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Monday, May 10, 2004

A short break between TSS and Germany

So I'm back from TheServerSide Symposium and have just enough time to catch my breath before heading out to a multi-day engagement in Germany.

I was "in character" even before I arrived in Las Vegas, kibitzing with a group of developers across the aisle from me on the flight in.

My sessions, as well as a "TSS tech talk" video shot went pretty well. The HiveMind presentation still went a bit roughly; I'm beginning to think that, up against the Goliath of Spring, my little David had better differentiate itself quickly ... the distributed configuration (for both data and services) is the key distinguishing feature, and a solution that mixes HiveMind with Spring is a likely winner.

Much more interest in the Tapestry presentation, which is the advanced one convering component creation. Again, this is really an area where Tapestry differentiates itself most strongly from the other similar frameworks (if such things exist). I did a bit more live presentation, which was a chance to show and discuss Spindle and the great Tapestry exception reporting page (and line precise error reporting).

Both sessions filled the small room I was in; I counted about 55 attendees in each session. The Tapestry session might have overflowed that room had it now been up against the very contentious "What's in EJB 3.0?" talk.

I thought the sessions I attended were very good. The keynotes were, alas, ignorable (except for the Flex presentation, which rocked). Most presenters were quite good; I think Rod Johnson did a very good job and was quite gracious towards me personally and towards HiveMind, to the point of quoting my HiveMind presentation during his "J2EE without EJB" session. We also talked frequently between sessions; overall, we respect that our frameworks address different needs and that combining them should be made as painless as possible. Meanwhile, I'm jelous that he's in a position to use his framework in production, something that identifies problems and limitations fast. It really underscores how I was languishing at WebCT; I need to get involved in some real work on a real project and be in the technical architecture driver's seat again; it's been too long.

I talked to so many people over the course of a few days and lost track of it all quickly ... I have to start jotting down notes on business cards. I know I promised copies of the book to Jason Carreira and Kito Mann, anybody else had better send me a reminder! Also, a lot of people are really pushing for Tapestry to support the Portal API somehow, someway.

People have been talking themselves blue over everything that went on and I don't have any additional, deep insights to add. Supposed "thought leaders" (like myself) have (publically and privately) questioned the status quo for quite a while, challenging the usefulness of EJBs, the practicality of separating the layers so profoundly, and identifying the needless complexity as a platform threatending problem (Rod has examples of major banks throwing away $20 million investments in Java and J2EE in favor of .Net). This philosophy has now gone completely mainstream. One has to question the relevance of EJB 3.0 at this time (and more so when it is ready for release). A phrase I came up with while talking to Rod is "Results Not Standards". Tapestry users are getting great results, even though Tapestry is not a standard (though it is compliant with the useful and reasonable parts of the J2EE standard). Likewise, WebWork, Spring, Hibernate (which is trying to become a standard) and so forth.

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