JDD 2012

Last week I attended the JDD 2012 conference. Here’s a bunch of very quick notes from the talks.

  • Rebecca Wirfs Brock, Joseph Yoder “Pragmatic, Not Dogmatic TDD: Rethinking How We Test” – nice presentation about TDD, felt a bit like theater (dialogue between two presenters). A few good points to show that TDD is not only about the fast red-green cycle (anyone thinks so, by the way?). Little gem: Use pomodoro specifically to break the flow, take a step back and look at the big picture.
  • Jarosław Pałka “The deconstruction of architecture in times of crisis” – very good talk about applying system thinking to software development. The theory is fairly well applicable to our craft, and the interdisciplinary view helps you see it in different perspective. Briefly explained some pieces of the theory as well as a few concrete examples (tragedy of the commons, boiling frog syndrome). I only found one important bit missing: Theory of constraints. Suggested reading: Thinking in Systems: A Primer.
  • Jakub Kubryński “Microbenchmarks performance in the smaller scale” – difficult choice (in conflict with Jessica Kerr’s FP/OOP talk), but I went for this one since the topic was less familiar. And I don’t regret it. I learned a ton about Java execution model: The role and place of JIT, possible optimizations, and finally the impact on microbenchmarks (and ways to do them better).
  • Sławomir Sobótka “Evolutionary Distillation of Architecture” (in Polish, I took the liberty of translating the title) – introduction to ports & adapters (aka hexagonal architecture). As usually, served in a broader context on thinking about how we code, what tools we use and why we should constantly learn new ones. As always, very entertaining, professional and inspiring. Little gem: If someone only knows entity and service, he’ll go at great lengths implementing everything with just those two concepts. Related reading: Hexagonal Architecture by Alistair Cockburn.
  • Piotr Bucki on cross site scripting attacks – nice presentation on XSS, discussing various ways to protect an application: input sanitization and validation, escaping on input and output, white list filtering for places which need to allow special content (like auction descriptions with limited HTML). Conclusion: Sanitize and validate input, escape everything on output. Careful, include all directions and outputs – validate batch import from files, don’t even trust your own logs (someone could deliberately execute an invalid request to have it logged, and then XSS into your admin log viewer). Solid, though not spectacular talk.
  • Wiktor Żołnowski “Reversed Tests Pyramid – dealing with legacy code” – great idea on approach to testing legacy code that can’t easily be covered with unit tests. Start with end-to-end tests (in bigger number that would otherwise be necessary) to gain some understanding and confidence in refactoring. Write more and more lower level tests as you refactor. Eventually throw away slow higher level tests as they become redundant and invert the pyramid as it should be. Quite fun, felt almost like a BOF session (appropriate for the evening). Hated one bit: Looking down upon the audience and repeating “I moved from development to coaching a few years ago”, “This is probably not interesting to you, developers” etc.
  • Thomas Sundberg “How to fail a software project fast and efficiently?” – pretty bad presentation. Could’ve been fun and sarcastic, but was really shallow and dull. Very little content, no argumentation.
  • Adam Bien “Java EE Future Is Now, But It Is Not Evenly Distributed Yet” – positive suprise! Went there just because I know so little about recent JEE and wanted to see something new. Very professional and dense. On our eyes Adam built a JEE app from scratch that demonstrated dependency injection (including configuration/params), differences between EJB and non-EJB life cycles, JSF, asynchronous execution (comet), event propagation… Very good mix of humor and live coding. Repeat, that was one spectacular live coding. I expected some fanaticism, but got none of that sort – some respect to Spring and others, but actually focusing on showing how JEE became lean and cool, not bashing the competition.
  • Patrycja Wegrzynowicz “Security Vulnerabilities in OpenSource Java Libraries” – stats done bad. Most of the presentation was a view statistical views on data for number of vulnerabilities discovered in various libraries and app servers. Ignoring information on how quickly the holes are patched (or whether there are workarounds known to community), it literally contained information such as over X years 100 issues have been discovered in Tomcat, 20 in JBoss, so Tomcat is much more likely to be insecure. But app servers from IBM and Oracle are even worse, they’ve had more issues discovered over so many years.
  • Hardy Ferentschik “JPA into the Cloud Introducing OGM and OpenShift” – demonstrated an experimental Hibernate extension to persist JPA to NoSQL databases (and deploy that to cloud using OpenShift). Not yet production ready, has some rough edges and I’m not completely sure why you’d want to do that. Anyway – challenging, interesting, well prepared and presented.
  • Gustaf Nilsson Kotte “Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse of Connected Devices” – proposal to use HTML hypermedia as the data format for all kinds of environments. Create a basic HTML model that can be viewed by any browser (leverage the fact that browser can display HTML data in a nice way). That can be used directly as default for most non-critical screens. For more interesting (or critical) areas or environments, use HTML merely as data format and build an app on top of that. We have tools to parse and generate HTML, so why not use it as data format? Very interesting idea – instead of REST and all kinds of unprintable data formats, use a popular format that has decent support and can be displayed by any device. The talk was pretty hard to follow, though – too calm and sleepy.
  • Jessica Kerr “Git Happens” – very good talk on Git to close the conference. No live demos, very good explanation of basic concepts. Not just the happy path, and not overly optimistic. Also, Jessica is an excellent speaker – passionate (sometimes to the point of running, screaming and damaging equipment), but also with a very good plan and attention to detail.

All in all, I’m quite satisfied with this conference. Like any, it had some low points and on one or two occasions I skipped the talks because there was nothing interesting to me in that hour. Feels small and local compared to 33rd Degree, and doesn’t have the community vibe of Confitura, but certainly has its place. Anyway, I learned a few new things, most of the presentations were good and a few were great, so it definitely was worth it.

7 thoughts on “JDD 2012

  1. Thanks for good words, I was really afraid to talk about it in front of developers hungry for frameworks and languages. Regarding theory of constraints, you are right it disappeared from presentation. I have to rework presentation abstract:)

  2. Jarek – not the abstract. I don’t even remember reading it. The presentation!

    There were a few moments where the theory really seemed incomplete because of lack of constraints to me. Tweaking params is not the worst leverage – sometimes it’s the right tool to address poor use of available resources (after discovering a constraint). Not everything can be explained with the balancing loop, and constraints are an important missing bit here.

  3. I think that it is far too much for one presentation, but point taken will review it :). And I have to disagree with you, tweaking parameters is THE worst of leverage points, because many of us tweak them not even trying to understand internal structure of the system, because they give you quick and cheap wins. Look at tax system in this country, government plays with tax levels, percentage and so on, but doesn’t try to improve the system (distribution of money), and it doesn’t get us anywhere near to stable system :(. They are great in a short run, once it is done, we shouldn’t stop there and we should dig and look and try to improve structure of the system.

  4. Jarek – just because something can be abused it doesn’t mean it’s inherently a bad thing. If you don’t look deeper, don’t understand the big picture and only know how to use the hammer, yes that is an issue. But it’s not an issue with the hammer.

    I bet nowhere in the world the inertia and complexity are as big as in politics. That’s why in this field it’s usually tweak or rewrite from scratch. :-)

  5. Agree, but I found it easier to change peoples mind by saying it is “bad” then trying to explain them that “this is not a hammer”. I still don’t why it works better in our industry :)

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