Sun Developers Conference in Sydney - Part I

I'm spending today and tomorrow at the Sun Developers conference here in Sydney. It's really interesting to see where Sun's going with dev tools and developers. They've made some interesting claims in the keynote (especially around Microsoft not understanding community), but generally it's been pretty balanced (he said from the moral high ground <grin>).

There were about 150 people in the keynote, and it looks like quite a few more have come for the meat of the sessions.

The keynote was broken up into a couple of sections. The first, by Bob Brewin, concentrated on where Sun are going with their dev tools and what they see as important. He emphasised community, good tools, alignment of the platform and the runtime and Application Lifecycle Development and Management. No arguments there.

Next up was Matt Thompson (can't find a blog link for Matt). he talked about Sun's approach to developers and how they see them as a conduit to revenue through infrastructure sales. To this end they have decided to release all of their dev tools for free under various open source licenses. He also made the following points about open source development:

  • Open Source does not mean something's free - the ongoing costs are actually probably higher than other options.
  • Development time for Open Source projects is usually longer than projects that are developed in-house
  • Open Source does not help you find bugs. Having lots of people looking at the code generally means that you find the same (simple) bugs lots of times. Finding deep bugs needs thorough and rigorous architecture, investigation and testing with experienced people and advanced tools.
  • Without community, most Open Source projects will fail.

My favourite quote from Matt's talk was "Companies that don't understand citizen technologies are like media companies that don't understand citizen media". I agree with this. Where we differ is what we do with that understanding. I feel very strongly that it make a lot of sense to provide the infrastructure in a stable and consistent way on which developers can innovate. Citizen technology is not about the OS or the plumbing layer, it's about the stuff people interact with. The job of the OS or the framework is to do the drudgery, and let the developers solve the new problems, not the old problems over and over again.

I just attended an interesting presentation from Simon Ritter - one of the Technology Evangelists - on current and future versions of Java SE. Without him saying so in as many words, it looks like some of the upcoming features (especially in "Dolphin" - Java SE 7) are trying to catch up with the new bits in .NET framework 2.0 and Orcas.

My impression is that all of the speakers are from the US and that the local office is providing logistical support.