JavaOne 2016: The Dark Side

In the previous blog post I promised to describe all the bad things that were on JavaOne 2016, so I will keep my promises. Please take into account that all the statements listed below represent just my humble opinion, nothing more, and for other attendees everything could work like a charm. As some smart people say, you need to properly manage your expectations in advance in order not to be disappointed afterwards.

First, a focus on an attendee’s satisfaction. It was actually absent. All Ukrainian conferences which I had visited, a few conferences in Poland or Devoxx BE 2015, were oriented to an average user in the first place. This was evident in the tiny details: a service of lunches, coffee breaks, qualitatively selected talks that were held simultaneously, well-planned arrangement of rooms (the biggest rooms allotted to the most popular speakers, smaller rooms to less popular ones, etc.) and the absence of great events in parallel (talks did not overlap with lunches, parties or, for instance, Duke’s Award Ceremony). My main message is that you have to adjust to the conference, not a conference will adjust to your needs and expectations. Every time you had to make a choice: to eat your lunch when it is most convenient for you, but potentially miss a talk, or instead of listening to a great talk to go to a private party, or you can communicate with a speaker after a presentation and not have enough time for the next one, or spend conference time in the exhibition hall (as it is opened only during traditional business hours), instead of spending it in the conference rooms, and so on. A turmoil, a bustle, a lot of context switching. Also, I better not say anything about quality of lunches. I can rephrase it — people who do not like the organization of JEEConf, JavaDay and so on, should visit JavaOne at least once to experience how much better our conferences are in terms of user orientation.

JavaOne 2016 Campus Map
Interesting discussions occurred in the exhibition hall too, for instance by Baruch Sadogursky, but you had to make a choice where to spend your time

Second, the scale has its price. Since the talks were presented in two hotels and a conference hall, a lot of time and effort was spent on shifting from one place to another. So instead of enjoying a friendly conversation with a speaker or other participants during a break, I always had to think where next talk was going to be and hurried to another place. For my health that was certainly quite useful, but the actual taste and focus of conference was blurred.

Store was empty only during the talks, otherwise it was fully crowded with attendees

Third, the level of talks. As I mentioned before, it is all about correct management of my own expectations in advance. I expected a top level in everything: in a talk itself, in presentation skills of a speaker, in the quality of slides and technical depth of demos. I was very wrong. There were a bunch of weak speakers with terrible slides, poor spoken English and primitive demo. At the top Java conference in the world. How did these people get there? For me, it was a mystery as they were not associated with any commercial product. That was probably my biggest disappointment of the entire conference.

Fourth, sponsored talks. As some sponsors had a few slots for their own presentations, these talks could be quite useful, but also could turn into dumb PR sessions of their products. PR products from Oracle, PR from Dynatrace, and so on. Once I realized that a talk was completely sponsored or dedicated to PR of a particular product, I immediately got up and ran to see something else. Andrii Rodionov told me once that I should not select a slot based on a cool title but based on a particular speaker, and eventually I realized that was really the right strategy.

Example of dumb PR of Oracle products

Fifth, pre-registration for the talks. Since there were many attendees, you had to make your own schedule in advance via a provided official application. Thus, before a certain talk, pre-registered attendees formed a priority queue to enter the room first and only afterwards attendees from another ordinary queue had a chance to enter the room if there were any seats left. Usually, there was no chance at that point. An issue was in the application itself, as it was extremely buggy, had poor UX and sometimes it just deleted your previous schedule by accident. Also, you needed to re-login every couple of hours that was quite annoying too. In addition, there was no synchronization between a desktop and a mobile versions. So, the initial idea to create my perfect plan eventually failed. Oh, Oracle, that was the worst advertisement of your products and quality of delivery.

Screenshot of “user-friendly” official JavaOne 2016 application

Sixth, Duke’s Award. For me, before the conference, this award had been something like Oscar is in the world of cinematography. But when I saw the actual awarding ceremony, if I may call it so, the way the award was handed, to whom and under what circumstances… That made me sad. How to do your best to spoil any good award? Obviously, you need to give it sneakily, without any explanation and reasoning about achievements that led to the victory, who the competitors were, etc. Of course, afterwards, there will be a nice shiny blog post and everything will become a history, but the essence is spoiled for me forever.

Duke’s Awards were handed on this mini stage, about ~50 people were actually present during the ceremony

Seventh, recording was missing in some conference rooms. So, you won’t be able to find some of the talks online after the conference. Oracle spent a lot of time and money on renting rooms, on different parties, appreciation event, but forgot about the most important outcome of any conference — spread knowledge to the masses. Looks like a nonsense to me.

The last, but not least, lack of enthusiasm about future of Java EE. I will not start a big discussion of the topic in this blog post, but the known fact is that the platform is in a shitty state right now and the conference was the best place to inspire people and put huge confidence that Oracle cares about it, thinks about it and so on. Some speakers tried to spread the internal enthusiasm and fresh ideas, but the way this particular topic was covered, presented and advocated during, for instance, a keynote, it’s just an absurd. Sorry.

That’s it about JavaOne’s dark side, stay tuned for more technical outcomes.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.