I spent the last weekend at the No Fluff Just Stuff (www.nofluffjuststuff.com) Ohio Java Software Symposium in Cincinnati.

Jim Weirich (onestepback.org/) took much better notes than I did, so I’ll leave it to him to chronicle what we saw. We happened to go to the same sessions by chance (or was it something about the fact that we were both Ruby geeks at a Java conference and were attracted to the same topics?).

Jay Zimmerman (conference organizer) has done an excellent job by sticking to a few guiding principles:

  • No vendor sales-pitch presentations
  • Keeping it small and personal (encouraging speakers to interact with attendees)
  • Practical technical presentations that attendees can apply to their work
  • Constant feedback collection from attendees and adaptation of the content/format as a result (it really shows).

I had a great time. The sessions were fantastic, but the best thing was meeting a lot of smart people and participating in some interesting side conversations. I’ve only been to a couple of conferences, but from what I’ve seen the main draw for me will always be the between-the-sessions chat time.

Primary takeaways from the conference:

  • Java people sure do use a lot of XML. I get the feeling they’d like to be using a scripting language, and they use XML as an attempt to fill this void.
  • Naked Objects (www.nakedobjects.org) is much more interesting than I thought it was. I thought it was a fascinating novelty when I first saw it, but seeing Dave (pragprog.com/pragdave) speak about it made me realize just how important it might be.
  • Some of the smartest Java people in the industry seem to spend a lot of effort working around road blocks in the Java language and accompanying acronyms.
  • I realized just how much time software developers spend on plumbing vs. value added business logic.

In short, if you’re a software developer or someone who works with software developers, I would highly recommend checking out the web site and looking for a No Fluff Just Stuff symposium in a city near you. It’s well worth the price of admission.