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No Fluff Just Stuff - Boston Fall 2012

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A couple of weeks ago, I went to No Fluff Just Stuff Boston (in Framingham, MA). This was my 4th time going and as always I find this a great conference to go to. It’s focus is around Java based technologies but also gives you a look into newer technologies. You will find talks on noSQL, languages on the JVM like Scala and Groovy along with talks about lifecycle management for your projects. I can guarantee that you will find a talk that you will be interested in listening to.

In past years listening to conversations in the hallways along with the presenters, I’ve gotten a strong impression to learn other languages on the JVM like Groovy and Scala. This was from the point of view that people should consider switching to, but this time around it was more of a push to learn Groovy/Scala to help understand the things that are coming in Java 8.

With Java 8, there is a good number of functional programing elements coming. Things that you may already find in Scala and Groovy. The idea is to learn how these other languages handle this to help get a better understanding of the things coming to Java 8. Think of this as learning by using deltas, by giving you something to compare to, you just need to identify what is different. I feel this a more positive view then before. This is not telling people to jump ship, but to use these other languages as a tool to help learn. This was what I took away from the Keynotes from Venkat Subramaniam at the first night.

I always find it hard to pick the sessions I want to go to. There are so many good talks going on at the same time. I also find myself switching after finding a presenter that I enjoy listing to. This alone could help me decide on two sessions that I’m debating about. This is something that happen this time around after going to Developing Next-Generation Applications, I ended up picking to go to some other talks by Craig Wall as I wanted to learn more from him.

In Developing Next-Generation Applications, Craig Walls talked about some new ways to layout web applications. This talk for me falls inline with what we have been seeing in the Javascript world. More of the application is running on the client side using Javascript and backend servers are becoming just REST APIs. I think this is a great approach as the API can be used by any type (Web, Mobile, and Desktop) of applications you build. Also, the API doesn’t become a secondary thought as it’s now the primary part of your application. This could also give a great starting point for a public API so people can build 3rd party applications. I think a great example of this is LinkedIn’s Mobile application which uses the same API that anybody has access to.

Craig also did a good number of talks on Spring base technologies like “Building Web Applications with Spring MVC”, “Spring Data”, and “Securing Spring”. Craig works for SpringSource and is the project lead for Spring Social so he is a good authority on Spring. I didn’t go to the Spring Data talk, but I did catch his other talks. It was good to see the setup of a project along with the changes over time from older versions of Spring MVC and Spring Security as far as configurations and features.

One of my favorite talks was Thinking in Functional Style by Venkat Subramaniam. Functional Programing has been around for a long time but when it came out it was ahead of its time. Languages like Erlang (1986), Lisp (1958) and Haskell (1990) which have been around for some time use functional programming. Why is functional programming coming back? It’s helping people solve issues they are having with Object-oriented programming like scaling your code to run on multi-core systems along with giving code that can easily be reused along with being testable. Venkat shows a number of examples of OOP vs. FP code. In all the cases I’ve found the Functional code easy to read and reason about. For myself, Functional Programing will be something I keep my eye on. I have also set out to learn Scala which I feel is a sweet spot of being both a OOP and a FP language.

Overall, I had a great time at No Fluff Just Stuff, I feel that this is a enriching conference that I would recommend to anyone.