Monday, November 16, 2009

Devoxx University day 1

Well here we are again - day one of the university. There are still lots of people ,maybe a bit less comparing to previous years! Anyway the idea remains the same, excellent talks, nice line up, nice we go!

My first talk of the day is one of my favorites anyway. JBPM4 in Action (Tom Baeyens and Joram Barrez).

In the past year I have been heavily involved along with a team of other experienced developers to develop (actually to redevelop) complex business needs for a large distributed enterprise application which was struggling when using a proprietary BPM engine. In the recent months we have managed to accomplish and master our business domain by using JBPM comparing to 1.5 years on the other technologies. I am a huge supporter of JBPM so I wanted to see an overview of the new version. It seems that truly JBPM evolves and satisfies complex needs that are mostly related to the real pain of developing business processes. Pain a) mind the gap between analysts and developers b) give the developers access to complex mechanisms so they can tune transactions, deployment, maintenablity. We have been using JBPM 3.2.6 and given its open source nature we were able to hack on several places and tune or alter some things (mostly related to to the way the state machine is using its executor engine how it uses and how transactions behave). During the talk i saw that most of the problems we were discussing some months ago and we were trying to find nice and smart ways on solving them - are mostly covered by the new release plus more more new stuff. Better eclipse designer, a potential web designer mostly for analysts, new better engineered API where you can 'inject' your own custom behavior inside the JBPM core without hacking 100% the core code - see Interceptors on the Command service and Job executors, better Eventlisteners etc. Lots of nice stuff that you can have a look on the official site - have a look on release 4.2. I gained my JBPM 4 T-shirt with a couple of questions mostly concerning the evolution of command executors and how easy it is to migrate from 3 to 4. Actually the answer to the latter is that if you have a fine grained and tuned 3.2 release and satisfies your needs do not move to fast to 4. Quite reasonable but at the same time I have to say that you must really sure that you have accomplished everything with 3 meaning - version 4.2 offers things out of the box (almost) in critical areas like transactions. Check them out and decide! I will definitely attending the BOF later on! I am JBPM die hard I guess!!

Next big talk was about development on the Amazon Elastic Cloud (EC2) and the various problems or features you might have using the cloud if you want to build cloud enabled application. The presenter Chris Richardson a Java Champion and founder of gave a really solid talk. Eventually developing in the cloud has lots of advantages but at the same time lots of disadvantages. Latetly I have been discussing these various issues with friends and we were concluding that there are still problems. Eventually during the talk the speaker gone through all these questions and concerns, gave answers or workarounds to some of them or made some others more severe for me - meaning I have not thought of them. I am gonna use this talk when is releases to Parleys or to a similar service as a reference - for sure.  Eventually I decided to skip the JSF sessions (which i still dislike ...its been for years now haha) and my choice was rewarded since the EC2 session was really - interesting!

After a break i joined the Hades framework session. I have to admit - i was not so much impressed of it. It seems that adds a bit more extra effort for maintenance to the developer - offering though some nice helps during development. I really don't know which one is better. I think I prefer sticking to the JPA spec and the known ways of using it rather than adding extra small layers. Maybe I am bit conservative on this or... addicted to  Hibernate a lot :P .

After Hades I stayed on the same room, joining a very interesting but rather small talk about the No SQL movement and tools like HBase and Cassndra (see Hadoop). Actually I am still skeptic about the whole movement but I really liked one of the speaker's argument he said 'look around you - famous and very large applications on the web do not use Relational Databases for their massive data!' Anyway it always depends on the case I think but - it is true! You really need to try - forgetting your relational knowledge in order to fully understand how to model something to these new tools. Excellent talk - I wish I could join their BOF as well - but it is on the same slot with JBPM (which as I said...I am die hard - haha). Definitely though going to have a closer look on HBase or Cassandra.

That is the end for today's regular sessions. I am planning to attend a couple of BOF's (really trying hard to keep up with the pace). It is a really demanding thing - if you want to join several sessions, take notes - stay focused. But it is fun and it is really nice to see old friends from the Java world ..coming in. At the same time, I made several notes new ideas and new questions came up, that is a real indication of how good a conference is!Well I missed my conference days :). I am back, even though I still feel a bit weird hanging around..with an arm strap. :D. Well ...

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