Experience Report from JavaLand 2017
More than rollercoasters
I really like going to software conferences. I get the chance to learn new things, to meet other developers and to discuss code and software architectures. And of course, I like JavaLand because of its rollercoasters. :)
BSI has been present at the JavaLand conference since its inception in 2014 with the goal to present our open-source framework Eclipse Scout to the participants. During these events I stopped counting the number of many times I explained the Eclipse Public License (EPL), why we decided to host the Scout framework with the Eclipse Foundation and what benefits we get in return for our project and for our company. And particularly, that Eclipse is not just an IDE but an open source community of a very broad set of projects and collaborative working groups in the domains of internet of things, science, embedded systems and many other interesting areas.
Being in charge of our booth, I not only tried to answer many questions, but also to give a lot of demos. For this I used the Contacts application, a simple Scout application you can build in a day that has enough features to provide a good overview of the framework. A second use case for the demos was starting from an empty workspace and coding a simple “HelloWorld” project.
If the visitor showed interest in Scout and wanted to see more, we went through more Java code or the general architecture of Scout applications. With the Scout framework the user gets a lot of nice features out of the box (tables with advanced filters and organization possibility, nice widgets like our date picker for example).
Sometimes, visitors were also curious about specific details: «What happens when the connection is slow or lost?» «Can the user settings be persisted somewhere?» «Why do we need an @Order annotation on top of our inner classes?» «Can the Scout framework be integrated with the Spring stack? I could answer all of those questions, expect for this one: What does "NLS" in our "NLS Editor" mean. Well, now I know. It means: National Language Support.
At a conference like JavaLand, I expected to see more developers that are using other IDEs than Eclipse, but I was happy to see I was wrong. For example, I could help an Eclipse IDE user that was wondering how he can distribute a customized version of Eclipse in his company. I gave him two pointers:
A lot of people asked me how we make money out of the Eclipse Scout project and who is paying for the development of new features. Well, I think, it is important to be transparent and to explain our business model at BSI: We have donated the project to the Eclipse foundation and we continue to invest in the project to develop our commercial application on top of it. So, explaining the role of the Eclipse Foundation as a business friendly platform for open-source projects was an important argument.
I remember two visitors, who had already used the Scout framework. One of them was involved with the CRM of one of our customers at BSI. The other one tried to use Scout about two years ago, but the desktop client was not what he was looking for. So, last year’s change of the Scout user interface to HTML5 was good news for him.
Last but not least, Tuesday evening at JavaLand was great: I was able to relax a bit from the conference rush at our booth and I could enjoy a beer with some of my colleagues from BSI who visited JavaLand for educational purpose.