Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Impact of a Googless JavaOne

Although disappointing, it was not surprising to hear, according to Josh Bloch's blog post, that Google "won't be able to present at JavaOne this year" because "Oracle’s recent lawsuit against Google and open source has made it impossible for us to freely share our thoughts about the future of Java and open source generally."  Paul Krill covers this story in his post Google backs out of JavaOne Conference and Mitch Pronschinske covers it in Google Boycotts JavaOne (the latter of which also features some great reader feedback and comments).  Google employee Jeremy Manson also confirms Bloch's post.  The Darryl K. Taft post Google Blows Off JavaOne, Citing Oracle's Android Lawsuit also covers this announcement and discusses other ways in which JavaOne 2010 will be different from previous editions.

This will affect the "grunts" of the Java software development community such as myself far more than it will hurt Oracle or Google.  I thought that Reza Rahman summarized this nicely in his feedback to the Pronschinske post.  I also thought that Fabrizio Giudici's comment on that same post put it well:
I'd like Google to speak clearly. Instead of saying "We can't participate at JavaOne 2010", I'd like to read: a) Oracle is practically preventing us from speaking - b) Our lawyers told us that it would be risky for the corporate if we speak - c) We're boycotting JavaOne.

If a) is true, then shame on Oracle. If b) is true, then shame on the law system, but we can't do anything about that. . . .  If it's c) - sorry, but I say shame on Google. They would treat us, attendees and members of the community, as human shields in their war.
Losing a level of participation at JavaOne from a major player in the Java world is nothing new.  For example, IBM reduced its level of participation in JavaOne 2003 significantly from previous years.  In fact, the referenced article's Jason Bloomberg quote on IBM's relationship to Sun and Java could almost be applied to what many of us hope happens today with Oracle, Google, and Java:
I wouldn't say that by any means they're [IBM] distancing themselves from Java, but I would say they're distancing themselves from Sun. . . .  They are looking to drive their efforts with Java more independently from Sun, and JavaOne is a Sun event.
As much as we'd all like JavaOne to be about all things Java, there's no denying that in recent years JavaOne has had serious bent toward Sun.  Until last year's event, neither Oracle nor IBM had anywhere near the coverage that Sun did at recent JavaOne conferences despite being two major players in the Java community.  I even heard some quip that the conference should have been named SunONE.  The heavy emphasis on Sun-specific JavaFX for three straight editions of the conference is evidence of that.  Dismal discussions surrounding JavaOne are also nothing new as evidenced by this 2004 JavaWorld article.

The previously referenced blog posts from Google employees tell us that Google employees will not be presenting at JavaOne 2010.  It's not clear to me at this time whether presentations shared by Google employees and employees of other companies will continue.  My best guess is that they would because it seems entirely too heavy-handed for Google to tell employees of other organizations what they can and cannot do.  For example, will Bill Pugh present "Java Puzzlers: Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel" which is currently shown on the JavaOne/OpenWorld Schedule Builder as scheduled for Monday, September 20, at 4 pm?

Other presentations that are possibly impacted by Google's decision include:
⇒ "Is Java Servlet Good for WebSocket?" (BOF)
⇒ "The Collections Connection: Special 'It Goes Up to the 11th' Edition"(BOF)
⇒ "Google Web Toolkit Versus Rich Ajax Platform: Which Java-Based Ajax Is for You?" (Conference Session)
⇒ "High Performance Java Servers at Google" (Conference Session)
⇒ "Weaving a Tangled Web: Threading Best Practices at Google" (Conference Session)
⇒ "Google Web Toolkit (GWT) Cloud Applications: Fast, Fun, and Easier Than Ever" (Conference Session with VMWare presenter as well)
⇒ "Using Collections to Drive Your Swing Models" (BOF)
⇒ "Google Cloud Computing for Java Developers: Platform and Monetization" (Conference Session)
⇒ "NetBeans, IntelliJ, Eclipse, and Oracle JDeveloper: Comparing Four Plug-in APIs" (Conference Session)
⇒ "Your Instincts Are Wrong: Learn How by Microbenchmarking with Caliper" (Conference Session)
⇒ "Java Puzzlers: Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel" (Conference Session with University of Maryland professor)
⇒ "Taking Java to the Sky: Cloud Computing 2010 Expert Panel" (Panel Session that it likely to go on with five panelists that are not Google employees)
⇒ "OpenJDK at Google: A Year in the Life" (Conference Session)
⇒ "Java Bloopers: Bad Code That Never Should Have Been" (Conference Session)
⇒ "Cloud Cover: Testing Techniques for Google App Engine" (Conference Session)
⇒ "GUI Animation Rules (Conference Session)
⇒ "Dual-Pivot Quicksort and Timsort, or Sorting on Steroids" (Conference Session with an Oracle employee)

The fate of the last one listed above is particularly interesting because the co-presenter is an Oracle employee.  Besides all of us attendees who will miss out on the Google-presented presentations, the biggest losers in all of this may be the Google employees who have likely spent considerable time and energy preparing for this.  Although I've never spoken at JavaOne, I've spoken at several conferences and have found it to be exhilarating.  Although these speakers will obviously try to present their presentations in "other venues," JavaOne has to be one of the most exciting places to present for a Java-related topic.

Google's actions clearly impact their employees presenting at the conference.  It is not so clear how this impacts their Bronze Sponsorship.  The next image (see lower right corner) shows a screen snapshot I took earlier this evening from the JavaOne web page with Google still listed as a Bronze Sponsor.

As disappointing as it is to not have Google presenters at JavaOne, the potential ramifications of a furthering rift between Google and Oracle are far more serious.  If IBM can continue to be a major force in the Java community with less influence and involvement in JavaOne, so could Google if they wanted to.  However, the difference is that IBM has chosen to explicitly align itself with the Java community.  I believe that Oracle and Google both have much to benefit from a strong Java community and brand if they can work out their differences.  If they cannot, however, increasing fragmentation may be the inevitable result.

There is no question that Google's presence will be missed at JavaOne, particularly the employees' presentations and BOFs.  However, it is looking like JavaOne 2010 will not lack for drama, intrigue, and conspiracy theories.


Unknown said...

I just have to say that your blog has the most beautiful font//background combination that I've ever seen on a blog anywhere. That is all.

Kevin Farnham said...

Great post, Dustin! Your friendly editor said, on February 19, 2010:

'In a sense, I think this year's JavaOne will actually be more focused on core Java topics. Wasn't the old JavaOne really a kind of "SunOne" or "SunWorld" conference, in ways?'

I still feel that way.

Despite Googlessness (which really is unfortunate, as you say), I'm really looking forward to this year's JavaOne!

@DustinMarx said...


Thanks for the kind words about the presentation. I really like it as well. All of the credit goes to the creator of this template, Joshua Peterson.

@DustinMarx said...


I read your comment in February and agreed with it then. I appreciate the return to core topics or what Justin Kestelyn calls a "return to purity."

I wish the Google employees were still presenting at JavaOne, but I am looking forward to it anyway with so many excellent sessions scheduled.