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A Week at JavaOne: Spotlight on JSF
by Kito D. Mann
21 Jul 2005 17:00 EDT

This year is the 10th anniversary of Java, and I think it's safe to say that Java has been wildly successful as a language and as a platform. I was pretty excited about this year's JavaOne, because I knew that we'd hear some cool announcements, especially regarding JavaServer Faces (JSF).


Monday's keynote was pretty exciting, featuring a band, birthday cake, and a new Java-powered storage format called Blu-ray that will one day replace DVD. In the realm of JSF, Tor Norbye demonstrated Java Studio Creator, Sun's tool for building JSF applications. Creator 2.0, currently in alpha testing, has a lot of new features, including a new suite of components that use Ajax (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML), a Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) style editor, refactoring support, and portlet support. I think it's safe to say that Creator was one of the stars of the show, and it's good to see Sun adding more muscle to its offering. During their keynote later in the day, BEA announced full support for Spring, Struts, and JSF, among others. JSF was a hot topic this year -- there were over 20 sessions on JSF (including keynotes and BOFs).

Personally, instead of attending keynotes and sessions on the first day, I spent the time finalizing the slides for my Birds-of-a-Feather (BOF) session, Exploring the JavaServer Faces Ecosystem (scheduled for the less-than-ideal time of 9:30pm!). I did, however, make it to the show in the afternoon, just in time to catch eBay's session on real-world web services. The presentation spent a lot of time covering the types of applications built using eBay's API, and how developers can reap financial rewards for pushing traffic to eBay's site. Unfortunately, the session was run by a couple of managers who, although quite bright, weren't too familiar with the technical details of eBay's web services platform.

After the session I decided to check out the pavilion, which is where companies showcase their latest products. I immediately ran into Chris Schalk, one of the JDeveloper product managers from Oracle. I've corresponded with Chris quite a bit since meeting him briefly at last year's JavaOne, but it was good to chat with him again in person. We spent some time discussing JDeveloper and the ADF Faces Components, which are pretty hot topics - especially since Oracle has announced that JDeveloper will be available for free.

After taking advantage of the free food available during the evening's reception, we headed to the Meet the Experts event. At the Web Tier table, we ran into Ed Burns, co-spec lead for JSF and Greg Murray, spec lead for version 2.4 of the Servlet API, neither of whom I had seen since last year. We chatted about servlets, JSF, and Ajax, as Greg and Ed have been working on Ajax Blueprints for JSF development. Then I ran into a couple of developers I met last year at Sun Tech days in New York City. Back then they had piqued my interest with the development of JSF extensions that allowed for definition of JSF views using Java classes. This is the same approach taken by the now dormant smile project. Of course, they weren't able to get approval to open-source the framework, and they're no longer able to work on it due to time constraints.

Afterwards, Chris and I headed over to the venerable Thirsty Bear to meet up with some Java bloggers for a few drinks. I got the chance to chat with a couple of folks about the merits of Tapestry, and I also met some of Chris' cronies. (As you can imagine, there were quite a few Oracle employees at JavaOne). I left the bar just in time to make it to my presentation at the Marriot. I was a bit baffled when I arrived though, because there was a huge line waiting to get into the room. As a matter of fact, I was told that the line eventually grew so much that it wrapped around the corner, all the way to the escalators. Needless to say, there weren't enough seats for everyone, and everyone couldn't fit in the room. It was definitely encouraging, given the fact that it was 9:30pm.

During the session I gave an overview of the web landscape before JSF, and the situation I call framework paralysis -- the inability to choose a framework due to the multitude of choices. Then I examined the ASP.NET landscape, discussing how it provides a single, easy-to-use stack, and has a vibrant user interface (UI) component market. After setting the backdrop, I examined the growing JSF landscape in detail, covering the current implementations, components, IDEs, and other products. The bottom line is that the JSF landscape is growing, and since the market size is roughly equal to ASP.NET, we can expect a plethora of additional components in the future. I haven't yet posted the presentation on the web, but I was able to find some excellent notes.

After the session, Manfred Geiler, Martin Marinschek, and Thomas Spiegel from the MyFaces project stopped by. I met Manfred last year at JavaOne, but even though I have frequently corresponded with Martin and Thomas (especially for their In the Trenches article), I had never met them in person. The four of us went out for drinks at the W hotel across the street, and had a nice chat about JSF and MyFaces - until Manfred and Thomas started falling asleep! Whenever anyone starts dozing, you know it's time to hit the hay...

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