A Java Weekend in Washington @ JDJ

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  I spent my first ever Weekend in Washington DC attending the index.jsp" />NoFluffJustStuff software symposium and in addition to seeing the nation's capital for the first time, it was also my first ever NFJS event. We have reviewed this conference series a number of times in JDJ and each review has been better than the last.

  Thoughinvited to come along and talk at this series a number of times peviously, due to scheduling and other thingsbeyond my control, we couldn't get quite coordinated. I have been intrigued at the reputation and buzz this relatively small conferencegnerates and so was very keen to check it out first hand for myself.

  The man behind this beautifully honed formula, Jay Zimmerman, invited me to deliver the opening keynote. This was my first taste of the conference and the format allowed me, as a speaker, to get closer to the audience and involve them in the talk. This I noted to be thekeystone of every session.

  The 4 tracks on offer were packedwith 90-minute sessions delivered by on the whole recognized authors in the field. The speakers delivered multiple sessions throughout the 3 days and I observed an interesting side effect as a result:on the first day, the audience would be fairly quiet and not speak up too often, waiting until the end to ask their questions. However, by the time the audience had seen a speaker twice, allinhibitions were gone; people were speaking up sooner with a more relaxed tone.

  This was something I'venot seen before from larger conferences, and something I feel benefited the attendee greatly.

  So enough on the format, was there any actual content? The short answer to that one is a resounding yes.

  Sometimes software conferences have a tendency to teach on what is coming tomorrow as opposed to what you can use today. All useful stuff, but in many instances you are taught and introduced to material that your development team can't really utilize the day they get back to the grindstone.

  The NoFluffJustStuff conference was refreshingly current, arming developers with techniques and tricks they could utilize now, while at the same time giving them a peek into the not-so-distant future. Something else I witnessed at the conference was the honesty of the speakers: they didn't pretend to know everything and I feel the audience appreciated the fact they were just one of them.

  I sat in on sessions from Dave Thomas on his series of "Pragmatic Programmer" talks looking at some techniques for testing and basic software management. Through his talk I discovered the very thing thatI have been doing for a number of years has a fancy name! So that was encouraging. But Dave's session took me deeper and gave me some great ideas for improving my current testing environment.

  Another talk that I personally gained a lot from was the "introduction to Aspect Orientated Programming" given by Rod Bodkin. This was not a high-level talk but a real world, you-can-use-this-now, type of talk. It was light on theory and heavy on example.

  I think that this criterion could be applied to this whole symposium:90 minute sessions packed full of real-world applications that you can take away and make use of.

  Thelitmus testof any conference is simple: if it should come around again, would you go back? in my case, I can't wait to get to my next one.

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