March 16, 2016

Javaland 2016 Conference Report

It has already been a week since Javaland 2016 started on Tuesday March 8th. Javaland is 3-day community driven conference in the amusement park Phantasialand in Brühl, Germany. I had the fortune to attend the conference this year and speak about Asciidoctor on the first day with my talk "Writing documentation in Asciidoctor is Awesome". The code and examples from the presentation are on Github. Also my colleague Rob Brinkman was at the conference for this talk about "Westy Tracking (turning a VW van into a Tesla)" and his presentation is online as well.

What I really liked about the conference is a lot of technical talks about all kind of Java subjects. Even for a non-German person there were a lot of talks in English to follow. Also the atmosphere was very nice, people are approachable and in between talks there was a nice community and sponsor exhibition room. The organization uses the knowledge and experience of 29 JUGs from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. And then the location is also great to have a conference. The amusement park wasn't open for the public so we as Java developers had part of the park for ourselves. The location of the talks were partially in theaters and in business rooms. And at Tuesday night we were allowed to go on rides as well. (Remember: first rides, then eat and drink, if you alter the order you might get in trouble).

The first day started with an explanation about the program, talks, different community events from the organization. Next we attended a session about how to visualize relations between Wikipedia articles from James Weaver. He showed a Spring application backend with an Angular frontend running on Cloudfoundry. Next up was Rob Brinkman with his excellent talk on how he added electronics to an "old" VW van, so he could save his trips and tracking information. He showed the software architecture he used with Vert.x 3, Redis, Java 8 and Angular to make it all work together. It was time for lunch and that was very good organized. A lot of different things to choose from and it tasted very well. After lunch we attended a short talk about streams and reactive programming that was very informative given by Jan Carsten Lohmüller. In the afternoon we stayed a while at the community floor and stumbled upon a nice small presentation from Andres Almiray about a JSR for desktop applications. The setting was very informative and I really liked this aspect of the conference. Furthermore we attended a session about Lombok to reduce the boilerplate code in Java presented by Roel Spilker and Reinier Zwitserloot. Bert Jan Schrijver gave a good presentation about performance testing with Gatling. He even did live Scala coding on stage! Gatling looks like a very nice tool to define scenario's for simulating multiple users accessing your application.

At night the park was open and some attractions were open, especially the roller coaster rides. Also there was a good diner organized at different locations.

The second day of the conference started for me with a talk by Josh Long about Spring Cloud. The Spring Cloud project has a lot of very useful subprojects to work with microservices in a distributed manner. Even though the session could only last 40 minutes Josh managed to show a lot of cool stuff with live coding small applications. At lunch time I attended a good talk which started with a cool Lego demo by Johan Janssen and Martin Kanters. They managed to control Lego trains and a fairy wheel from their browser. And it all worked as well. They used Akka on Raspberry Pi's to make it all work and explained the software architecture.

After another tasteful lunch I learned more about monads in Java 8. Normally this is a very theoretical subject, but presenter Oleg Shelajev did a good job and showed real code on how monads appear in Java. The last session of the day was about using Groovy as a system scripting language by Andrey Adamovich. He showed the cool stuff of Groovy to make as script developer so much easier. Instead of relying on Bash or another script language, just use Groovy and all the Java libaries we already know.

The final day of the conference was a tutorial/workshop day. I attended a Vert.x 3 workshop given by Jochen Mader. Although it was in German I could still follow it very well. He presented some theory and then we could make small exercises in Vert.x 3. Then we would look at possible solutions for the exercise given by Jochen. I learned a lot during this day.

It was the first time I went to Javaland and it was a very good experience. The location, the organization and the content are all excellent. Although I already know I cannot make it next year, I still want to come back during the next years.