Oracle OpenWorld 07 was held in San Francisco from 11-15 Nov. The event is one of the biggest technology shows in the world, showcasing the latest in the Oracle software space. The conference was held at the Moscone Center combined with several hotels nearby. The event this year included specialized tracks for developer content, JD Edwards, PeopleSoft, Siebel, Hyperion and other Oracle acquisitions.
The thing that’s most interesting about the conference is that techies who normally turn their nose up at anything that seems like product promotion, actually pay Oracle to listen to talks about Oracle products. For the first 2 days, I was mostly at the developer track. Sessions here discussed what’s up and coming with Oracle Fusion Middleware products, ADF, JSF, Ajax components in ADF Faces and JDeveloper. Oracle ADF has been the path that Oracle recommends for Forms developer to get into JavaEE. With many ADF Faces components being added to ADF, ADF continues to be an easy add and customize component approach for JavaEE development.
JDeveloper has been my preferred IDE for several years, and it has continuously improved in that time period. However perhaps because many Oracle Middleware products are now based on JDeveloper, the progress of the core IDE seems to have slowed down. Having to constantly ensure integration with Oracle’s SOA and other Fusion products might be the reason for the slow down. JDeveloper has many great features but it still doesn’t have the richest or fastest interface. The JDeveloper 11g beta is available for download but it still seems some way away from a final release. Many speakers had to be apologetic about the sluggish performance of the beta releases of JDeveloper and Oracle Application Server, which certainly did not go down well with delegates.
Oracle has steadily increased it’s presence in the Java world with its Fusion Middleware products as well as contributions to various Java projects. It seems committed to that path. Many sessions highlighted Oracle’s contributions particularly in the JSF and the EJB space. Oracle has been at the forefront of JSF component development and it looks like that trend will continue through contributios to Apache MyFaces. Oracle seems to be gradually moving its entire range of Middleware and Web products towards Fusion middleware and the Java EE stack. Apart from Java, there was surprisingly little noise about Ruby, Rails and scripting languages in general.
One of the striking things about Oracle events, is the higher average age of the delegates as compared to any other event. Also most delegates seem focussed on one Oracle products skills . Oracle enjoys remarkable loyalty from users and there are people who have spent decades working on particular Oracle products. The majority of delegates at the conference seemed from a DB or Forms kind of background and seemed uncertain about Java EE. Although the nature of the audience does drive the content, I thought there was too much of Oracle product specific stuff and too little of generalized technology content.
Surprisingly, at JavaOne 07 as well as OpenWorld 07, I haven’t come across anything that seems very exciting. Ajax was perhaps the last big thing to hit the web development world. Things have been quite cold since and that’s not great news for the industry, considering that it thrives on constant change. Virtualization seemed like the only topic on which there was buzz and some excitement. Virtualization is about running multiple operating systems and multiple applications on the same computer at the same time, increasing the utilization and flexibility of hardware. Most if not all major vendors are coming up with virtualization products, many of which were showcased at the conference. However it’s still unclear if and how virtualization will affect developers.
The exhibit area had 100s of company booths. A number of Indian services companies like TCS, Satyam, Wipro, Zensar and Infosys also had a significant presence at the event. In the long lasting tradition of such shows, every booth had at least one freebie to give away.
Entertainment at the conference included a concert that had Billy Joel, Lenny Kravitz and Stevie Nicks playing simultaneously in three arenas. Cool! There were also evening parties with interesting themes on most days. However like most other events at Moscone Center, the vegetarian food standards were again remarkably low. Also veggie food was not even marked at the evening shows, so was never sure of what to pick. As we have learned from our experiences at the IndicThreads conferences, a hungry participant is a very risky thing to have around. OpenWorld surely had one such participant and that one now tells the world about it :-).
Larry Ellison is perhaps one of the very few who take questions after addressing 1000s in a keynote. For a good minute or two after his keynote on the penultimate day, there were no questions! Even Larry was surprised by this, but I guess it just showed that OpenWorld 2007 was overall a mature and stabilizing kind of event rather than one throwing up new challenges and questions.