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“We have a responsibility to make IoT accessible” : What we learnt at JAX London day two

JAX Editorial Team

JAX London day two: Cutting through the Java 8 lambda hype, taking on Cassandra, and making the IoT take flight.

Opening keynoter Jamie Allen kicked off the second day of JAX London on a mischievous note, saying that people at Oracle had previously asked to review his lamda-focused slide deck. As it turned out, Allen wasn’t totally opposed to the much-hyped feature of Java 8 – just concerned that people weren’t pushed to apply it in the wrong way. Overall he said, lambdas are an “extremely exciting development in the Java platform”, with the caveat that they were best used to make life easier only on simple functions.

At one point in his keynote, Jamie described Nashorn – the next-generation JavaScript engine coming in Java 8 – as perhaps more exciting than Lambdas. By chance, the talk following was given by Oracle’s Marcus Lagergreen, who has been working on Nashorn. He compared adapting JavaScript’s features for JVM bytecode to fitting a square peg into a round hole. Luckily, invokedynamic (the first new bytecode since 1996, as Marcus pointed out) breaks the constraints of Java call/linkage. Even better polyglot support for the JVM will come with time, he said, with the Da Vinci Machine project providing even better tools.

Over on the Big Data Con track, Dave Gardner of taxi-finding startup Hailo went over the service’s use of Cassandra to fulfil their big data needs. Starting with a PHP+MySQL stack, Hailo’s backend has gradually moved to a Go+Java+Cassandra SOA in order to fulfil a need for greater reliability and global growth. Despite its operational reliability and ease of use, Cassandra is a “slight challenge”, admitted Gardner. In particular, Hailo management were apparently disappointed by the loss of easy ad-hoc querying – somewhat remedied by the use of Acunu Analytics for SQL-like queries.

As part of his talk on asynchronous polyglot platform Vert.x, Tim Fox attempted a live demo that very nearly went horribly wrong (until an audience member reminded him to connect to the wifi). Luckily, it was quickly worked out and Tim was able to show off the impressive new features of Vert.x, including high availability and clustering, each activated with a command-line flag.

The final keynote of JAX London 2013 was certainly the most hazardous of the event, with a member of the audience invited up to take an IoT powered AR.Drone for a test flight across the auditorium. This wasn’t just fun and games though – Darach Ennis was making a serious point about the power of machine to machine technology as something that will ultimately empower ‘everyday’ people to easily network with everyday objects.

Addressing the developer audience, he commented that, as people “who were compelled to code”, everyone in the room had a responsibility to ensure that the IoT is accessible to everyone.

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