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Wicked Good Development Episode 30: JUG, AKA the JAVA User Group

March 28, 2023 By Kadi Grigg

28 minute read time

 


In our latest episode, we sit down with Steve Poole (Leader of London JUG | Director, Developer Relations, Sonatype), Frank Greco (Founder of NYJavaSIG | Director, Technology and Strategy, Crossroads Technologies), and Sharat Chander (Sr. Director, Java and Cloud Native Product Management and Developer Relations, Oracle).

Java user groups (JUGs) have seen changes over the years due to the growing prominence of Java and a continuously maturing audience. We’ll be revisiting the late 90s/early 2000s when JUGs first started appearing. Listen in for answers to questions like: 

  • What was their purpose? 
  • What are they now?
  • Why are JUGs a valuable community resource?
  • How has the pandemic changed them?



Listen to the episode



Wicked Good Development is available wherever you find your podcasts. Visit our page on Spotify's anchor.fm

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Transcript

Kadi Grigg (00:12):
Hi, my name's Kadi Grigg, and welcome to another edition of Wicked Good Development, where we talk shop with OSS innovators, experts in the industry, and dig into what's really happening in the developer community. Today, I'm excited we're talking all about the Java User Group or more affectionately known as JUG. So, here with us today, we have a panel comprised of Frank, Steve, and Sharat. But before we get into it, let's let the guests introduce themselves. Frank, you're up first.

Frank Greco (00:36):
Hi, Frank Greco from the New York JavaSIG the first Java User Group ever, back in 1995.

Kadi Grigg (00:45):
Steve?

Steve Poole (00:46):
So, Steve Poole. I work for Sonatype developer relations, but I am a leader of the London Java User Group, which is the big one in the UK. And like Frank, I've been doing Java since it was knee high.

Kadi Grigg (01:00):
Okay. And Sharat.

Sharat Chander (01:03):
Yeah, I'm Sharat Chander. I'm part of the Java team here at Oracle, but it was really the User Group program that helped start my journey into this role way back in 1995 -- I'm dating myself now -- and I've had the privilege of actually organizing and supporting Java User Groups for close to 20 years amongst my other Java product and community responsibilities. So, I pinch myself every day going, "Do I really have this role?" And I do. And I'm pretty honored to be part of it.

Kadi Grigg (01:38):
We're glad you can be with us today. So, let's dive in. A few months back, I was actually speaking to another developer advocate in the community, Pratik Patel, and he was telling me about how Java User Groups first got started. And I'm not sure if many people nowadays, millennial and that version below will understand this, but can one of you walk me through how Java User Groups got started?

Frank Greco (02:09):
Well, I can give you the story of how we got started. It might be a little bit different than how JUGs in general got started. ButI guess back we're talking 25+ years ago, I was working at Bell Laboratories, and we were doing all kinds of interesting Unix and C work, and I was running a special interest group, back then we called special interest groups "SIGs" back then. And I was running the Unix and C SIG of a local PC group. And I joined the Sun user group, because there's all these cool technologies that people were speaking about like graphics and new types of hardware and user interfaces and servers. It was really, really cool. So, I joined that group, which was based in the Bay Area, and just found it fascinating.

Frank Greco (02:58):
And then there were all these other talks, big-name speakers. And I used to get these postcards in the mail saying that this great speaker is going to speak and said, "Wow, where is it?" It's in the Bay Area. That next talk was in the Bay Area. Next talk was in the Bay Area. So, it was a workstation vendor executive came to New York one day. New York was a big market for this workstation vendor. And I asked him, "Why are they always only in the Bay Area?" And his response, and he was a very senior person, said that, "Well, because there aren't any real programmers in New York." And so the WTF bubble went over my head, and I said, "You know what, I'm going to start a user group." And I said, "I'm going to start a Sun user group in New York." So I found a friend who was at Morgan Stanley, and he was a big proponent of Sun Microsystems. They said, "I can get you the auditorium in Morgan Stanley if you run it." I said, "Sure, okay." So, we started meetings, and then over time we built up, and we got more and more people. And then Sun was very popular, and we had a really nice crowd. And then here comes Java in '95. And it looks pretty interesting. Let's have a special interest group of the Sun user group -- of the New York Sun user group that was focused on Java. So, we did that. But then over time, the interest in Java went up and the interest in system admin things was basically going down. So, we said, "You know what, you guys are talking about the same things the Linux group is -- why don't you join the Linux group and talk about sys admin things and Unix?" So, that's what happened. But we kept the name the Java SIG because it was a SIG of the Sun user group. And that's why we're not really a JUG. We're a SIG. It's just for historical reasons. So and then we just got more and more people, and then we were up to 8,000, 9,000 people. And then of course, it happened a few years ago with attendance and meetings. And now we're trying to get back to where we were from then, but that's the history of the New York.

Steve Poole (05:04):
Yeah, that's really awesome. I mean, as always with these things, when you look back at the history of this and you go, "Why did we do this in the first place?" Because I think one of the things we've seen with things like the pandemic and things which have made us rethink how we interact, how we communicate, and people forget what JUGs are for or special interest groups are for. So, Frank, when you started this, you were obviously going, "I can't travel to California to watch these things," but you were always seeing all this stuff come around. When you did the first one, I'm really interested when you did the first Java SIG, how many people turned up?

Frank Greco (05:44):
That's a good question. So, I gave the very first Java tutorial by a non-Sun person back in '95 at the first -- at Java's opening in New York at the Equitable Center. And I said, "If anyone's interested in a special interest group, but part of Sun user group, let's meet that afternoon." Four people were there. So, we had four people, and it grew and it grew from there, but it took 20 to 25 years to get where we were. So, it was quite small, and a few meetings with the weather -- weather has a big role in attendance at meetings, and if the weather's really bad or if the weather's really good, your attendance drops.

Steve Poole (06:25):
Yeah, well, so four isn't too bad. I mean, I've done some JUGs meetings during the pandemic and after where we were going "Four's pretty good." And because everything's changed because of the way the world works now, which is something we can talk about later. But for me, when I look back at how the JUG started, there was this enormous buzz and a lot of it came from -- we were all learning this new stuff together. And there was this great passion to just share the latest thing about, "Did you know it can do this?" And did little tiny things that people would share. And there was something about not only being at the leading edge of all this technology as it came out, because obviously there was a lot more happening than just Java that time, but there was this real sense that the user group was helping people learn and was really keen on that.

Steve Poole (07:21):
And when I look back at the London Java User Group -- no, I didn't start it. It was started by Ben Evans and Martijn Verburg and actually by a recruiter who's still running it -- a friend of mine called Barry Cranford. And I was talking to him about why don't we do this in the first place? And it was the same thing, which was we should be sharing, and we should be helping people learn these things. And I think that's still true today. But would you agree that's what JUGs are for? Or do you think there's more than that?

Frank Greco (07:49):
So I agree a thousand percent Steve. I think when I was going to that original Sun user group meetings, and I would travel -- no, I would get my employer to pay for the travel to Mountain View. It was the community. It wasn't just like reading about something with a technology or hardware or software. It was sitting down next to, talking to people who were writing code that using the latest library using a new GUI library or talking to the person that created the library directly and asking questions, "Why did you do that? Why'd you do that?" And finding out from them face-to-face and with other people around us. So, it was this community and that was not just in technology, it was the community, everybody helping each other learn about things. And that's always been important.

Steve Poole (08:37):
Again the face-to-face stuff. I have many instances where I can remember people, like two people sitting side-to-side with each other, desktop IDE, talking, and then there'd be some, "Oh no, use that IDE button" or "Did you know about this tool?" And there's such a sort of osmosis of sharing. And I would really like to get that back. We really, for those of us who've seen how the user groups have grown and have been involved in a long time I don't want to lose that. And I feel that we sort of have to find a way to remind people about these things, because otherwise it's just people sitting watching YouTube videos. And yeah, fine, you can learn stuff from that, but actually there's a whole set of other stuff you're missing, and we should be doing things to do that. So, one of the things I'm interested in talking to everybody on this call is what should we be doing in 2023 to increase the buzz and help the user groups that maybe have been struggling to get it going? What can we do to help? Which is obviously why we've asked Mr. Chander to come along with you.

Sharat Chander (09:44):
Well, what should we be doing in 2023? I have to pinch myself. 2023? Boy, years are passing by fast. It's no different than what we were doing-- and when I say we, I'll explain -- what we were doing in 1996. So, similar to Frank, I didn't join a Java User Group program at that time because there wasn't one local to me. My first experience real formal experience with Java was in 1996, and that's when I had the privilege to join some of my coworkers from Verizon, because I was actually on the east coast at the time as well and very close to where Bell Labs was. And you were part of the -- Frank, your company was part of the company that provided us some of our infrastructure and equipment that we used in some of our switching stations all on the Eastern seaboard.

Sharat Chander (10:40):
And long story short, some of our team went out to learn about this new thing. It was like this promise that it could help solve many different use cases of different types and different needs. And that was very intriguing for us because internally at Verizon and similar to other companies, we cobbled together different approaches for different applications. And here we had this "write once, run anywhere" promise, which was extremely appealing. And Sun was very smart in that that same year they launched the Java -- let me see if I can remember the name -- it was the Java Developer Connection. It was a learning portal. And there were some very smart people at Sun that realized that for a technology to be successful, it's not just about the technology, but it's about the people.

Sharat Chander (11:30):
So, they flipped the business model with let's start with the CTO and the CXO and push it down and force this into the development shops. Whereas Sun, while they still had that as part of their business model, they also start from the bottom up -- learn and share. And that's still the notion of Java. It's a shared learning economy. Many of the ideas that we see arising comes from that spirit of sharing best practices and use cases. And that to me is fundamentally what we need to do in 2023, is never lose sight of what the purpose of the Java User Group program is. That is to connect, to share, and to learn. And the approach in terms of how each user group should operate is going to vary. We're distributed globally. We're distributed economically. We're distributed technically.

Sharat Chander (12:26):
So, not everyone has the same means as a peer may have on the other side of the globe. So, it's really up to individuals that have -- who find purpose in the language and the ecosystem to follow their own rhythm. It doesn't mean we can't share best practices, and we do that in various ways, but never lose sight that it's all about learning, sharing, and cooperating. And it, of course, it doesn't hurt to have at sometimes local companies that help sponsor you. I mean, this gets into the methodology of how do I start? And, for Frank, he might remember some of this, you as well Steve, which is sometimes it may just be at a restaurant or at a bar or at a library or someplace where we can aggregate together however small, medium, or large that that group size is to forge that union.

Sharat Chander (13:18):
And then it's encompassed on maybe an individual or a few individuals to then incubate that passion and that purpose. And I don't necessarily think there's a right or wrong way. The only wrong way is if you let it languish. And that sometimes can be very fearful. Standing up a Java User Group really doesn't entail too much effort other than commitment, staying with a rhythm and a purpose. And not every Java User Group is going to have the same scale and same size or same content delivery format, or have a web presence or may not have a web presence, albeit that sometimes may help, but you never want to discount sometimes what those smaller conversations may be. And for anyone who's looking to really start their exploration into a Java User Group my personal recommendation is go to dev.java.

Sharat Chander (14:14):
On dev.java. We have a whole catalog of pretty much every Java User Group on the planet there with contact information. Feel free to explore those and join those user groups and sit in and participate. Or if it's not local to you, take a look at how they're set up and make contact with some of those organizers to help guide you. Or worst case scenario, you can reach out to me, you can follow me on Twitter or find other places around the planet in terms of where my information may live. I'm happy to give you some guidance. So, we're all here to help each other. And that's literally how we got over over to 400+ Java User Groups around the planet is because we coalesced as a community, and we helped each other. That is really the fundamental DNA of what Java User Groups are all about.

Steve Poole (15:03):
Yeah.

Frank Greco (15:04):
And I have to add, because of Shar the Java community has been a very diverse community and inviting and friendly community, which there are other tech communities that are not like that. And they tend to be very closed. And if you're a beginner, you're shut out from those communities. And what Shar has done over the years is make it totally open to anybody and be friendly. So, you're a beginner. So, I'll tell you how what object-oriented programming is, and I'll help you how to start your first "hello world" program. So, it's to Shar's credit that the community is what it is.

Sharat Chander (15:39):
Well, I appreciate that, Frank. But this effort is on the shoulders of many more people than just the two that are on my arms here. That's very kind of you to say. But you do point out something that's very interesting, which is, even though in the term Java User Group, Java's at the very beginning, it does not mean that that's the only topic that can be serviced. Think about it. As developers, we touch so many other parts that are meaningful to our application in terms of the build, test, deploy model, maintenance model, target environment. I mean, you can bring in pretty much almost any talk, and it's just the Java part that sort of binds everything. So, if you're talking about new tools in terms of how to automate your CI and CD pipeline, fantastic.

Sharat Chander (16:27):
If you're talking about IoT, which continues to be sort of this emerging thing that's been emerging for awhile now, bring it in. If you want to talk about security, bring it in. These are all themes that are important for us as developers, whether we're using Java or not. But because there's so many Java developers around the world, I think the last estimate was anywhere from 10 to 12 million. I mean, once you're in the nine digits, it's kind of like now ridiculous size. There probably is an opportunity to connect in some way with someone on something. It doesn't always just have to be Java.

Steve Poole (17:05):
Yeah. And I think that makes a really good point. But I will second Frank and say thank you so much for all the efforts you've done so far, because you have made a big difference to the whole Java community. But I would also agree that others have been involved in that. It is a unique community. I don't think I know anything any other community -- we have so many people and so much passion and so many things happening, which people are just doing because they just love the JUG and the community. You look at all the developer conferences that run and you look at all the speakers whether they're being -- yes, some of us are being paid to do some of this, but there's an enormous number of developers who just want to go out and communicate and share and educate and thanks to them as well.

Steve Poole (17:52):
But I think the interesting thing is that when we talk about Java now, it's a lot more than Java. And maybe that's part of the challenge we have for the future is to get people to realize that Java User Groups cover more than just Java and that it's about all these ancillary things and other technologies. I always think it's great. I mean, from my point of view, having a user group where you can go on one day and somebody will teach you about AI or IoT or whatever, and sometimes it's got nothing to do with Java, but it's tech and it's fun and it's interesting and you learn stuff and you learn so much more by having that human interaction. You can bootstrap your education by having a good conversation with somebody who knows what they're doing. You can just get going so much faster. So, you said there were 400 user groups?

Sharat Chander (18:44):
A little over 400. Yeah.

Steve Poole (18:47):
So, Frank obviously runs the oldest. What's the newest?

Sharat Chander (18:52):
In fact, there was a new Java User Group that was just established, if I'm not wrong, over the summer, and forgive me for not knowing which country. But in Africa we had -- I think it was in the Ivory Coast if I'm not wrong, but I definitely could look that up and maybe I'll post it on Twitter to announce who that newest Java User Group was at least last calendar year. But on average, we see maybe three or four new user groups spin up in a calendar year. And that's because, and that may not sound like a lot, but that's because we have over 400 around the world. There's probably one that is somewhat in proximity to you, whether that's trainable, drivable, or flyable. But for the most part there's probably one close by. And even if it's not close, what has happened is we now are seeing members joining multiple Java User Groups regardless of location.

Sharat Chander (19:55):
I am a culprit of that. I mean, there's only so many out of those 400 that I can stay on top of on any given day. But you'll see me log in when the, for example, the London Java community may have a session, and the speaker I want to talk about or as Frank said with the New York Java SIG, there may be times where I might go watch material that they have archived from a previous meetup that was very valuable for those that are local. But they have taken the additional step to make it available on demand, so it amplifies it to much more broader audience. So, we're still seeing new user groups not at the same growth rate as we've seen in the past. And that's because we just have great density at this point, which is okay.

Sharat Chander (20:40):
But I will say this, I guess my biggest fear, if there is one fear I think we have an existential crisis in terms of quote unquote "the next generation." Look at all of us. I mean, if you could see us we're part of that 10 to 12 million who have probably been using Java for no less than five, maybe eight years or longer. We've been exposed to this, at least I have, since 1996. The question is how do we build a connection with that next generation where they not only find value in the technology, but find value in the approach to participate in the technology? And does that mean the user group format? Is that the way to pull them in? We haven't really explored how that next generation wants to be embraced. I know I haven't done any study on it. I have my opinions on it. But when I see developers that are now utilizing five or six multiple screens at the same time, basically like a multi-threaded application it does build fear in me. How am I reaching them? Am I using the techniques that matter to them? And if anything, how do I bring them and let them know that they have an equal seat at the table as everyone who's already sitting there?

Kadi Grigg (22:00):
I think that's an interesting point, because I wonder a lot of that too myself, but also in the addition with the divide between people who have gone to college and then people who are self-taught and have done bootcamp. So, I wonder, because I feel like that's two different spaces of life where people are looking for those connections in the face-to-face type environment, but it might be provided in different outlets for those two groups of people.

Sharat Chander (22:26):
You know, regardless of your path as far as how you reached some level of proficiency with Java, whether it's through a bootcamp or through a formal university schooling approach, I guess both -- not guess -- both are valid, absolutely have validity. And I haven't seen any -- I haven't seen any risk in terms of how one self identifies in terms of their skill sets or where that skill set came from. What's more concerning for me is: Does this next generation care to participate or is it purely just consumption of information? And that's kind of where I want to ensure that the next 25+ years of Java offers value beyond just the technology. Because if we say it's about people first and technology second, we have to prove that. And for every new, it seems like for every new generation that needs to be addressed in the way they want to be approached. And maybe they don't want to participate on a weekly basis or a monthly basis, or maybe they only want it that information on-demand or maybe they don't even want to share, which to me would be kind of scary because the real value of Java isn't that it solves multiple use cases and problems. It's that we have so much knowledge in our heads that combined gives it validity and credibility. That to me is what keeps me up at night. Let's put it that way.

Frank Greco (23:53):
I'm glad you're bringing up this topic. I definitely wanted to mention that as well today. There is a regular conversation that a group of us around the planet talk about reaching out to the next generation of developers. I mean, half the planet is under 30 years old, and Java is -- as Sharat pointed out -- Java is 25+ years. How do you get a young developer to be excited about something that's 25 years old. So, that's the challenge. And there are things that we're trying, but we don't know. I mean, we're still experimenting on how to reach out to the young developers. There is excitement and because my day job involves talking to young developers around the planet about other technologies. And I see the excitement with these young developers.

Frank Greco (24:45):
So, it's not that they're not excited. They're definitely interested in community. They're definitely interested in working together. So, I don't think that's the issue. I think young people be young people forever, never, and ever. I don't think we'll get away from that. And I see the excitement in these other technologies. So, I think it's just positioning Java and positioning future Java so that it meets that route it meets with the route of these students so that there is excitement. I mean, can we go with traditional Java with these young developers? I'd say no. Definitely not. There has to be another approach. There has to be something like a modern Java that reaches out. What that is? I don't know what that is, but it has to be quote unquote "modern." I mean, everything is now modern. Like instead of saying 2.0 or something, you say it's modern. So, it's modern Java. So, what that is, I don't know. And I think we're still experimenting what that is.

Sharat Chander (25:38):
Yeah. And we hear at Oracle on the Java team recognize that too, which is at the recently reintroduced JavaOne, if people don't know what JavaOne is that kind of scares me. But JavaOne has been the pillar flagship Java conference where we aggregate as a community to do some of that in-person sharing, collaborating, and learning. We reintroduced it after a few years hiatus and we hope to continue to move forward with JavaOne. But one of the things we discussed was ensuring that Java is inserted at the right place in terms of the learning experience. Whether that's through working with a college board or universities, there's many ways to sort of quote unquote "skin the cat."

Sharat Chander (26:28):
But we're exploring all of those avenues. I mean there was a quote from a very recognized industry analyst, James Governor from RedMonk, and if you don't know the quote, it says, when web companies grow up, they turn into Java shops, which means in the beginning, a lot of companies don't start with Java. And that's the case probably in many of the new startups that we're seeing is their initial investment is not necessarily in Java because they're trying to bootstrap and spin up quickly versus thoughtfully. But eventually they start to appreciate to see the value of what Java can do. And then maybe you're now introduced to Java many years after the beginning of your company. And so for many developers that sort of falls in the same camp as they may have had some rudimentary Java exposure and maybe in college or one or two courses in their bootcamp, but it wasn't something that was foundational for multiple years. And then they have to quickly spin up now that their company is pivoting or investing in Java. And it's not just upon us here at Oracle on the Java team, but we as a community need to make sure those on-ramps, those highway on- and off-ramps are not only visible, but easy to get in and get off of.

Frank Greco (27:39):
Totally agree with that. I think historically, if you look at the popularity of other languages, there was always a rocket ship they were riding to gain popularity. Whether it was with C, it was Unix and dealing with the finance and telecom community. So, that was growing fast. So, that's why C became popular. And then with Python, it's machine learning. Python's a great language, but it wouldn't grow as fast if not for a huge buzz in AI and ML. So, and then Java with the enterprise, but I think there has to be another rocket ship. What that rocket ship is, I'm not sure, whether it's IoT or is it still ML? It's still early. So, there seems to be, there has to be something for Java to ride to become popular again, I shouldn't say again, but it's to grow popular with the younger developers.

Sharat Chander (28:29):
Yeah, it's interesting because almost every year, for the past 10 years, I've read Java's obituary only for the next year to read it again. And yet here we are talking about tens of millions of developers, Java well-entrenched in tens of thousands of businesses across the world. And if you look at pretty much any job board, hundreds upon hundreds of openings requiring Java, and it continues to have vibrancy and need, and enterprises realize this, but it's interesting because if I go and talk to, and maybe it's the wrong approach, but if I talk to fifth, sixth, seventh graders, many of them have never even heard of Java or even seen the logo or understand who the mascot Duke is. It's like, "Don't know what it is, don't care about it." I walk into a high school, almost the same thing.

Sharat Chander (29:17):
But if I take kind of a reverse approach and say, "Let me show you some of these use cases." I'll show the Mars Rover, which we're in Java, you get this, "Oh, that's so cool." Or did you know that on this single chip on your credit card, it has all of this information? You get this "oh" factor. And so it's all about showing some of those what I would call cool use cases where you get the "oh" factor, and then they're like, "Well, how is it built?" And you kind of then show them. And so we need some more of that -- some companies to show what it is that they're doing. Cool. And I'm happy to showcase any company that's investing in Java to give them that visibility. I mean, that's the whole purpose. It's all about sharing to keep it visible. The less visible it is, the more irrelevant it becomes.

Steve Poole (30:06):
Yeah, I think that's very true. It's interesting. We talked about the cards, because a colleague of mine who has been in the Java community for some time, and I mentioned about Java cards and things like that, and he was going, "What is this?" Go have a look. And it was a completely new world, had completely passed him by that this thing existed. So, there is definitely a -- we should be pushing out there. The other interesting thing with the Java community as a Java developer is how I think -- blowing our own horn trumpet here -- I would say that the Java developers are the ones who were seen as being the "real engineers." If you're going to do business-critical stuff, you're going to rely on Java developers, because they understand the business, and they produce good solutions. So, you get to see that. And I've had many conversations with customers who are talking about looking at doing new things, but asking the Java team to do them because it's -- I trust those guys to do that because they understand my business, and they know what they're doing versus, "Okay, I've got to go hire a bunch of Golang developers or something because that's interesting, that's sexy and shiny." So, there is this view of we all rely on Java, the world relies on Java, but people don't realize it.

Sharat Chander (31:23):
You know, what's one way to kind of expose it to -- and I've done this a few times -- where students especially in college that are CS students are like "I'm looking for that cool job." I'm like, "Okay, let's just pause there for a second and go to a digital job board," be it Dice or Indeed or pick your job board of choice. And I say, "Type in Java and see what just comes populating." And you'll see companies like Airbus and Mazda and Spotify and NASA and CERN and Mercedes-Benz and on and on and on, like every company across almost any industry is looking for a Java developer. And they're like, "Oh, that many career opportunities are out there." And it's sort of like an "aha" moment. Or Apple, for example. I mean, you name the enterprise, there is somewhere a Java shop within that company. And that's really an eye-opener in terms of "I can actually make this a career and not just for a few years, but for a lifetime." Yeah. Like Frank and I have done.

Frank Greco (32:26):
I've thanked James Gosling many times, Shar.

Sharat Chander (32:32):
Oh, but will anyone know who James Gosling is who's listening to this podcast? I mean, I guess some people would, but who's James Gosling?

Frank Greco (32:39):
That's very true. The father of Java. I saw James at a JavaOne years ago, and all these young developers would just walk right past him. And he's standing there by himself.

Steve Poole (32:51):
He was at Devoxx Belgium last year and very similar happened.

Frank Greco (32:55):
But I think the career stuff -- I think that's really important, because I get questions all the time especially from outside the US, which is unusual, but outside the US I get those questions about careers and employment. But I think there's also -- you have to create a little bit of religion. A little bit of excitement. The careers course is critically important for your life. But there has to be something that you wake up in the morning and go, "Oh, I've got to work on that. I really want to work on that." So, I think focusing on the new use cases, whether -- it can't just be enterprise. It has to be some -- there has to be a buzz, whether it's machine learning or IoT or robotics, something where Java is involved in some cutting-edge stuff, which certainly is to show the young developers, this is really, really cool, and this is why you should wake up in the morning, be so excited that you want to jump on this and start writing code.

Steve Poole (33:48):
Yeah, I have to say, when GRA turned up and it started to become useful, and suddenly it's like, "Oh, we could do some cool stuff" and what the Red Hat guys have been doing with caucus, suddenly it's possible. We can go, "But we could, if people wanted to." We can write applications in Java that have instant startup. We can do command-line tools. We can start doing more UIs and desktop applications. And we sort of haven't, because I think we've lost that from the space. We don't think of Java as being that sort of tool, but it's perfectly reasonable to consider doing that. Definitely like the IoT space going to the edges, all sorts of places where Java sort of withdrew because people complain about being memory footprint or startup and things like that. And we fixed all that, but we need to go reclaim the space. So, maybe that's where the next thing is to find these showcase examples of where people are using Java in not necessarily novel ways, but in different ways from being on the back-end and showcase them and start pushing them out and showing people just how much is happening in this space that they'd already discounted.

Sharat Chander (35:05):
Yeah, part of this is going back to something we talked about, which is the consistent visibility of what Java can do. And to our detriment -- but let me not say detriment -- but there was an old, I'm not saying old, there was a legacy model of how we released software. And the notion of releasing new versions of Java every two, three, or four years meant you only had this flagship moment every two, three, or four years to say and showcase the value of Java. Now that we're releasing Java every six months, granted it's not about the throughput. It's about reducing the latency. We now have two points in time every year, again, showcase the value of Java, and we ship a new release of Java every March and every September. And we've been doing that like clockwork since 2017.

Sharat Chander (35:53):
So, we've proven we have a rapid delivery model, but we're also showing new innovation every six months, which means guess what? We have two flagship moments in time every year to showcase the value of Java. And that to me has been extremely valuable. And it's eroded that fear like, "Oh my God, you're releasing too fast." Because, again like I said, it's not about throughput. It's about reducing latency. So, you're not getting hundreds of features every six months like you did every two or three years. You're getting incremental innovation. And that to me is very powerful.

Steve Poole (36:29):
Yeah. Just so you know, because I worked this out, that when Java reaches 100, so do I.

Kadi Grigg (36:39):
That's like the best statistic ever.

Sharat Chander (36:42):
I think that's Steve's way of saying start planning that birthday party now.

Kadi Grigg (36:49):
Serious, we're going to go out with bang on that one.

Kadi Grigg (36:54):
So, all jokes aside though, I think we've talked about a few different topics today that are really good. Just uncovering the evolution of Java User Groups, kind of where we're at now, how to reach out to that younger generation. What would be your final thoughts from this conversation? Or what advice would you give to someone who is maybe newly graduated or coming out of a bootcamp, and they're looking at the Java space?

Sharat Chander (37:19):
I think we all have our own personal choices, and that's important -- personal choice matters. And it's good that we may have three different opinions on this. That shows a level of opportunity for anyone who's listening. My advice would be start at dev.java, one of the easiest URLs you can ever imagine in my opinion, dev.java. And start exploring our tutorials that we continue to update. Look through our community portal that's there to find user groups that are local to you. Identify Java champions, who are our luminary power subject matter experts that are out there. You can find their information and connect with them and then tell us what we need to put there, because we're trying to make this more embracing as best we can, going back to the spirits of '96 with the Java Developer Connection. So it's a place to explore as well as to give us feedback, so we can make it meet your needs. But I'll hand the mic off to Frank and Steve because I know they have their own opinions as well.

Frank Greco (38:21):
Yes. So, certainly I would suggest for any young developers is join your local user group. Join as Shar does join multiple user groups. And it's like having a bunch of teachers. I mean, the best way to learn is to have a good teacher. Yes, you could learn from on the web, and you could learn from videos, but if you have a good teacher, you're going to accelerate your learning. So, if you have multiple good teachers, you're going to really accelerate your learning. So, join a user group, collaborate, participate in, and network with your fellow developers and learn. And not just about Java, but learn about these other technologies that Java is helping. And I've been a musician for most of my life as well, and I'm a guitar player, but I don't just listen to guitar players. I listen to other musicians to learn about how they approach music. And I've learned so much by listening to non-guitarists about how I should be playing guitar. So, Java developers should be doing the same thing. How can I apply Java to this area -- IoT or to machine learning or to the enterprise or to this or to that? So, that's -- just collaborate with your fellow developers.

Steve Poole (39:33):
Yeah, absolutely. So, I can't comment on the guitar thing, but I can comment on the rest of it and say exactly that -- go find your local user group via -- dev.java? Java.Dev?

Sharat Chander (39:43):
Dev.Java.

Steve Poole (39:47):
Go find that. Go look it up. And most user groups -- there's always some way for you to introduce yourself, where it's a Slack channel or an email. Just turn up. Say "hello." Say "help." Tell them what you're looking to do, and you'll get some advice and make connections. And as soon as you can try and meet some of your peers face-to-face, it makes an enormous difference to have a few conversations with people who are -- have been doing it 20 years or have been doing it five minutes. Either way, you'll learn something. And you'll make friends who are doing what you're trying to do. And that makes all the difference.

Kadi Grigg (40:21):
Well, I couldn't have wrapped any better myself. Thank you Frank, Steve, and Sharat for being here today. I know this conversation wouldn't have been possible without you guys.

Frank Greco (40:29):
Oh, thank you.

Steve Poole (40:30):
Thank you.

Sharat Chander (40:31):
Appreciate the invite.

Kadi Grigg (40:34):
Thanks for joining us for another episode of Wicked Good Development, brought to you by Sonatype. Our show was produced by me, Kadi Grigg. If you value our open source and cybersecurity content, please share it with your friends and give us a review on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Check out our transcripts on Sonatype's blog and reach out to us directly with any questions at wickedgooddev@sonatype.com. See you next time.

Tags: thought leaders, Community, java, podcast, DevZone, Wicked Good Development

Written by Kadi Grigg

Kadi is passionate about the DevOps / DevSecOps community since her days of working with COBOL development and Mainframe solutions. At Sonatype, she collaborates with developers and security researchers and hosts Wicked Good Development, a podcast about the future of open source. When she's not working with the developer community, she loves running, traveling, and playing with her dog Milo.