In previous years, JAX London would have been an easy, local conference to go to. This time it took me most of Sunday to get there, and not because of the Super Storm. Still, that gave me the day to finish off the tutorial I was running there on Monday morning. Not that I would be so unprofessional as to leave preparing things until the last minute, oh no....
But as in previous years, the main benefit of this conference for me was meeting most of the usual suspects from the London Java Community. For example, presenting were: Andy Piper; Barry Cranford; Jim Gough; Peter Lawrey; Sandro Mancuso; Simon Maple; Martijn Verburg; John Oliver: John Stevenson; Richard Warburton. The Community Night in particular also drew a lot of LJC members (including some first-timers) to JAX, and it was a really good "networking opportunity" (i.e. chance to have free drinks, catch up with friends and make new ones). I really enjoyed hanging out with everyone at JAX this year, I was tempted to write the names of everyone I spoke to and had fun with because it really made my conference, but I think that would make a very boring blog post. But if I spoke to you at JAX, you made my journey from Spain worthwhile, thank you.
As well as the LJC-types, there were some other really big name speakers too, including MongoDB's Chairman Dwight Merriman. Highlights for me were:
Ted Neward's talk at the community night about being a CTO at a startup. It was really interesting, and nice to see a realistic view of the difficulties of that role.
James Governor's keynote on how Java got its Mojo back. I like seeing facts and figures to back up a viewpoint, and as you'd expect from the founder of an analyst firm, this talk was full of them.
As James mentioned during his talk, the audience at JAX was, as in previous years, somewhat passive. I'm not really sure why, as around 50% of the audience came from outside the UK so we can't even blame English reticence. And in a conference full of outspoken LJC-types, it seems an odd thing to have an unresponsive audience. Maybe it's the venue, the main hall in particular seems to lend itself to sitting quietly in the audience and expecting to be entertained.
I presented four times at JAX, because, well, on home turf one ends up doing more than one expects.
Firstly, a tutorial on the new Java driver for MongoDB (more on this later);
Secondly, a clinic for novice speakers. This was a lot of fun, and I think it was useful for everyone. I'd love to run this again (I probably will at the LJC Open Conference). The aim is to give new speakers confidence, not focus on details like building a slide deck.
Thirdly, the third time out for my "Design is a Process, not a Document" presentation. It's a relatively interactive presentation, which I don't think worked so well at JAX, but it's a fun presentation to give.
Finally, not only did I get roped into being on the panel for "How to start a community" at the community night, I ended up, somehow, moderating it. That was fun, it was the first time I've been a moderator, it's a role I usually avoid as moderators ought to limit the amount of talking they do, which doesn't sound fun to me.
The tutorial materials are available on GitHub. I haven't provided a lot of guidance on how to get started online, but the exercises are there, and the slides which present the concepts and suggest the order to tackle the tests in. If people use these materials, please feel free to give me feedback on them, but be nice - they were designed for an in-person tutorial, not an online one. But it is a good way to get a feel for the new MongoDB Java API (in its current, unfinished, state).
So, JAX London - great speakers, and a good conference to meet not only Londoners, but a lot of international people too.