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

I’m at the No Fluff Just
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

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
would be better then Suburban W. Des Moines, don’t you think?