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2008: A Developer's Retrospective

12.16.2008
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 I have been making New Year's resolutions for a long, long time. I don’t even remember when I actually started making them either. Yes, it has been so long. However, I never made resolutions which I couldn’t keep at all. I might have not succeeded in all of them, but I did sincerely try achieving those.

Now that we can see the end of this eventful year, I thought it would be interesting for the DZone community to share a few hits and misses of 2008.

Read on..

Meera Subbarao, DZone Contributor

My first goal for 2008 was to find a new job. I was looking for a job which was challenging and interesting. When I got the opportunity to work as a consultant, I whole heartedly accepted. I was worried about the switch from a developer to a consultant; however to my surprise the transition was fairly smooth.

Inspired by watching speakers like Andrew Glover, Scott Davis and many more speak, my next goal was to speak at conferences. I was very excited to finally get the chance to speak to my fellow software developers at the SD Best conference in Boston, MA.

I also wanted to learn and use new technologies. Even though I knew how to write Groovy code, I never got the opportunity to apply it in real applications. Thanks to some new projects, I was able to apply my knowledge in writing Groovy and I was also able to customize some of the tools. I also had the opportunity to write enterprise application using EJB 3.0 which I really enjoyed.

Now coming to the goals I missed. I always wanted to learn Maven; I even tried to use it a few times. I first tried to use Maven was when I reviewed the book “Java Power Tools”. It was a simple project, and everything seemed to work fine. However, I failed miserably when I tried using Maven for a few other examples. Instead of persevering through my problems I gave up.I started out wanting to become an expert on Maven; I ended up being just another Novice. Are there any Maven experts willing to help me?

Up until my spell of laziness, I read about 2-3 books a month. Starting in about October, I began to lose interest in reading and reviewing books. But I do hope to reverse this trend in the next year.

An incredibly busy year, 2008 was filled with travel, new jobs, conferences, local presentations, and lots of writing and blogging. This is my short but honest retrospective of 2008.

I am sure you all had an exciting year as well. So now it's over to the other zone leaders to see what goals they were able to achieve and what goals they weren’t able to achieve.

 

James Sugrue, JavaLobby & EclipseZone Editor

My goal for 2008 was to get more involved in the community. Thanks to Rick and Matt I was able to become a part of EclipseZone, and later JavaLobby. This has given me the chance to speak to a lot of influential people in the industry. The highlight of the year has to be my trip to Eclipse Summit Europe, where I got to meet the project leads, and members of the foundation, in person. Next year is looking very promising for EclipseZone as a result.

Apart from that I've been trying to keep up to speed with two of the main factions in Java - SpringSource and Eclipse. The Eclipse stuff has been easier, as it applies to my day job. There are so many projects out the in the Eclipse ecosystem, and so much coming up on the horizon. I've been lucky enough to have the opportunity to work on an EMF Refcard with Ed Merks, which will be available to download early 2009. The amount of technical books I read has improved, and I've been able to review at least one book a month. It still doesn't stop me coming back to The Pragmatic Programmer every few months!

Looking back on the year on JavaLobby, JavaFX has been the big news story of 2008.It really seems to be split in to a "love it" and "hate it" camp. After seeing the 1.0 release though, 2009 looks very promising for Java rich client applications.

On EclipseZone, OSGi/Equinox seems to be stealing the show, and rightly so. There's so much power behind OSGi that I really want to get this covered more in 2009.

 

Geertjan Wielenga - JavaLobby & NetBeans Zone Editor

Too many things happened this year to mention. It was really busy, entertaining, and educational all at the same time.  The top three personal highlights that spring to mind would be (1) writing documentation for the VisualVM APIs, (2) teaching the NetBeans APIs in way more places than I thought I'd ever visit this year, (3) the NetBeans Demo Camp in Munich, which focused purely on presentations by users of the NetBeans Platform, about the applications they've developed on top of it. The common thread among these three highlights is that they all involve getting to know APIs, which is something I really enjoy doing, especially if I'm one of the first to do so, giving me the feeling of being some kind of explorer in unknown territory! (Yet another highlight was attending the Java Day in Bratislava recently.)

(In the category "what did you do this year that you'd never thought you'd end up doing?" [admittedly a category I made up right now] I'd have to say: teaching the NetBeans Platform at a university in Manila, Philippines, during a very enjoyable time there with Tim Boudreau, ending with a taxi ride through hurricaned streets to the airport.)

Those three areas were definitely the highlights, on a technical level. In addition, I've had the opportunity to dip my toes into a very wide range of technologies this year. The two that surprised me the most are Griffon and JavaFX. They surprised me in that they approach an old problem in a really new and creative way. Of course, the problems are different, though both are desktop technologies. JavaFX, which I only started playing with a week or so ago, is just plain fun. That's just about its best feature. It feels like you're playing some kind of game, while you're coding, and when you run it you have something that's very visual and that would have taken forever to have created in the standard Swing way. I wonder how much up take Griffon will get, though, given that it's in a pretty tight space: tools are needed (hey, I'd better finish that NetBeans plugin sometime), otherwise it won't take off at all.

The opportunity of working on DZone has again been great, of course. Working on DZone, you're really exposed to way more areas of development than you would have been without it. You get a much broader perspective than you would otherwise have had, and I've really gained a lot from that.

The biggest downside has been that there's just too much to learn, all at the same time. So it's kind of hard to get any deeper knowledge because by the time I'm two weeks into one new thing, another new thing looms on the horizon. Also, I'd like more time for reading some of the books that have come out (a related downside were the e-mails from publishers pinging me to review the books they'd sent me for that purpose).

And what will 2009 bring? I believe, firstly, a further increase in requests for NetBeans Platform trainings. We're really going to have to farm out a lot of those requests to community trainers, i.e., non-Sun folks who have more direct experience of using the APIs anyway, so that'll be a good thing all round. Secondly, I predict Grails and Wicket are going to continue being used more and more. OSGi and EJB 3 (the latter not least because of Adam Bien's promotion of it) are two other technologies that will continue being used ever more widely. Workwise, I will be focusing on documenting more end-to-end instructions for business scenarios on the NetBeans Platform. On the side, my main aim will be to really get a very detailed API-level knowledge of JavaFX.


Aslam Khan - Architecture Zone Editor

The year 2008 started off with one massive bang!  The year kicked off with co-hosting a software architecture workshop for some amazing geeks (and good friends) from Europe in South Africa.  It turned out to be a great mixture of geek-speak, geek-think and safari - not the browser but the wild animals :-)

Q108 promised to be really exciting as I was speaking at TSS-JS in Las Vegas in April, only to have my US visa delayed.  That forced me to miss the conference and that was really disappointing.  Suffice to say, I now have a 10 year US visa which was given to me 6 weeks ago.  Adequate compensation was being given the opportunity by Nitin and Rick at DZone to take on the challenges of the Architecture and SOA zones.

The first half of the year continued with an really challenging technical project that involved desiging metadata systems for statistical analysis.  Really abstract and really challenging.  That project became a source of many ideas for blog posts, articles and conference presentations.

The biggest downside was that I was spending 5 days a week away from my family with a 2 hour flight to get home on weekends.  That eventually took its toll and I changed jobs in October.  I now have a completely new challenge - build the South African branch for the my new company.  It's challenges like this that I never anticipated but am really looking forward to in 2009.  November turned out to be the highlight when I spoke at the Oredev conference in Malmo, Sweden.  It was really nice to meet old friends and to put faces and voices to blogs and emails.

So what am I looking to do in 2009?  Well, Meera may be great at resolutions, but I suck at them.  I like themes more.  So here are my themes for 2009: bring domain driven design more into the mainstream (watch out for some DDD on architecture zone soon), figure out the alt.net crowd :-), write less code to do more, get functional and have fun while doing all of this. 

 

Masoud Kalali, Architects Zone Editor -

2008was one of the most challenging years in my career. I was heavilyinvolved with redesigning a software system which involved integratinga set of commercial and proprietary products with a group of looselyintegrated open source products. I started writing a book for Manningpublications around GlassFish application server and finally I findmyself involved with visualization which was a good experience.

Nextyear, 2009, will be a very critical year for me, both in terms ofcareer and living, as I will be permanently relocating to anothercountry. I think the changes in culture and life style will be pressingenough to keep me
away from other adventures. I will continueworking as a software architect but in different conditions and out ofa different office. :-)


2009 will also be a year of promisesfor me. I plan to dig more into OpenSolaris, virtualization and systemintegration. I also plan on studying the Amazon APIs in greater depth. I have worked out an outline for another book which I am thinking towrite in 2009, but to what extent I can follow the writing task, I amnot sure yet.

I am a mountaineer and a climber, I love reachingpeaks and looking all around the peak to see the beautiful scenery thatonly can be seen from the mountain top. I will certainly be searchingfor some 5000+ meter peaks in 2009.

I like reading :-), not onlythe technical books, but also cosmology related books. I think at leasttwo books, including "The Universe Before The Big Bang"will keep mebusy during the train or air times.

Some general wishes which Ihope to see them on track during 2009: first of all I hope to see theworld with less aggression and war or better a year with ceasefire andpeace in all fronts. The second wish is to see more research on makingmankind independent from oil toward clean energies.

 

Schalk Neethling, Web Builder Zone & .NET Zone Editor

2008 well.... I am not really the resolution making kind of person so all and all it was a good year. :P But for real though, I started out in 2008 looking for solice and security in the form of a permanent job. I was soon to find that, for me personally, I felt that I got stripped of my personal freedom, get told what, how and when to do something and communication and suggestion followed a clear top down approach. Not surprisingly, it was not for me.

In early June I quit my day job and went back to what I have done for the 5 years before then. Only this time, I am approaching it in a different light. I have been involved with the folks from DZone for a long time and I am now in the privileged position to have become Zone Editor of the Web Builder Zone as well as co-zone leader of the .NET zone.

During my stint in the corporate world I got sick of hearing that standards and accessibility are just not that important and that the cost to make a web site/application accessible does not justify ROI. Being the Web Builder Zone Editor gives me the unique opportunity to extend my passion of educating and informing an even wider audience and I intend to make real use of this in 2009.

I am also proud to say that along with a good friend of mine I founded the non-profit The South African Web Standards And Accessibility Group to educate and excite developers and businesses and started a consultancy to aid businesses with the implementation of what we teach in their business.

One thing my wife always nags me about is, "Schalk you have so many ideas that can really work but, you never turn one of these into a reality". So recently I launched a network of sites to inform tech
enthusiasts about tech events and help event organizers market their events to a very targeted audience. For 2009 I am planning to build out my consultancy and non-profit to raise even more awareness by educating, organizing, implementing and being part of events. At the same time I want to focus on building out the tech events network, making the web builder and .NET zone end up in the top 5 zones for 2009 and more ;)

The voices in my head does not take a holiday so I am looking forward to launching some of the many wacky ideas running around in my head in 2009. Wishing everyone a very successful 2009!" 

Alvin Ashcraft - .NET Zone Editor
 
I am fairly new to DZone, so I'll keep this brief.
 
2008 was a really busy year for me. My blog readership really took off this year, going from almost no subscribers to nearly 1000. I also started my association with DZone this year. Everyone here has been really great to work with as I have ramped up. At PDC 2008 in October, I had the opportunity to meet many of my peers in the .NET community. I have also been busy in my full-time position as a software engineer. The company I work for recently pushed out a release of our enterprise healthcare software.
 
For 2009, I have several goals. First, I would like to help generate some interesting, orginal content for the .NET Zone. I want the .NET community to be buzzing about DZone. Next, I would like to become more active in several Philadelphia user groups, Philly.NET, BarCamp Philadelphia and Philly ALT.NET. I also intend to become fluent in WPF and Silverlight development in the months ahead. Finally, I have three small software projects of my own that I hope to get off the ground this year.

Published at DZone with permission of its author, Meera Subbarao.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)

Comments

Martijn Verburg replied on Tue, 2008/12/16 - 7:30am

Hi Meera,

I won't claim to be a Maven expert (I doubt many people will ever hold _that_ title) but I/we do use it a fair bit to build and deploy our EARs (which contain SARs, RARs, WARs and JARs) so I might be able to help out.

Firstly have you read <a href=http://www.exist.com/better-build-maven>Better Builds with Maven</a> or <a href=http://books.sonatype.com/maven-book/reference/public-book.html]Maven the Definitive guide</a>?

We used the first one in particular to get us up and running quickly (the 2nd one is new to me but apparently is the latest definitve book on the subject, written by some of the Maven devs).

Maven has improved our practices and code quality enormously, I definitely found it worth learning :)

Meera Subbarao replied on Tue, 2008/12/16 - 9:13am in response to: Martijn Verburg

[quote=karianna]

Firstly have you read <a href=http://www.exist.com/better-build-maven>Better Builds with Maven</a> or <a href=http://books.sonatype.com/maven-book/reference/public-book.html]Maven the Definitive guide</a>?

We used the first one in particular to get us up and running quickly (the 2nd one is new to me but apparently is the latest definitve book on the subject, written by some of the Maven devs).

[/quote]

Martijn, thanks for pointing me to these resources. As I mentioned, I wanted to read and review the seacond maven book, was too lazy to even signup. 

I will keep you posted.

Meera Subbarao

Ahad Bokhari replied on Wed, 2008/12/31 - 3:22am

Hi you all.  Good to see peeps busy learning new technologies and actually applying them to practical situations.  It's been a decent year for me and i just picked up on Rails a month back or so...After using the framework for a little while i don't think i can ever go back to the s*** side of the force!  Of course php and other ss technologies have there pros as well.

We are looking into a Flex project with a Rails backend so Maven might just come in handy here ;-).  Bringing Flex into Rails wasn't as difficult as i thought, and the fact that i could get a small app running in 10 minutes says alot about how the two technologies interact with each other.

I was just wondering, as there seems to be alot of talent on this blog (indeed!).  Have you all ever successfully built a scalable Flex/Rails App before, or gotten your hands dirty with it in any way?   Any insight or brief discussion would be greatly appreciated.  

Wishing you all a very successfull 2009!  Merb and Rails baby, Merb and Rails..... 

 

 

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