For the past few years, Oracle OpenWorld has been quite the event, with tens of thousands of attendees, and the constant speculation-versus-reality of the Sun Microsystems purchase. Since Sun’s acquisition by Oracle, JavaOne has been relegated to a sub-conference of OpenWorld, but that didn’t matter much in 2010 and 2011, when Oracle was there to reassure everyone that it would continue to invest in the Java language and platform.

And Oracle did invest. Last year, the industry received OpenJDK 7, a triumph of open-source engineering combined with Oracle’s development know-how. We were excited to hear that OpenJDK 8 might be here in time for OpenWorld 2012.

OpenWorld 2012 has come and gone, and OpenJDK 8 is not here. Not that this was terribly surprising or even disappointing. But it did make for a fairly dull show. With no really big news, outside of everyone still chittering about closures and their syntax, JavaOne was an uninspiring show this year, with the broad strokes reading APM, PDF and ALM. No new acronyms, no new APIs to play with, and nothing really terrible for developers to complain about. We might even call it boring.

Meanwhile, the Java Community Process continues to slowly revise its tenets, evolving toward a truly open body. But this move, too, was somewhat underwhelming for this year’s event. While the JCP has undertaken a three-step process to fix its ailments, the first two of those steps are fairly small and dull. Thus, even the JCP didn’t have anything exciting to talk about this year.

The one technology that was updated in time for JavaOne was JavaFX. Does anyone still care about JavaFX? With Microsoft Silverlight fading into the distance, Adobe’s Air no longer the hot RIA platform, and HTML5 taking off rapidly, we wonder exactly what JavaFX does, aside from makes video easier to deal with programmatically.

Java benefits from this time of stability after years of alternating frenzied turmoil and downright stagnation. We hope that next year’s JavaOne has a lot more new ideas floating around, instead of just a bland pledge to “Make the Future Java.”

On the road again
When SD Times first began publishing in 2000, product tours were de rigueur. Software companies, flush with cash, would travel the country (and the globe) to visit journalists, with the publicists armed with demos, lunch plans and all kinds of swag. Then the bubble burst, and the economies of the world tanked, and these trips suddenly stopped.

So when editor David Rubinstein took to the road last month to visit the Boston/Route 128 high-tech corridor, it reaffirmed the value of face-to-face sit-downs, of taking the time to understand the trends and the products supporting them, and of building relationships.

A few overarching themes became clear during the trip, which you can read about beginning on page 48 of this issue:

The development tools industry is alive and well. Each of the companies visited were investing big dollars in hiring, research and development, and the requisite space to accommodate the kind of growth they see. One executive we visited even commented that his company’s growth plans were based on actual earnings and not simply projections, although he did indicate those looked rosy as well.

With newspapers full of stories about the collapse of the European economy, the continued flagging of the U.S. economy, unemployment, and debt, it was refreshing to get out on the road and hear optimism about the future. Innovation in the technology sector (not counting Apple, Google and Microsoft, but in smaller companies that created development and testing tools for desktop and mobile applications) might be flying a bit under the general radar, but it is quite bullish.

The other major theme of the trip was in the technologies where these investments are being made. To the surprise of no one, it is mobile device application development and cloud computing. While the native vs. standard argument goes on, it’s clear these companies are betting that developers and their employers won’t want to maintain separate application stacks for different devices and form factors, so their money is on cross-platform frameworks for creating these applications.

They see scenarios in which a large majority of workers will be mobile in the coming year, needing up-to-date applications and back-end connectivity. They’re betting on the need for organizations to deliver line-of-business applications to this mobile workforce in a seamless way, where changes to the app simply appear the next time the application is accessed, with no downloads required. They’re betting on the need to incorporate business-process applications with social-media characteristics, so all members of a team can work on an application together at once, and all members of the office staff can look at and sign off on documents either together or in turn.

It is an exciting time in our industry, with new technologies driving new solutions to make businesses smarter, more efficient and more profitable. As this trip proved, in business and technology—as in life—it’s all about the experience.