning talks, and poster sessions. If you're planning to attend and want to carpool, check with other Python developers on the MichiPUG Google group.

The Ann Arbor Java User Group canceled their meeting for next week (would have been on Tuesday July 29), but look for their meeting next month.  Rumor has it that the August talk will be on JavaFX, which is getting some air time at OSCON this week.  

Next week, Wednesday and Thursday (July 30-31) is the Michigan Flex Camp in Lansing.  The price is only $40 ($25 if you only want to attend the first day).  This hands-on interactive camp looks really interesting.  Registration is limited to 150 people, so sign up now if you're planning to attend: http://www.theflexgroup.org/camp/.

Lightning Talk Fridays, hosted by SRT Solutions, continue on Friday, August 1 from 3:30-5 pm.

And one non-technical event will be held next week as well.  The WXW Business group is holding a networking event for businesswomen at the Ann Arbor Art Center.  Cost is $10, and registration is limited to 120 people.  Wine and appetizers will be served. Registration is available at http://wxwbusiness.com/.

If you have any interest in traveling to North Carolina in next week or the week after, TrizPugBootCampArama is being held there, with 3 consecutive camps: PyCamp and 2 on Plone.

Oh, and of course, the first week in August will be busy event-wise, with both the Ann Arbor Computer Society meeting on August 6 (topic: Ruby for Domain Specific Languages) and the Michigan Python User Group on August 7.  More details on those meetings to come.


What I learned on my (Memorial Day) “vacation”

Last weekend, an unexpected turn of events (that involve our dog and a box of Bisquick) left me at home, while my family headed off for a planned weekend away with our friends.  The time alone gave me a lot of time to catch up on things, including shopping (which I usually detest), home improvement projects, and podcasts.  I thought I would share a little of what I learned over the weekend, things that might be relevant to people who would read this blog.


I caught up on a lot of podcasts while I was sanding and staining our windows. The irony of listening to Java Posse podcasts while doing "windows" even amused me.  But anyhow, I caught up on a bunch of those podcasts, including the recordings they did while at Java One.  The BOF and CommunityOne recordings were fun to listen to.  It always seems to catch Dick by surprise that people actually show up. I don't think that he realizes the impact that the Java Posse has on its listeners.  I've said this before, but it's worth repeating.  The podcast really does a great job of giving people an idea of the breadth of things that go on in the community.  I also listened to their Java SE 7 interview with Danny Coward. That was interesting and relevant for anyone who wants to know where Java is headed.  Between JavaFX and the proposals for Java SE 7, there are a lot of things to keep in mind.

After I had my Posse fix, I listened to Scott Hanselman's Hanselminutes,  on Microsoft Research's new language Spec #.  Spec# started as a fork of the C# compiler and added language extensions that support contracts.  I really like Scott Hanselman's podcast.  He covers a wide variety of topics, and in spite of his new job at Microsoft, he doesn't strike me as a Microsoft Fanboy.  Rather, he has a grounded view of things.  I appreciate that.  In anyone.

I then listened to "The Evolution of Yahoo" on Stanford's Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders podcast.  This was recorded in the same week as the Microsoft/Yahoo buyout talks collapsed, and was an interesting perspective on where Yahoo is going.  If you think that Yahoo turning down Microsoft's offer was a mistake, this may give some insight into why the Yahoo people thought that their stock was undervalued, and where the company is going.   

Somewhere around this time, during last weekend, Jay Wren twittered about Software Showtunes, and so I popped over to listen to that.  TOTALLY amusing.  Well worth the time. Microsoft takes a bit of a beating, but Apple doesn't come away completely unscathed either.

I think that I wrapped up the podcast/staining windows fest with IT Conversations "High Performance Computing Considered Harmful", which really provoked a lot of thought. The fact is that scientists and engineers write a lot of code.  Computer scientists often turn their noses up at the tools that they use, like Matlab, when in fact that tool serves them very well.  In fact, my husband uses Matlab for a lot of simulations, and one of our employees (Anne) has been working on the ProjectEuler problems using Matlab.  One of our consultants (Alex) thinks highly of it as well.  The truth is that this tool lets them get their jobs done.  What do we snooty computer scientists promote?  Parallel simulations?   Seriously?  Most CS grads can't write a decent multithreaded or parallelized app and we ask scientists and engineers to do this?  I loved it when the guest on the podcast said that if a scientist comes to him and says that he's run into a timing issue, then we should all realize that we're failing as computer scientists.  In fact, he estimates that only about 10% of scientists and engineers even use version control, yet so much time, effort, and research dollars go into speeding up simulations that will only be run a few times.  There are a lot of interesting things to consider about this.  I'm still thinking … I'm sure that many more blog posts will be generated from the ideas bubbling around in my head.

Buying Services

On the non-technical side, a learned a lot too.  More than just the fact that a dog needs to go to the vet if he eats a box of Bisquick and that much more gets done on home improvement projects when the kids are NOT home. 

What I learned was to take advantage of services that people provide.  As I tell my kids, we choose our professions based what WE do best in life.  For example,  I don't want the woman who cuts my hair writing software (and she doesn't want me cutting hair), which is why I pay her to cut it.  But more relevant to the software developer community (I'll affectionately brand us all as geeks for this rant), we need to recognize that there are services that we SHOULD be taking advantage of.  For me, that's shopping.  I HATE HATE HATE shopping. OK, I'm fine with buying software and hardware, but is that really shopping?  More explicitly, I hate clothes shopping.  I have discovered a service which I think that many of us in the geek community should embrace: the personal shopper.  It's free.  Some department stores (I used Lord & Taylor) pay them to help people like me, who are inept shoppers, choose items to buy.  Yes, they get a commission, but that's payment for their expertise (by their employer!).

Much like the scientists and engineers who don't use version control because they don't even know it exists, how do you discover that you could benefit from a service that you don't even really know about?  I had previously stumbled upon this service as I wandered aimlessly about, looking for a dress for an event that I had to attend.  I happened to run into the personal shopper who took me under her wing, escorted me to "her" dressing room, and brought armloads of dresses for me to try on.  She did a much better job of selecting a dress than I had done, and I returned the one that I had previously bought and purchased one that even COST LESS.

OK, there's a point here.  I'm trying to let you know the process so that you, friendly geek, are not intimidated by the process.

Here's a summary of my personal shopping experience from last weekend.

  1. Call department store and make appt with personal shopper for the next day. She asked a few questions, like what I was looking for. 
  2. Show up. 
  3. Clothes in my SIZE were hanging in the dressing room, for me to start trying on (ordered by color, type, etc).  I was a bit overwhelmed by where to start, but she walked me through it (start at the right and move left).  She brought me a bottle of water and retrieved other selections along the way (different sizes, etc.).
  4. Try on clothes.
  5. Personal shopper helps decide what does/doesn't look good.
  6. Fork over the credit card.  Personal shopper even applied a coupon (I didn't need to have one with me).
  7. I left with a nice selection of clothes that GO TOGETHER and are updated for 2008. 

That's my kind of shopping.  I wouldn't usually expose my personal weakness (my complete lack of shopping abilities), but I figured that this was a public service.  I've seen how people dress in our profession.  We need to consider this as a cost of doing business. 

I don't know when I'll get another "vacation" like this.  I promise not to poison the dog as an excuse to get one, but he's fine and I learned a lot (and my husband and kids had a great time with our friends too).  Doesn't get much better than that. 

Lots of cool Java news this week!

JavaFX plugin, GoogleGears, and GWT

I just ran across this article, which tells how to use Eclipse for building JavaFX.

And, GoogleGears is all the rage today too.  GoogleGears is a browser extension that lets developers create web applications that can run offline.  VERY cool.  It was rolled out at the Google Developer Days (today, but sadly not offered in Ann Arbor).

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that Google Web Toolkit (GWT) version 1.4 beta was released too.

Here's Bruce Johnson's (he's the tech lead) blog on the changes:


All in all, a pretty good week to be a Java developer, I think.

JavaFX Script in Ann Arbor next week!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007 at 6:30 pm (note new time and location)

I'm really excited!  The AAJUG meeting topic was announced today (for the meeting next week), and it's JavaFX Script, being presented by Raghavan "Rags" Srinivas, CTO of Technology Evangelism at Sun Microsystems.  Announced at JavaOne, JavaFX is a HOT topic in Java GUI building.  It's being discussed as a challenge to Flash.  Personally, I don't see that, but anything that helps build momentum in Java on the desktop (and simplify Swing development) is good, IMO.

The meeting announcement is at the Ann Arbor Java User Group website at http://www.aajug.org/.  Please RSVP so that there's enough pasta bar!

If you're a regular AAJUG attendee, Please note, we are meeting in a different room (changed again MONDAY)!


JavaFX Script

Ann Arbor Java User Group