Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Day 1 of the Java Posse Roundup 2010

Today was the start of the conference proper - the traditional intro/meet and greet, and the first two sessions (I took non-SQL databases and a session on Scala, but all the sessions looked good and it was hard to pick (well, OK - not *that* hard :-) ).

Non-SQL databases was a lively discussion about key/value, document oriented, column oriented and connected graph databases, and where it makes sense to use them. Of course, there are not usually "right answers" at the end of these sessions any more than there are in real life, but the theme was that it makes sense to use not only SQL in some cases, but that relational DBs still bring a ton of value, and if anything the new kids on the block have a lot left to learn from the old guard too - in particular when it comes to reliability, maturity and APIs.

The Scala session was more of a "what's it all about" kind of thing - with some discussion about whether the Scala learning curve is too high (it's definitely manageable), how to get into it (scalatest and soon hopefully scala-koans), whether it's enterprise ready (we think so) and the importance of a language visionary to give a language direction, as well as the trade-off between always maintaining backwards compatibility versus the freedom of being able to make breaking changes to improve a language.

After that we christened the snow with some cross country skiing, man that's fun but hard work. Tonight we have lightning talks, where I will be doing 5 minutes on genetic calculation 101 (based on some of my work at Navigenics).

So far, as always, people seem to be loving the conference - at approximately 60 people it's our largest ever (and certainly feels like it - if we get much large we will need to change venue). People are also engaging with each other really well this year - about half the attendees are alumni, and half are new, which is a great mix for keeping the flow of the conference going but still getting an injection of new ideas - an essential part of a healthy conference and community.

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