November 10, 2003

NFJS day 3

Finally we come to the last day of the No Fluff Just Stuff conference. (See day 1 and day 2.) The conference seemed to be running very smoothly, only marred by the fact that we had to pay for wireless or even wired net access. This is incredibly short-sighted: net access has no marginal costs (one person can be served as easily as a hundred), the setup cost is fairly minimal, and the monthly cost is fairly low – they probably spend a lot more washing the daily towels than they would on monthly access. Dumb dumb dumb.

So the first session of the day was about Java Server Faces with Bill Dudney. Bill was a very good speaker: calm, personable and he was clearly very knowledgable about JSF and related it to existing systems (like Struts) while also discussing some of the motivations behind the framework decisisons. JSF is fairly interesting, particularly for the apparent ease of installing different types of components (like a calendar component, or different type of layout). Not enough people pay attention to this kind of thing. But the spec is a ways off, with the tools and frameworks behind that (frameworks closer, but still). I'll try and keep a 5,000-foot view of what's going on but that's about it.

The only problem with the presentation was the people asking questions. For some reason there's always a group of people who can't deal with temporary uncertainty. (This problem also popped up later in the XML Schema presentation.) They have to understand every part of what they're seeing and have no problem holding up the other 40 people in the room to do so. It's difficult to cut these folks off without being an asshole but you gotta do it, particularly if you're going to deal with the question later on in the presentation.

Next was Enterprise Messaging with Paul Perrone. There wasn't much new for me, or at least not much that I hadn't read in the ORA JMS book a while back. I would have liked to see more examples here as Paul kept it fairly high level -- that is, an example used and built upon throughout the presentation.

Next was lunch and another brief panel discussion. The panel this time was dominated by the threat posed by offshore workers and what we as developers can do to protect ourselves. Good discussion here, particular from Ron Bodkin who really impressed me with his ability to speak in lucid paragraphs. (I didn't go to any presentations by him so this was my only exposure.)

As a group we decided to skip the last session because we wanted to get home before midnight, so the last session of the day was Stuart Halloway on XML Schema. It was fairly straightforward and he used excellent examples to illustrate his points. Again, he dropped into IDEA to illustrate by example how namespace URIs worked as well as creating a schema and validating a document against the schema. I know that it's tough to type live in front of lots of people, but I wish everyone did this.

Going into the session I knew a potential side effect would be that I'd want to replace all our DTDs with schemas (not many, but still). Unfortunately I was right, and now I want to change an application to make this happen. It will make my life easier in the long run, but it's still something else to do.

All in all everyone seemed to learn a ton at the conference, and hopefully we'll be able to use that in the very near future.

Next: Powerbook on the way!
Previous: NFJS day 2