JAX India 2007 – Bangalore day 3

Below is the coverage of todays sessions and my takeaways. The slides for all presentations are available here.

JSF and AJAX : Best of Friends (by Craig McClanahan, SUN Microsystems)

  • The motive was to convey various means of achieving AJAX while using JSF. Though all means are workarounds in my opinion. JSF specification should have built-in support for AJAX. It lost out in this front because of the delay in finalizing the specification and AJAX peaking up during the same time.
  • The means are : (a) DIY (Do It Yourself) (b) Use JSF components with native AJAX (c) Wrap client side JS libraries (d) Make non-JSF calls to the web server.
  • DIY – Most JSF components have JS event methods. Leverage that along with own JS methods and XMLHttpRequest or other client side JS toolkit like Dojo, Prototype or Scriptaculus. Involves lot of work. Implementing page refresh might be tricky.
  • JSF with native AJAX – Components take care of making async calls and updating DOM. Simpler to use. Loads of OSS and commercial ajaxified JSF components available. e.g ADFFaces, MyFaces, etc
  • Wrap JS libs – Strongly suggested Jmaki which wraps different client side AJAX libraries like dojo, prototype etc.
  • Make non-JSF calls – You can choose to use any of the AJAX libraries and make them talk to a servlet directly instead of going thru the JSF life cycle. Handling the component tree update will be tricky.
  • choose any of the above options based on whether you need to keep the component tree in sync with the DOM updates.

Should you adopt/migrate to Struts 2.0? (by Harshad Oak, Rightrix Solutions)

  • Provides an overview of new features of Struts in 2.0 release. Its basically like Struts 1 + WebWork = Struts 2.
  • Features include annotation support, interceptors through servlet filters, convention over configuration, derive method name from URL, concept of value stack, new tag libraries, a Guice based minimal DI container to integration with Spring, no form beans etc
  • Integration points for Spring, AJAX frameworks like dojo, GWT etc.
  • Package names now contain com.opensymphony.*.
  • Migration from Struts 1 to Struts 2 is difficult because of such drastic changes but migration from Webwork is lot easier.

My opinion – its a mess now, it is dieing. The code code sample he shown looked lot messier, a result of merging two frameworks. The author himself seemed directionless like the framework and mostly tried to highlight that the framework supports all the buzz words in web framework market these days. Guess Webwork is banking on Strut’s image now to sell itself. 😦 Pity for both of them. Good for us (developers) since we have two frameworks less to worry about now.

Can tools improve even a power geeks productivity? (by Craig McClanahan, SUN Microsystems)

  • Brings out the point that geeks who like playing with their good old editors using the combination of hot keys and the keyboard, can be more productive if the IDE has appropriate features.
  • Few features that makes a java IDE good are – documentation lookup, refactoring, real time debugging, unit testing support, version control support, database administration, deployment, generate boiler plate and plumbing code, allow maven / ant structuring, integrate runtime dependencies, heterogeneous programming language support, generate skeleton OR mapping and support for popular frameworks etc.
  • Demonstrated Netbeans IDE supporting these features, though he named Eclipse in the context. So i would not say that we was solely pushing the SUN product by throwing a catchy session title.

You can’t just buy an Open Source community (by Neelan Choksi, COO Interface21)

  • This talk was to highlight that all the commercial vendors taking the open source route to stay in business will not succeed. They can not buy the community by open sourcing their products e.g OpenJDK, OpenJPA, JBuilder etc etc.
  • The only sensible thing he talked about – Community is the most important factor in success of open source projects. You need to build community and their are few approaches to do that.

Otherwise the talk was complete waste of time. More focused on picking up failures from rivals and quoting Interface21 as the rightest thing to ever happen. The less you write about his presentation skills, on stage persona and language command the better it is for Interface21. An instance of catchy title but patchy content. 😦

Why is everyone so excited about Ruby-on-Rails (by Neal Ford, Thoughtworks)

  • Title says it all – marketing of RoR. However i still wanted to attend to see whats inside RoR. And to be honest, i was taken aback, throughly surprised with zillions of questions shooting here n there in my mind.
  • Few features – RAD development (they mean it, needs to be seen if it works in enterprise apps), agility, instant feedback, OR mapping via ActiveRecord, no compile/deploy etc, scaffolding, testing generation, web 2.o support etc.
  • Follows standard folder structure which helps in getting rid of configuration files, making safe assumptions. Generates method code at runtime based on need.
  • Recommends Streamlines, a 3rd party scaffolding library.
  • Admits it slowness now but expects drastic improvements in next release.

my thoughts – this is a completely different way of developing web apps. Given the productivity features and all the buzz around it, i feel the time has come for a try on it for an agile development project.

SOA: The future of distributed computing? (by Neal Ford, Thoughtworks)

  • I am not a SOA fanboy but attended it since none other parallel session were any better. Not sure if i followed him properly but i guess he started with bashing SOA and ended with the note that it has the best chance to work this time for distributed computing.
  • One should download the slides from his website and go thru it. Its pretty humorous and informative at the same time.

Overall, one key point to note is that the audience is much more patient and lenient while listening to the established speakers as against the local ones. I had expected more skilled and professional audience since most of them are at architect or designer level. But few basic ethics like allowing the speaker to cover the topic before asking ahead or out of context questions, things like limiting conversations to certain iterations etc were clearly missing and thus few of the sessions were reduced to mere show-off events than for knowledge exchange.



  1. Admits it slowness now but expects drastic improvements in next release.

    If I heard right, Neal did not say RoR was slow. He said RoR running on JRuby inside a servlet container (or JRuby in general) was slow.

    I agree with you that the audience should let the speaker make her point and _then_ ask questions.

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