There were some great talks at the 2nd London Java Community Unconference, organised in association with the Apache Software Foundation. This was my first unconference (what is an unconference? It is defined on Wikipedia as a “facilitated, participant-driven conference centered around a theme or purpose”) and the topics ranged across core Java, languages other than Java on the JVM, upcoming releases of popular products and much more.
I attended Mark Thomas’ Tomcat 7 talk. It’s always nice when you have a talk like this given by the release manager and main committer to that project – an old version of his presentation can be found at http://people.apache.org/~markt/presentations/2009-11-04-50mins-Tomcat7.pdf. Richard Paul gave a very useful talk on “Agile Acceptance Testing: Cucumber, Groovy and Selenium2” (his slides are available at www.rapaul.com) and Richard Donovan added some interesting points on Risk Based Testing. This topic was of particular interest to me at the moment as large Agile projects (>20 devs) seem to require more QA than smaller ones. This may just be a reflection of the complexity of the domain and the project but while I doubt that there is a silver bullet for this, ideas like BDD and RBT can definitely help. The discussion led by Wolf Schlegal on “Going Functional in the JVM” showed that there is a lot of interest in this area but also highlighted that not too many people have actually used functional programming languages in anger and have managed to get them into production environments.
After a short lunch break a round of lightning talks (5 mins – no more) covered Kanban, the benefit of fast feedback with open source, a personal experience of how unit tests can be useful in making developers think about their code before they write it, running a ‘dojo’ event, XSS and OSGI analysis tools in Apache Aries. Barry Cranford was there as the friendly face of recruitment and took an open session of “Ask your recruiter anything”. I’ll admit that I sloped off at this time due to other commitments but I had a great day.
It was my first unconference and while one might think that you could potentially struggle for topics, the reality was that there were more than enough talks to fill the rooms. In fact, the organisers did a great job in separating out the topic threads so that there was minimal overlap or clashes of related talks and I walked away with a lot to think about. Thanks to all the organisers and speakers for a great day.