Greatest hits

JAX London day two roundup

The final day of JAX London saw just as much excitement as the first, with talks ranging from NoSQL databases to Clojure to (whisper it) Windows 8 development. Read on for our pick of the lot (or check out our coverage of Steven Poole and Patrick Debois’ keynotes).

Black Duck’s Dave Gruber provided a whistle stop tour into the realms of open source in ‘FLOSS - Your New Best Friend’. The audience, none of whom contributed to an open source project but were heavy consumers, learnt that Java was leading the Ohloh catalogue breakdown, which has validated 550,000 open source projects.

Gruber told us that only 17.3% of these were active, and half of that number were considered to be run by teams, showing great diversity within the open source ecosystem and searching for what you want was even easier. Gruber also divulged the indicators needed to pick the open source project for you, with particular focuses on the array of licenses and vulnerabilities, and using the open source ethos for inner sourcing. (cm)

GitHub’s Tim Berglund gave a packed-out talk entitled ‘NoSQL Smackdown 2012 Edition’, although he noted that he considers NoSQL to be “a bit of an unfortunate term”, and that in a few years his annual talk will simply be called “Database Smackdown”.

Berglund talked the audience though each the data model, scale idiom, methods of querying and license of Cassandra, mongoDB and Neo4j, while adding his own comments on which situations they are best suited for. Cassandra, he said, scales well but is difficult to use, and so“if you don’t have a scale problem, you don’t need Cassandra”.

Regarding MongoDB, meanwhile, Berglund said that it was a joy to use but that with “higher-scale problems, I don’t hear any happy stories”. “It isn’t like your father’s database,” he said, “it’s more like your young uncle.” Unfortunately, Neo4j didn’t quite get the same attention due to time constraints, but it was clear that Berglund was passionate about the most radically different database of the three. (eb)

If you have never used Clojure, but would like to get started with it, then John Stevenson’s presentation – Clojure Made Simple – would have been perfect for you. As Clojure is a modern Lisp for the Java Virtual Machine, it’s that perfect language to go to if you want to try something other than Java. John successfully introduced Clojure as a way to start thinking in a functional way, before moving on to the similarities and differences between Java and Clojure. A thoroughly interesting presentation, ideal for beginners! (ak)

Matthias Wessendorf of JBoss provided a runthrough of the different options developers have to choose between when developing web-based apps for mobile devices. He divided the client sides mobile apps into four categories: web-based, hybrid (web app in a native wrapper), hybrid+ (with access to native APIs and capabilities) and native, discussing the strength and weaknesses of each.

He then demoed a single-page application showcasing HTML5 technologies, both in the browser and as a native iPhone app as part of an Apache Cordova project. Going into further tools for developing HTML5 apps, Wessendorf praised backbone.js and other similar frameworks, but also highlighted vanilla.js, the satirical framework consisting of zero bytes. “Sometimes the vanilla tools are good enough to use,” he said.

As with many sessions, Wessendorf’s talk could easily have gone on for another 30 minutes - meaning that he was left with little time to discuss AeroGear, the project he’s developing within JBoss. But don’t fear, JAXenter readers, because we’ll be covering AeroGear in a feature in the coming weeks. (eb)

As the ranks thinned, the day finished for some with Ted Neward’s talk on developing Windows 8 apps using HTML and JavaScript. Preceded, as per usual, by epic music, the talk first went over what is Windows 8, and a few tips on developing its new form of apps, which run web pages within native wrappers.

This weird combination of web and native was described by Neward as feeling “a bit like Frankenstein’s monster”. (“Maybe we should call it ‘Ballmerstein’s Monster’?” read a note on the slide.) Showing the audience around the new Windows 8 UI, Neward was cutting. “If you walk away with nothing else [from this session],” he remarked, “Windows key + I gets you the power button.”

Neward also speculated a little on why Microsoft has made such a departure from their standard languages for the new platform. Conspiracy theories of Microsoft trying to destroy the web are “kind of bullshit”, he said - this is more about attracting web developers to bulk out their app store.

Unfortunately, he added, “contrary to everyone’s expectations, there is no big ‘port’ button”. (eb)

Elliot Bentley, Chris Mayer and Anna Kent

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