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25 October 2011, 16:30

Meet the Speaker - JAX London and Martijn Verburg

Martijn Verburg
The JAX London conference is just days away. The H sat down with one of the speakers at the Java conference to see what's on their mind and what they'll be presenting at JAX London.

The world of Java has been reinvigorated over the past year with the release of Java 7 and the polyglot explosion around the Java VM. Martijn Verburg, one of the many speakers at JAX London and an organiser of the London Java Community (LJC), understands that: "There's between 50,000 and 100,000 Java ecosystem developers in London", he tells The H, making London a hotspot for developer activity. But it isn't all leading-edge developments: "It's a diverse set of people" he says, adding how this is reflected in the LJC membership and how he thinks that this wider community should be better addressed at conferences.

"There's a lot of conferences that have focused on cloud, mobile and multicore", he notes, "but a lot of developers don't have the need for this" – Java is, for many, part of a legacy or well established system. Far from all Java developers are working on new, greenfield projects with new architectures, and what they need to know is how to make effective use of the core functionality of the Java platform. Often, those developers, Verburg observes, say that they have felt conferences have not catered for their needs. JAX London has taken account of this, and has made sure that there's more core content with a Java core day, chaired by Verburg. There will be talks on concurrency in Java, performance tuning the JVM, user interfaces with JavaFX 2.0, OSGi modularisation, an introduction to financial trader LMAX's open source concurrency framework "Disruptor", and a keynote which explores the Core Java roadmap.

For Verburg, catering for those working developers means helping them look at new language features and how to effectively introduce them with no, or at least as little as possible, disruption. That's what he aims to do with his talks at JAX London. Verburg will be presenting two sessions which are aimed at the working developer. One session will be on how to spring clean code using the new features of Java 7. This will show how existing applications' code can be made more readable and durable using something as simple as the Project Coin enhancements to the Java language or the deeper concurrency updates to Java's Collection classes, with an eye on performance. Another session he is presenting is equally focused, looking ahead at what working developers need to know, and will need to know, about Java 8. Rather than working from specifications, the session will look at the code already available in the OpenJDK project.

One of the other routes to more effective software and development is to use the flexibility provided by some of the new JVM hosted languages and run them alongside existing systems. Java, the platform, is a polyglot programmer's paradise and the introduction of support for dynamically typed languages in Java 7 will only improve on that. "Tools like Groovy/Grails are allowing Java developers to create a startup project in a weekend", says Verburg. Rather than weeks or months of more traditional Java programming, it is possible to use a language and framework built for rapid development of CRUD or XML processing applications. The best part is that it's possible to interoperate with Java code or other languages hosted on the Java virtual machine. The platform is so widely used, Verburg reminds us, that there's always an open source library out there to fix Java problems.

Verburg has presented at many conferences in the past year, giving him a good feel for what works and what doesn't. One thing that stood out for him at OSCon, and which JAX London shares, is a high speaker to attendee ratio. At a conference, he feels it's not just the sessions, but the networking between the sessions that really counts, and that high ratio means more informed participants in the networking.

When not presenting at conferences, Verburg is working with co-author Ben Evans on their book "The Well-Grounded Java Developer", to be published by Manning. The book takes a deeper dive into the same subjects of optimal use of Java 7 functionality and polyglot programming; it also adds a look at software craftsmanship to help developers refurbish their entire toolbox of techniques. He is also helping developers and teams continuously skill-up for working life in software engineering. Through a startup called TeamSparq, and again with Ben Evans, they are creating a mentoring and consulting company which hones developer skill sets for modern programming by covering all the practices they don't talk about at university or in traditional training courses.

When he isn't writing or working on the startup, Verburg is an organiser at LJC, the London Java Community. The LJC was elected to the Java Community Process Executive Committee (JCP EC) earlier this year on a platform of more openness and transparency in the development of the Java platform; LJC representatives go to the EC meetings and present projects such as "Adopt a JSR" to bring more people into the process of defining and specifying Java.

And when he's not doing that, Verburg is working on open source projects such as the Ikasan Enterprise Integration Platform, and PCGen, an RPG character generator powered by over 700,000 lines of code.

With a wealth of experience, Verburg is just one of the speakers who'll be worth catching at this year's JAX London.

The H is a media sponsor of JAX London.

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