JavaOne logo You should've been there!

(All JavaOne logos used with permission of Sun Microsystems.)


In This Article
Conference in a Nutshell
The Exhibition Floor
Receptions and Other Fun Stuff
Closing Comment
by Marie Alm


Once again, for the second time in history, JavaOne was a huge success. Many people have asked me, "Why didn't they call it JavaTwo?" Since I am not in the group who decides such things I can only surmise. One thought is that the One in JavaOne signifies Java's place in the programming world, especially as viewed by Java believers and other supporters. Another is that since Java is expected to be a part of the world for a very long time, the name, for example JavaEightySeven, gets to be pretty cumbersome <g>. In any case, JavaOne it is and, most likely, JavaOne it will remain.

Almost all of the technical content can be found online at the JavaSoft site. In this article, I will give an overview of that content and some highlights. More, I will tell you about the other parts of the conference that are not online and I have not seen described in the many conference reports available elsewhere.

First you must realize that Java was formally announced just 2 years ago - a little over 700 days. The growth of acceptance and use is nothing less than phenomenol. At the first JavaOne last year (May 29 - 31, 1996), approximately 3500 people were expected. It turned out that Registration had to be closed when the count reached about 6000 because the conference setup could not accomodate any more bodies! This year, about 8000! people were expected. Toward the end of the week, someone commented on the "over 12,000" people who were there. JavaSoft's SpotNews site shows that 10,000 people were there from over 40 countries making this "the largest developer's conference in the world."

To make the week even more interesting (one wonders how that could be possible?) the conference Software Development '97 was going on just across the street! In fact, the two conferences were physically connected via the walkway underneath the street. It was from that walkway that you gained access to the JavaOne Exhibition Hall where the multitude of vendors were demonstrating their wares. The Exhibition Hall for SD '97 was right next to it. We JavaOne attendees were allowed to visit that Exhibition Hall too.

Upon registration, you received a capacious bag with the JavaOne logo embroidered on the front. I preferred the backpack of last year however, for one reason, it was easier to carry. This year's bag didn't sit as well, was a little more bother to get into, and had only one small pocket on the flap. Inside were 3 CD's (Java Workshop, JavaReel, and CBT Training), a JavaOne pen (with beans in the cap), promotional flyers, and the invaluable notebook. The notebook contained maps of the conference, the schedule (which had only one change during the entire conference), abstracts of all sessions and keynotes, a list of all exhibitors along with a short description of their products, and lots of blank pages for note-taking. I was glad to find out that we didn't have to deal with hundreds of handouts this year since all session slides were going to be placed online. Still, the bag was very useful to hold all the literature and memorabilia collected. Some of the items found at various locations around the conference were a Duke decal, a Duke dollar bill, a Duke comic book, T-shirts, cups, buttons, and pens.

There was so much going on in so many places that 

one person could not possibly see and do it all. 


In the Hacker's Lounge, PC Week gave live broadcasts and on one occasion interviewed Scott McNealy and Alan Baratz.

The big talk this year was about Beans (and the BDK - Beans Development Kit), the JDK 1.1, 100% Pure Java, and Smart Cards. These were discussed in keynote addresses, sessions, BOFs (Birds of a Feather discussions), around the floor, and at the many receptions and parties. JavaSoft also made many important announcements regarding APIs and partnerships including Java Foundation Classes, Enterprise JavaBeans, PersonalJava, EmbeddedJava APIs, Java testing certification and more. You can find more information on all of these at the JavaSoft SpotNews site. And here's something interesting: The SpotNews says that "more than 450,000 developers have downloaded the Java Development KitTM since it was posted February 19, 1997." Now that's impressive!! Be sure to keep an eye on the What's New page from JavaSoft.

JDK 1.1 ............. The newest release from JavaSoft.
100% Pure Java ............. A Sun initiative with broad industry support to ensure Java integrity.
Java testing certification ............. Certify an application as 100% Pure Java.
Java Card (Smart Cards) ............. A credit card type device with a JVM on the card!
Java Foundation Classes ............. A new set of GUI components incorporating AWT (Sun) and IFC (Netscape)
JavaBeans and InfoBus (Lotus) ............. "the standard for information sharing and transfer among JavaBeans" - JavaSoft
Enterprise JavaBeans ............. "building end-to-end business solutions" - JavaSoft
PersonalJava ............. for network-connectable products people use in homes, while mobile, or in the office
EmbeddedJava APIs ............. designed to run on a wide variety of high volume microprocessors
JavaSound ............. Great interactive sound (Thomas Dolby Robertson)
JavaStudio ............. Create dynamic web content (Corel)
JavaPC ............. Convert old PCs into Java-enabled network computers (under $100 USD)

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Conference in a Nutshell

Keynotes were given by several of the notables in the Java world. In all, they talked about the current and future state of the Java revolution along with some of what has been accomplished so far. Remember that Java was introduced to the world only 2 calendar years ago (how many is that in Internet years??).

James Gosling and
Alan Baratz
(Sun Fellow and a key architect of Java)
(President, JavaSoft)
Eric Schmidt and
Vinton G. Cerf
(CTO Sun Microsystems)
(Senior VP MCI Communications and co-developer of TCP/IP)
Scott McNealy (CEO and co-founder, Sun Microsystems)
Dana Carvey (comedian)
[no transcript available; see bio just after Scott McNealy's Keynote abstract]
Jeff Johnson (Lead UI Engineer - Hubble Space Telescope,
Lockheed Martin Space Mission Systems)

One of the important things Alan Baratz announced was that Sun has applied to ISO (the International Standards Organization) to be a working group of ISO. This will enable them to be on the fast-track through the process of standardizing Java.

I was particularly intrigued to learn from Jeff Johnson's talk [and those from Dr. Paul Backes (JPL) and Dr. Greg Helt (UC Berkeley)] that for the Hubble Space Telescope (Lockheed; NASA Goddard), the Mars Rover (Jet Propulsion Labs, Pasadena), and a DNA Mapping tool for the Human Genome Project (University of California, Berkeley) - the controls are all Java Applets. That means that with commands sent through Java applets in a browser, the engineers and scientists can tell the telescope where to point and the rover on Mars (!) where to go and what to do when it gets there. Now, if those aren't some fine examples of serious programming, I don't know what is.

Jeff told us that the Johnson Space Center (Houston, Texas, USA) uses Java too and that Johnson and Goddard share Java code without having to port. He also told us that Goddard regards this as the most successful software system they have ever had. Management at Goddard, despite initial reluctance, now asks "why do we do it any other way?"

Paul Backes told us that the web interface was originally planned to be used for the rover mission to Mars in the year 2001 but it was developed so fast that they decided to use it for this current mission. The current rover is scheduled to land on Mars on July 4, 1997.

Greg Helt says that the biologists love this interface to their data. With their applet driven interface, a "whole planet of collaborators" can have access to 3 billion bytes of information in real-time. It also supports global collaborative annotation. This interface uses Marimba's Castanet for deployment and updates.

John Gage added that "the expensive, difficult science can now reach the kids in the classrooms."

About the Hubble Space Telescope
About the Mars Rover
About the Human Genome Project

Click here to see a listing of the 34 BOF sessions held in various locations in and near Moscone.
Click here to see a listing of the 72 Tracks packed into those three days.

I would like to add here that it was quite noticeable that the speakers were much better prepared with their speaking skills this year! Congratulations to all for the hard work and the good control of nerves!
One criticism that I usually have, and it is appropriate here again, is that for many slides the fonts were too small! It is better to show fewer words on the slide that can be seen at the back of the room than many words that only the front row can see.

One of my favorite sessions in the Technical Track was on improving performance of my Java code. See an abstract of this at High Performance Java: Programming Tips, Techniques and Choices. You can download the Slides for that presentation by clicking on the Slides button just after the Abstract.

Another favorite session in the Technical Track was the Advanced Programming Tutorial. The primary topics were regarding new features in JDK 1.1: JNI, inner classes, and Reflection. The source code for this Tutorial is available for download. Some of the tips learned were:

JNI (Java Native Interface)
With JNI, everything is done through the JNI environment pointer.
When this is used, the application is no longer 100% Pure.
JNI works in 2 steps: 1. look, 2. call.
How to pass-by-reference in Java: use a one element array.
Non-private fields should generally be final so subclasses won't rinse it out.
Inner Classes
An IC is local to another class or block and has direct access to those local
variables and methods. It must be final.
Use ICs instead of functions for callbacks and to keep packages tidy.
Provides the ability for a program to reason about itself and is usually in the
purview of the compiler.
In 1.1, can use Reflection for methods, constructors, as well as classes.
Can invoke any Java name symbolically.
Can ask questions regarding structure, fields, and supertypes on live objects.
When to use JNI, when to use Reflection
Prefer to use Reflection instead of JNI, if possible.
To connect to C code, use JNI.
To stay 100% Pure, use Reflection.
To use outside symbolics which are thrown to the code, use Reflection.
Method pointers in JNI are used once and cached.
Reflection stuff is garbage collected.

The Keynotes, the sessions' slides, some source code, and recorded WebCasts can be seen or downloaded from the JavaOne '97 web site. You will need a RealAudio 3.x player to here the WebCasts.

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The Exhibition Floor

There were so many vendors with interesting products that you could have spent the entire 3 days just here and probably still not see them all. One thing I was sorry to notice here was that there were very few promotional items. You know, the lucite pyramids, squeeze balls, slinkys, and such. A few vendors had pens and buttons and cups. JavaWorld had my favorite pen - it is flat! and can also be used as a bookmark. Now that was innovative.

I talked with many of the vendors while at the show. 136 exhibitors were listed in the conference syllabus but some reports have the number closer to 300! It is interesting to see all the products that have already been developed in Java and for Java. And it is quite enticing to hear of what is planned for the future. Some of these vendors agreed to let our conversations be published here for your benefit. Among these were Visix (development environment), Finjan (security software), O'Reilly & Associates (publishers), and Schlumberger (Smart Cards). The conversations we had can be found at the following links:

Visix High-end evelopment environment
Finjan Security Software
Schlumberger Smart Cards
O'Reilly Publisher; home of the Java in a Nutshell book

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Receptions and Other Fun Stuff

And as last year, there were numerous receptions and parties. Some were sponsored by the conference and some were sponsored by vendors. At these events, one can meet many people and learn a great deal in addition to having alot of fun and great food. As you were cruising around the floor, or rushing from a session to an interview or a BOF, you could stop at one of the coffee kiosks for a real latte or cappacino. And of course, periodically Duke was there "in person" being its friendly self. Amenities such as convenient "coat check" areas (a place to store your bags and paraphenalia) and continental breakfasts (bagels, muffins, and abundant fruit) were not forgotten. The coffee provided in the big urns was better than last year too. I definitely appreciated the coffee kiosk remaining open late Friday evening in the Hacker's Lounge.

In those brief moments between scheduled activities, the Hacker's Lounge offered about 80 computers where you could check your email, surf the web, or try out the Views. Those computers were constantly busy - 80 just weren't enough. While waiting you could lounge on the comfortable setees or play games (e.g. interactive TV). Nearby was the JavaStore with the shirts and jackets and bags and cups. One of the new items this year was a stuffed Duke for $15.

Members of Java User's Groups got an extra event on Tuesday afternoon. We were given a bag of goodies including a Duke comic book, a Java cup (nicely boxed), a frisbee, a round mousepad (from CBT, Java training), and 3 CD's (Java Workshop, Java Reel - one year of JavaWorld on CD, and CBT Overview). The food was really good small sandwiches, soft hot pretzels, and large! cookies. At this event, Netscape announced that Communicator 4.0 would support JDK 1.1 except for the AWT Enhancements and JavaBeans. They also talked about their new granular security concept and the JAR Packager. Among the other presenters, Kalamar (VisualJS) talked about building crossware applications (drag-n-drop client or server components; CORBA aware), and JavaWorld gave a Year-In-Review.

Later Tuesday evening was the official conference Welcome Reception held at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). We were treated to food, food, and more food - all of it presented by tuxedoed servers in artistic gourmet buffet style - and all of it great. I especially liked the iced tower of shrimp. MOMA was full to the brim of people destined to become part of Java's history at JavaTwo (I mean, JavaOne '97). The networking had begun.

Wednesday evening, Sybase gave a reception at the Brookings Gallery where they gave the presentation of their product Jaguar CTS (Component Transaction Server). After the presentation, you received a small stuffed jaguar and munched on nicely presented finger foods in the jungle atmosphere. Jaguar's scalable execution environment supports Java/JavaBeans, C/C++, CORBA, and yes, ActiveX. A beta is now available. Other Sybase offerings include jConnect providing native Java database connectivity, a partnershop with Visigenic which enable ORBs to run in Jaguar, NetOLTP a component transactions server for transactions over a net (inter-, intra-, or extranet), and JATO a RAD tool. Also noteworthy is that Marimba and Sybase have formed a "strategic alliance to cooperatively market and sell a complete solution for developing and deploying Java-based business applications over the Inernet."

From there, if you walked fast, you could fit in a BOF before the Party on the Floor at the Hacker's Lounge area.

Java Fest '97 (the street party) capped off Wednesday's special events. For this they actually closed down one block of Howard street in San Francisco (unbelievable!) so we could party in the street. It was jammed - really JAMMED shoulder to shoulder - with JavaOne people for several hours. Even though the cooks were cooking as fast as they could, the lines were fairly long at the different food booths (hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken-on-a-stick, tacos, ...). Still, everyone got plenty to eat and drink plus a T-shirt or two (it was here that folks picked up the now famous Gates T-shirt: "In a World Without Fences, Who Needs Gates" (not that we're bashing but it is a famous T-shirt)).

Thursday evening, after the sessions, JavaWorld gave a reception at the Cyberworld Cafe. Again, good food and drink abounded along with networking and just a generally good time. The walk to the Cyberworld Cafe was a long one, though, especially considering the fact that you had just been walking all day around the conference!

And then Thursday night, was the incredible gathering Fort Mason. You have to just take a deep breath and plunge in. This one is pure entertainment of the first order. The theme this year was Portal to the Millennium. It was held in two buildings each with distinct regions such as the Rainforest, Rio de Janeiro, Clubland San Francisco, and the FunDome. Three or four bands provided great music (jazz, rock, dance). The food was much more varied and just better this year than last and there was no danger of you becoming dehydrated with all the beverages readily available. Among the games were the gyroscope, virtual reality, the trampoline, the maze race, and super volleyball/basketball (the balls were about 5 feet diameter and the "hoop" was about 20 feet high). And the stilt walkers were there, this year costumed as what might be called butterfly/angels. Instead of the talking robot of last year, there were rollerskaters dressed in fantastical costume. This event is truely one of the highlights of the special events that you must experience to believe.

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Closing Comment

This once-a-year event is one you have to attend to fully appreciate. And that is putting it mildly! Make your plans now to come to San Francisco next spring and see for yourself. Be sure to bring good walking shoes and just plan to get very little sleep. You will leave saturated with information about Java and all its related aspects. One thing is sure: it is definitely exciting!

The trend is clear. Java will be everywhere.

The magazine SunWorld recently released an announcement giving notice that a "How It All Began" article has been revived via a link on JavaSoft's website to SunWorld's archive. It has received a great deal of attention. As they say, it covers:

What were the creators' expectations? Did they underestimate Java's impact? What were "Green," "Aspen," "*7," and "Oak?" The story also offers a detailed timeline of Java's development starting with a "Project Stealth" brainstorming session with Gosling, Bill Joy, Andy Bechtolsheim, and others.

This is definitely a must-read for all who are interested in Java and the Java culture.

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All links listed in this article.


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