No Fluff Iowa - Day 1 (Java's Dead, Ruby Lives)

Reading time:
About 3 min

I’m at the No Fluff Just Stuff Central Iowa Symposium in Des Moines this weekend, and Day 1 was a great start. First I saw a great Test First session hosted by Venkat Subramaniam. He quickly covered the top points of Test First development by creating a TicTacToe app on the fly. He’s a great presenter, and even mentioned JUnitPerf for performance testing that I wasn’t aware of. He also showed well how test first enforces service layer abstraction just by better coding.

Then I saw a couple of Bruce Tate sessions, the first titled Lightweight Dev Strategies, and the second was Politics of Persistence. I really enjoyed the first of these, as it delved into agile methods, testing, dependency injection, REST, and other hot topics of the moment. It was great to get Bruce’s impression of these. The second session also covered great topics like JDO, Hibernate, iBatis, and Entity Beans, and he did a good job of covering the political history of these. I was a little disappointed that more detail wasn’t covered about the specific implementations of each, but was happy with the sessions details overall at a higher level. I’m also feeling the urge to investigate KODO JDO, iBatis, and Spring JDBC in more detail now.

Now to the interesting part… It was capped by an “Expert Panel” consisting of Venkat, Jason Hunter, and Dave Thomas (what happened to Bruce Tate?). Good discussion, but focused mainly on testing, and the other hot button: Ruby on Rails. Ruby has been the hidden underlining to both of Bruce’s sessions, and now obviously with Dave. It does feel a little awkward to be at a Java conference, and have each session finish with “But if you really want to do it well, then you have to use Ruby on Rails”. They keep preaching that we are at the death of Java, and Ruby on Rails is here to save us. Do they really expect the three of us to return to Omaha to tell our director, “Sorry but we’re ditching everything from the past few years for Ruby”? They say there are no vendors at the NFJS symposiums (in the JavaOne mindset), but some of this feels like they are actually open source vendors building a product that they hope to support and live off of. How much kool-aid can we drink?

So Day 1 has been a great start, and spending the evening at Rock Bottom Brewery couldn’t hurt either. I do wish this conference was in Omaha instead of Des Moines though, as Omaha has nearly 850,000 (over 1 mil if you count Lincoln) compared to Des Moines at half of the size. Omaha also has 5 fortune 500 companies (as of last year) with a couple of other large Java shops on top of these, but Des Moines has been a great host so far… But the Old Market would be better then Suburban W. Des Moines, don’t you think?