Sunday, March 16, 2008


Yesterday I attended the annual Java Developers Conference, held in Cairo, Egypt. This event was the main reason I extended my vacation, so that I can attend it before coming back to Dubai. This is the second year EGJUG (Egyptian Java User Group) has such a conference (apart from their monthly meetings and seminars of course). This years event was WAY better than last year's. Well, let me summarize the event for you.

First of all, Ahmed Hashim, EGJUG's leader gave the keynote of the conference, then he was followed by words from the two golden sponsors, Etisalat Egypt and Microsoft Egypt. Yes, you read it right. Microsoft was a golden sponsor for the Egyptian java developer's conference!

I believe that Microsoft found this as a chance to give a better image to the developers, and show them how good they are. I don't believe that they were supporting java, since I've heard from my sources in a Microsoft parter company, that Microsoft did some pressure on them to stop them from sponsoring the event (both last year and this year). I believe that Microsoft thought that improving their image, and promoting port25 and codeplex is worth sponsoring JDC, but since thew would have gained nothing from their partner companies sponsoring the event, Microsoft pressured them to not do it. Anyway, this post is about the event not about company politics, so let's go on.

After the keynote and the sponsor messages, Ed Burns gave a great session on Demystifying JSF. His presentation slides were divided into two parts, but he gave part one only, due to the time constraints. Ed was followed by Hossam Karim (Software Architect at ITWorx) who is one of the eldest members of EGJUG, and a great contributer to the java community. Hossam's session was on "Enterprise Integration: A Service Oriented Architecture perspective", where he spoke about the methods of integrating different enterprise applications from different vendors together, with the pros and cons of each method. He spoke about the types of integration(information portals, data replication, shared business function, SOA, distributed business process and business to business integration), the styles used (file transfer, shared database, remote procedure invocation and messaging) an then he spoke a lot about messaging with its problems, solutions, concepts and implementation. I believe that it was a really great session, but he needed some more time, because the material was quiet large.

We took a coffee and a prayers break, then we went back for the next couple of sessions. The third session was given by Gisele Consoline from IBM Brazil, and it was titled "Discovering Business Driven Development for SOA". This session was one of the worst sessions I have ever attended in my whole life. First of all, I believe that the title should have been "How to use Eclipse for absolute beginners". The "Business Driven" part in the presentation was a sentence she said in the middle of the session that can be summarized as "before you begin coding, take the requirements from the customers, so that you don't code something different from what the customer wants"! As for the "SOA" part, she was not using just any Eclipse, she was using IBM's WebSphere that supports SOA development! Overall the session was a terrible experience for me, especially I was sitting in the front row, so it would have been embarrassing if I had gone to sleep :D.

The fourth session was given by Pooya Darugar, from Microsoft. I don't know if having a Microsoft speaker was part of the sponsorship agreement or not, but the session was nice. The session was titled ".NET and Java Interoperability" (Notice that .Net comes before java in the title :P). The session was really nice. Pooya had great presentation skills and was able to catch everyone's attention. Afterwards, when I was evaluating the session, I found out that the session can be summarized as this: "Microsoft, along with other companies, standardized web services so that .NET and Java web services can communicate with each other, without the need of customization from the web services developers". As you can see, nothing new was gained from the session, but Pooya used his skills brilliantly to make the people feel that it's a valuable session. At the end of the session, he had a couple of slides promoting Microsoft products/sites/technologies, like WPF, silverlight, codeflex, popfly, etc. Overall, it was a good session, but the gain from it as a technical person was just this: "Web services now can work together without any problems, regardless if they are written in java or in .net", which is why web services were created in the first place.

A lunch and a prayer break, then the final two sessions. The next session was given by Ed Burns (again). I thought that he would give part 2 of the first session, but instead he gave a session titled "Enterprise Grade Ajax and JSF", which was really great as well. The last, but certainly one of the best sessions (if not the best) was given by Alef Arendsen, and was titled "Spring Dependency Injection & Java 5". The session was mainly on the new method of configuring spring beans using annotations.

After that, there was the giveaways raffle, where I won my third free book in quiet a short period. The book I won was given by O'Reilly, and it's titled "Enterprise Java Beans 3.0, Fifth Edition".

The overall experience of the event was great. It's not just the sessions, but also meeting people that I haven't seen in a very long time, like Amal Kheirallah from ITWorx Alexandria, and like Mohammed Hamed, Ahmed Rizk and Mostafa Askar who were with me in college, and who I haven't seen in a really long time.

The main thing that I think could have been improved is the crowd. This year, the size of the event was increased to accept about 600 people, which is great, but accommodating all those people in one place made it impossible to have desks for the people to easily take notes, and the crowd on the buffet during lunch was a disaster. I believe that dividing this event into separate tracks will allow more people to attend the event, and there will be less people in each session, causing a less crowd. The area where the buffet is held should have been larger to reduce the number of people in the queues. Other than that, it was a really great day.