The first keynote of the Jazoon conference was presented by Danny Coward. He mentioned that we were close to the 15 anniversary of Java that was officially announced May 23 1995. On the historical side, he also showed us a nice video of James Gosling demonstrating in 1992 a prototype running on what will become Java. The interface looks very close to what you get now on an iPhone.
He discussed the current evolution of Java towards its version 7. There has been a lot of work on the modularity side, removing as much as possible the dependencies between the Java modules. Parallelism has also been improved and will now for instance be used by most of the garbage collector activity. More than 100 languages are now running on the JVM. The Da Vinci project goal is to improve the efficiency of other languages on the JVM. Finally, some small additions are made to the syntax to simplify the language. JavaFX release 1.3 was also announced in May, the fourth release in the last 18 months. Performance has been improved and new UI components have been added. For those who want to see it in action, Danny pointed us towards the web site of the last Vancouver Winter Olympics, more precisely the geographical view of medals.
The next two sessions that I attended were both about Java and Flex. In the first presentation, Adobe Evangelist James Ward did first a small introduction to the Flex technology. Then he showed us how it was easy to connect a Flex front end with a Java back end using different protocols (http, web services) and benchmarked their relative speed. All his demos are available on http://www.jamesward.com/demos/. You can check the insurance one for a small taste of what a nice Flex interface can look like.
The second presenter, Florian Müller, put a different perspective on the marriage between these two technologies with his experience on a large project that was involving both of them. The development of the application can be very easy, but the maintenance is more difficult as functions can be performed either at the client (flex) or server (level). Architecture rules have to be defined very well and synchronization between the server and the client is not easy to maintain. Flex 4 solves part of these problems, but the proposed life cycle (Photoshop – Catalyst – Flex) does not work well when you have go backwards and redo some things. In the tools that you can use to link Java and Flex, he recommends Granite Data Services as an open source application that provides good power.