Sunday, June 12, 2011

Random Walk Down NFJS (2011)

Long-time readers know that I am a big fan of No Fluff, Just Stuff. There are many posts on this blog regarding reviews, keynotes, pianos, and so on.

Often, I start writing a "random walk" post, intending it to be quick and whimsical, but I end up writing a full review. This one will be quick, otherwise it won't be written, alas. Here we go...

I returned to St. Louis (again!) in May to attend the Gateway Software Symposium. As you can imagine, it was fantastic to catch up with old friends in a familiar environment. Just like old times.

Code As Proof

I attended Venkat Subramaniam's talk on concurrency without pain in Java. The talk was all-code with no slides. A few small examples began with "synchronized and suffer" (his phrase) model and scaled through various techniques, including locks, STM, and actors.

All interesting stuff, but I was especially taken with the elegance of the examples. If you've studied math, you may know the minimalist charm of a proof: there is no excess fat; everything is a direct line from A to B. As a presentation style, Venkat's talk recalled that spirit. Every example added one element to get to the next point.


HTML5 officially has my attention. I saw a few talks, and was taken especially with Nathaniel Schutta's session on mobile jQuery. As someone who is notoriously divided on choosing Android versus iOS as a development platform, this blew my mind. A unified UI experience for mobile! I'm still trying to get my mind around the idea (and how to monetize it in the various app stores).


The headline: Apache applies Sonar to its projects, as shown here. Matthew McCullough's talk convinced me that this isn't merely a collection of code metrics. With experience, I think a Sonar guru can transcend the raw data and see interesting patterns over time, such as the impact of summer weather on code quality (!). This is a Freakonomics-like enabler.

Crafting Software

Two paraphrased thoughts that really stuck (I hope I've captured the essence).

One from Peter Bell, along the lines of: on initial estimates for a project, give enough time to do the minimum spec, and include time to polish based on feedback from the first cut.

From your friend and mine, Ken Sipe: two major problems with software teams are (1) poorly defined acceptance tests and (2) dysfunction in the daily stand-up. When someone with Ken's experience distills things down to two items, that's powerful stuff.

And The Gradle Will Rock

Ken also spoke on Gradle. I'm a fan, and gave an intro talk back at GSS May 2010. The interesting story here is the growth. There is a lot of industry momentum here, and the training/book offerings are ramping up big-time.

Where's The Groovy!?

I caught Venkat's talk on Spock, and liked it very much. I didn't catch any Groovy or Grails talks, only because I'm very familiar with them. It was interesting to reflect on the history of these technologies. Grails has been 1.0 since Feb 2008! They grow up so fast.... *sniff*

Anapestic Tetrameter!

Nothing stresses me out like poetic meter (pun intended). It is one of a handful of high-school subjects that I just Could Not Understand. When I saw Tim Berglund's tweet that he was working in anapestic tetrameter, I shivered out of reflex. Gah!

Then, at NFJS, Jay Z showed the video. All is forgiven. Tim crafted an ode to Kent Beck's Implementation Patterns. Vote for Tim's vid on DZone. Vote it up on YouTube. It is wonderful.


This may sound like trite, blanket statement, but I can't mention everyone. The weekend truly was chock-full of heartfelt re-unions and conversations, on many levels. See you again soon!

1 comment:

Estelle said...

For my part every person should read it.