JavaOne is my favorite conference for many reasons: Seeing friends, learning, discussing technology, and being in SF, among others. This entry highlights some of the things I think will be worth checking out.
In years past, JavaOne has been characterized by "Big News" announcements from Sun, or by the latest hot Java technology. Last year departed from that as there were no big announcements and no hot new technologies. Unless Sun has a bomb to drop, I think this year will be about the same as last in this regard. I suspect there will be some hoopla for Tiger (1.5), but I'll be hoping for a surprise.
Even if there is no big news this year, I know I will still have a great time. In this entry I will share what I've learned from past conferences. Hopefully you will find something useful or have something to add. I'm no expert, and I don't work for Sun, so what I write isn't "official" and it's probably not optimal either.
If this is your first J1 conference then realize that you will need a plan to get the most out of your experience. This is a really big conference in a big, confusing city, so a little planning will go a long way.
By now you'd better have all your travel arrangements made as the hotels tend to sell out. Be sure you have a good map of the area and figure out ahead of time how to get from hotel to Moscone Center and back. Think real hard before renting a car. In SF, a car is a huge liability. There are buses available from the Center that will get you close to most of the hotels. If you are within a mile, you can easily walk. Otherwise there are plenty of cabs. Cab fare is cheaper than car rental and parking.
Figure out what is most important to you. You will only be able to see a small fraction of the sessions and BoFs so decide what areas are most important to you and prioritize accordingly. There is a decent online tool on the JavaOne web site that will help you build a schedule. I wish this tool were a little more robust, but I was able to get something together much faster than doing it by hand. Be sure to leave yourself time to eat and sleep. This may sound silly, but this conference runs about 20 hours a day. Also, leave some time to visit the vendor pavillion. You can learn an aweful lot by spending time looking at products and talking to people. Many of the companies, especially Sun, staff their booths with CTOs and key technologists. This affords a great opportunity to get face2face with the relevant people.
Don't wait until Thursday. It's a wind-down day. People are leaving, the pavillion shuts down, and the session density drops. Best advise is to knock yourself out Monday - Wednesday with the knowledge that you can rest a bit on Thursday.
Go to the BoFs as they are usually a lot of fun. The great thing about BoFs is that they aren't constrained like the sessions are. The bad thing about BoFs is that they aren't constrained like the sessions are. You never know what you are going to get so don't expect too much and maybe you'll be happily surprised. Many of the BoFs are paired with sessions so if you missed the session, or if you wanted to explore deeper, then go to the BoF. Some BoFs are too specific to be a session; avoid these unless you have a specific interest or need. Other BoFs are 'edgy'. They might be focused on new ideas, starting new community projects, or presenting minority views. These can be very fun.
Have a backup plan. Sometimes sessions and BoFs just don't meet your expectations. If you have a backup plan, you can usually hustle over to your second choice and only miss the introduction. As a last resort, there's always the pavillion. Speaking of such, you can usually replace the T-shirt portion of your wardrobe a little effort.
Try to keep abreast of conference news. Things change and things get hot or cold. Read the daily paper for updates. Log onto the J1 web site for additional information. Check blogs like this one that might have useful information. You should know that there are Internet stations scattered about and hot spots for your own computer. I understand there's some really good PDA tools for scheduling but I'm not a PDA person.
The General Sessions have been pretty weak the last few years. Definitely catch the Monday session as it tends to set the tone; nothing else is going on anyway. Tuesday, Scott McNealy is speaking so that might be good. The rest look like marketing to me. That's not all bad though. Last year, there were several entertaining demos - both because of what they could do, and because of what they refused to do. There was some very intense squirming going on ;-) A few years ago, it was somewhat amusing to watch the principles of the three big app server companies publicly attack each other's products. OTOH, this is also a great time to catch up on some much needed rest.
Eat the free food and drink the free beer! Need I say more?
Well you already should know that, as an alumni, you are entitled special treatment. Visit the JavaOne site and go to the Alumni area to see what you get.
There are several things I'm anticipating being really good. Session-wise, Grid Computing looks exciting. You will notice there are two main Grid technology camps: Web Service and Jini. If you are interested in Grid computing, be sure to mix up your choices among WS, Jini, technical, and experiential. (I've listed some of my choices at the bottom of this entry.) The Jini Community is also well represented and I plan to attend several of those sessions. There are several sessions on Tiger that are a must see if you are programmer. Any session by Joshua Bloch, Doug Lea, or Jim Waldo will be excellent. Get there early as there's never enough space when these guys speak. J2ME is still going strong, and from past experience, this is usually an interesting track. There are plenty of how-to sessions and big-picture presentations. Usually I find the business-oriented or experiential sessions a bit unhelpful, but this area is different. Specifically, deploying mobile applications is much more than writing code, compiling it, and putting it on a device. If J2EE and Web Services are your thing, then you are in luck (as I'm sure there is a disproportionate number of sessions in these areas). Finally there are the random, hard-to-characterize sessions that you really need to check out.
BoFs. I love 'em and I hate 'em. This year I have one and you will either love it or hate it. The BoFs are all over the map and I'm gonna take 'em as the come.
There are several events I do not want to miss. Number One is the Java Communities in Action on Tuesday 6 - 9pm. This has morphed over the last few years but a few things have remained constant: food, beer, great demos, and great discussions. The communities include Jini, Java.net, JCP, and JXTA. For Alumni, the Fireside Chat is always fun. If you are a member of the Jini Community, check out some of the events posted at jini.org. If you're not, then you'd better join! Finally, follow the Schedule link on the J1 site to see the "After Dark" activities. If you have a free block, and the energy, these are lots of fun.
That's about it. Have a great time at JavaOne, and if you see me, then by all means, introduce yourself ;-)
Sessions of Interest
TS-2387 Wall Street, Grid Computing, and JiniTM Network Technology: Large-Scale Deployment of Computational Resources in a Hosted Environment
TS-1351 Server Architectures for Massively Multiplayer Online Games
TS-3203 On the Road to SOA: Building Real-World Enterprise Web Services
TS-1075 A Practical Guide to JiniTM Network Technology 2.0 - What's New, What's Cool, Tips And Tricks
TS-2369 Instant Messaging/Presence: Next-Generation Implementations and Applications
TS-1313 JiniTM Network Technology and Auto-ID
TS-1054 Extending RMI with Firewall Traversal and Serialization Caching
BUS-3192 Aspect-Oriented Programming: Great New Thing or Great Leap Backwards?
TS-1753 Service-Oriented Architecture for Mobile Devices: Benefits to Device Manufacturers, Operators, End-Users, and Third-Party Application Developers
TS-2614 JiniTM Network Technology-Enabled Service-Oriented Architecture (A Low-Cost Alternative to Enterprise JavaBeansTM (EJBTM) Architecture)
TS-1030 Using JavaTM Programming Language Interfaces to Achieve Network Protocol Independence