Java Posse Roundup: Day 3

Thursday, March 8

By Thursday, people were really getting the knack of open spaces conferences. Those who had held back in earlier days were right in the thick of things at this point. People were resisting the urge to lecture, and getting into the collaborative exchange of information that really gives Open Spaces its edge.

The first session of the day, for me, was on UI Design. Joe reminded all of us that it’s a huge mistake to have our data model reflect the UI design, and vice versa. Instead, it’s important to really drill down to what the user needs to do, and solve that problem from a user interface perspective (and to solve the data storage problem in a sound, but separate, way. Nods were given toward OmniSoft’s Graffle product, which sadly I can’t use because it only runs on the Mac.

Next, I attended a session that Tor had convened on nice looking fonts, typography, and pretty user interfaces. This was a bit out of my area of interest, and I had actually thought it was going to be a different session. I hung around for a bit and learned some things about font rendering (like that Java has its own font rendering engine, that Apple uses bitmapped fonts to ensure consistency in scaling, and that fonts look fuller on Macs and PCs than on Linux). I also learned that there’s a different gamma setting on PCs than Macs, by default. At some point, I realized that while this was interesting, I wasn’t really contributing and my interest had waned, so I exercised the Law of Two Feet (a tenet of Open Spaces).

The Law of Two Feet is “uncomfortable” to exercise until you get the hang of it. The idea is that it’s not only your prerogative to leave if you are not interested or participating in a conversation; it’s really your duty. The very presence of a bored or disinterested party brings down the energy of the group. By leaving, the overall energy increases because only those who are REALLY interested are in attendance. I probably would have left sooner, but that this session was in the lower level room and it was pretty comfy down there … complete with couches! Anyhow, I did leave and got some tea and relaxed until the next session. I could have joined another session in progress, but I decided I needed a break instead.

The last session of the day was on the GWT, and I was really interested in that. Robert Cooper has written a book on GWT, GWT in Practice, and he has an refreshing, pragmatic perspective. While he’s clearly a power user, he’s not afraid to say where Flex is stronger, and where GWT and Flex, working together, might offer some advantages.

GWT does play well with other Javascript libraries, like Scriptaculous, Yahoo UI, etc. More GWT wrappers will be available soon as well. Mostly, the toolkit works great for replacing desktop apps with web apps.

I have a friend who writes a lot of server side code and I pinged him when GWT was first released. He jumped on the bandwagon and has been effusive about it ever since. He loves GWT and finds the model very convenient.