Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Prose and Conferences: Devoxx 2009

Many people are wondering what the deal is with the EU and Oracle in the whole Sun acquisition thing. I’m going to put forward a new theory: it’s about conferences.

I just recovered from my trip to Devoxx, where I gave talks on Flex, effects, Adobe tools, and the Flash platform (and attended talks on various other topics). I realize that many of you reading this may not have had the pleasure of going to the conference. In fact, doing the math, it’s pretty darned improbable that anyone went: with about 3000 attendees vs. 7 billion people on the planet, there’s roughly a 99.99996% chance you didn’t go. So maybe I should give a brief intro.

Devoxx is an annual developer conference in Antwerp, Belgium. The show is typically held at the coldest, most miserable time of year to allow attendees to concentrate on the most important thing: Belgian Beer. Oh, and there are lots of good technical sessions on software development (Java, Flex, Android, build tools, libraries, processes, etc.).

It’s a great conference and a really good time (despite the weather). In fact, you can check it out for yourself at, which is a Flex app (with an optional AIR application for offline usage) hosting all of the sessions from the conference in full multimedia glory (video, slides, and demos). The sessions from 2009 are not available yet, but like last year they will be posted starting in January at the rate of about 2 per week, online and free.

In the meantime, there is now a for-pay option with parleys; if you want all of the content now, you can pay 49 euros (about $75 today, but given the relative stability of the dollar, it could be $2500 tomorrow, so act fast) to have full access to all sessions for 6 months at Yes, they’re trying to make money; after all, it costs money to put on this great conference and record/produce/host all of the content. But since the content is still free in the same way it always was, I think it’s a pretty great compromise.

(By the way, nobody asked me to plug the site; I just like to support the team that puts on a good conference and provides so much great information for developers).

But back to my original point: is it a coincidence that the second-largest Java development conference is in Belgium … a mere 40 miles away from the EU headquarters in Brussels? I believe that the EU stalling of the Oracle deal is nothing less than a conference takeover bid by Europe, trying to wrest the power away from the annual JavaOne conference. Sun’s annual conference is usually in full planning mode at this time of year: they’re closing the Call for Papers, choosing speakers and sessions, massaging the messaging, choosing theme colors and Dukeration kitsch to sell in the conference store. But this year … nothing – it’s all on hold pending the acquisition debate between the EU and Oracle. In the meantime, Devoxx put on a good Java++ show.

So in my augmented reality, it must be the case that Devoxx lobbied the EU to stall JavaOne so that Devoxx could become the world leader in Java-related conferences. Sun will rue the day that they made JavaPolis change its name…

[okay, maybe not. And I really like JavaOne, too, and not just because the weather's better. But Devoxx is a good conference. Try to go next year if you’re in the area and have a thick coat. And check out the sessions and cool Flex app on]

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