The modest duo

Interview with Adam Bien and JetBrains

German born Adam Bien has been a major influence in the Java space for many years. Last month Adam was rewarded with the Top Java Ambassador title at the JAX Innovation Awards in San Francisco, an award that he fully deserves. We interviewed him after the event; find out what he had to say:

This is quite an honour as the communities worldwide have voted for you to win this award, how do you feel?

I really wanted Bruno Souza to win; he’s one of my Java heroes. I even nominated him! I still cannot believe that I am the winner, beating Bruno! To be an Ambassador is such an honour, which I'm not sure I really deserve. Whenever I go about my work, I never think about the “Ambassador” aspect of it, I’m just trying to improve the way we do things one step at a time.

Tell us about your work with JEE and how you have played a part in its growth.

I have been using J2EE and Java EE since their early days. I have always enjoyed working with Java EE and consider it the most productive and effective platform you can currently get. Parts of the community consider Java EE as a bloated and outdated technology. I never understood this -- in my projects Java EE was never a problem, I always struggled with ivory tower driven architectures designed in a top down manner. I hope I contributed something to eliminate some popular, but crazy cargo cult practices.

Java EE is a very popular technology -- there is no evangelism necessary. Every day I get more and more requests for Java EE 6 consulting from small start-ups.

When many were against JEE6, you were extremely interested to prove that it was a good tech stack. What was it about JEE6 that you saw before a huge majority of other developers?

What I saw in Java EE? That's easy: simplicity. In "lightweight" projects, developers often reinvented the wheel by implementing parts of Java EE in a home grown fashion. In extreme cases 500 MB WARs were deployed into 10 MB web containers and the result was called "lightweight". I never got that.

I use Java EE successfully in my projects and my clients like it. I didn't want to convince anyone about the good parts of Java EE, I usually talk about what I do and why it works. At one of the conferences I forgot to create the slides (it was JAX Frankfurt / Mainz!), so I had to open the IDE to present how Java EE feels from the source code perspective. The audience liked it, so I was fortunate, it could’ve gone the other way.

You are part of a variety of communities from NetBeans Dream Team to an Expert Group member of the JCP, tell us about some of the major projects that you have worked on in the past that have had an impact on the ecosystem.

I'm actually a lazy contributor! I'm just a synchronized singleton shared between conferences, workshops, articles and projects; as a result I’m a lousy contributor. I try not to waste my time on unconstructive criticism instead I try to improve the world in a step-by-step process.

NetBeans is also an interesting story. It is a great Java EE IDE. You can install it in a few minutes by downloading a file with a single click. You will get not only an extremely productive IDE, but a whole Java EE 6 environment with GlassFish, fully configured DerbyDB without any plumbing. I usually use NetBeans during my talks and workshops to explain Java (EE). People always assume that I work for Sun because I use NetBeans that often :-).

What are your plans for the next year?

No idea about next year, but when I retire (if it ever happens) I would like to still spend my time hacking. Software development is the best job ever.

Thank you to everyone for the votes. I really appreciate it! The prize money is going to be donated to "Doctors Without Borders" or similar organization.

Thanks for interviewing me!



Anna Kent

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