Farewell, JavaOne

JNBridge has had a presence at JavaOne every year for the last six years, from giving talks to exhibiting. They’ve been good years:  we’ve greatly appreciated and value the face-to-face conversations about solving real world problems. Back in 2005 we even got to hang out in Microsoft’s booth, and watch the shock and awe as hard-core Java developers witnessed fences starting to mend.

2010 brought a huge transition to JavaOne, as it morphed from its own event in the Moscone Center under the auspices of Sun to a satellite event of Oracle Open World, relegated to a rabbit warren of hotels around Union Square. Despite all the resulting downsides, we had a good show, as we got to engage with what became new customers and help them quickly solve their interoperability pain.

This year, the downsides have tipped the scale, and we decided to pull out. This decision wasn’t taken lightly — backing out of a commitment is a serious, angst-raising business around here. It wasn’t any single thing, but a whole lot of small things that pushed us away.

We don’t wish to sound snarky or petty, but little things matter, a lot. Despite signing on the dotted line to exhibit in 2011 at the 2010 show, we, like the rest of the world, were left in the dark to interpret bits of speculation in the media about whether JavaOne 2011 would even happen.  When it was announced last April, we were left to discover the news on the web — somehow we’d fallen off of the exhibitor email distribution list, and we stayed off.  When we finally woke up and realized what had happened, it was too late — the desirable hotels were booked, and the stress level of trying to get the team into decent housing was the final straw. This was on top of the hay pile of stuff we experienced last year. No media services: the media room was way off in the bowels of the Moscone Center, journalists and analysts either couldn’t find us or couldn’t fit the 15 minute trek uphill into their crowded schedules.

Other downsides weren’t exclusive to us, they impact all attendees. Relegating JavaOne to the outskirts of Oracle Open World forces it to be a bastard step-child — there’s no way a show of what’s now reduced to 3000 attendees can get the attention it deserves while competing for resources against a 40,000 attendee show. Many services, like extended registration hours and evening events, are that 15-minute walk away. The physical location is a rabbit warren – making both sessions and the exhibit floor difficult to find, so everyone struggles just to figure out where they are going. Gone are the chance confabs in the hall. Gone is the ability to walk up to anyone at the party and ask “so, what do you think?”, as in all probability are they are attending a very different event. We maintain that the Java community deserves better.

Finally, we recognize that we embarked upon a costly experiment some years ago. Would spending our resources and our time on trade shows be fruitful? It’s a tough and rather subjective thing to measure. In retrospect it was probably the right decision. But times have changed, and we now need to experiment with other ways to engage. Look for us in other venues in the coming months and quarters. If you have a preferred way of interacting, we’re all ears!

So, farewell JavaOne. We wish you, and the Java community, much success.

Addendum: Wayne Citrin, our CTO, will be wandering the halls the first two days. Give him a shout at @waynecitrin if you’d like to hook up.