Event Report: IndicThreads Java Conference 2011

(This article about the IndicThreads Java Conference 2011 was written by Abhay Bakshi for DZone. It has been re-published here with permission for the benefit of PuneTech readers.)

Attending a conference (probably as renowned and as recognized as the Java conference by IndicThreads) adds to your muscle – Period. By the way, I have picked up from the same thread — same tone and similar spirit — from March 2011. IndicThreads held the Q11 conference then, which I had a chance to attend and then write a short report on for DZone. If you attended IndicThreads conferences before, your feedback is also welcome — through your blogs or through places like this report hosting page.

Now, you may ask – How Was the Environment This Time?

First and foremost, I would like to say this — you could feel the thought process from Harshad Oak (Owner – IndicThreads – Conference Organizer) all throughout the conference. When I attended the conference sessions, I could see that one presentation simply led to another one. And somehow I could also relate this fact to the earlier Q11 conference; and could see the passion that Harshad has when he arranges these events.

Just as a side note – Harshad is the first Java champion in India and he continues to serve the IT community. He is ably supported by his wife Sangeeta Oak in these endeavors. This young couple gives a lot of attention to detail for the events!

The Conference Agenda in short

The conference agenda included the following topics (Friday/Saturday — Dec 02/03):

  • The Java Report (Harshad Oak)
  • Scalability Considerations (Yogesh Deshpande)
  • PaaSing a Java EE 6 Application (Kshitiz Saxena)
  • Solr as your Search and Suggest Engine (Karan Nangru)
  • Testing Concurrent Java Programs (Sameer Arora)
  • Scala Collections: Expressivity and Brevity upgrade from Java (Dhananjay Nene)
  • REST Style Web Services – Google Protocol Buffers (Prasad Nirantar)
  • Java EE 7 Platform: Developing for the Cloud (Kshitiz Saxena – yes again! He has awesome topic coverage.)
  • Building Massively Scalable Applications with Akka (Vikas Hazrati)
  • Simplifying builds with Gradle (Saager Mhatre)
  • Using Scala for Building DSLs (Abhijit Sharma)

The presentation slides are hosted at http://j11.indicthreads.com/slides

My Thoughts on the Agenda

On the first day of the conference, I noticed that there are 7 sessions to attend on Friday and 4 more sessions on Saturday. Frankly, I thought there was some kind of mismatch in arranging these sessions. But my opinion changed as the conference went on from Friday into Saturday. The next day was intentionally kept lighter. As an attendee, I now think that your mind probably absorbs and retains more information during the initial parts of a conference. I believe that IndicThreads is getting better overall conference after conference.

What I Wanted to Get from Each Session

I planned on getting 3 things from the sessions (that was my ROI!) — first, how the knowledge earned will apply towards the business domain at my work place; second, my personal interactions with the speaker(s) from networking perspectives; and third, how I can help Harshad and his team and provide helpful feedback. Even with events like NFJS, TSSS in USA, I always received and offered my best to organizers Jay Zimmerman, Floyd Marinescu et al.

I should also mention, I still remember Rick Ross’ keynote speech at TSSS and how it was inspirational to many of us there. Point is that industry leaders like Harshad, Rick, Floyd (and of course some more) are doing everything to lead developers all across the world to be better IT professionals. Sometimes they pay from their own pockets to see results.

The Actual Sessions

I am not going to cover all the details from all the talks, well, it’s not possible. The slides are available for entire content.

The Java Report

In the keynote speech, Harshad mentioned that things moved very rapidly after Sun was purchased by Oracle. He later encouraged participants to have a look at topics such as Java EE 6 Web Profile, Java FX 2.0 (all Java), Java EE 7 and a few more. Harshad raised a point – do you as a Java expert look the same “sexy” today as you did when Java started? The answer is “less sexy”. He also said that Java ME was not offering many new things for quite a while now.

Scalability Considerations

Yogesh covered Vertical Scaling and Horizontal Scaling, and principles behind both techniques. He backed up his presentation with a helpful case study.

PaaSing a Java EE 6 Application

Kshitiz works at Sun/Oracle for last 10 years. He explained PaaS in simpler terms. It was very important to keep things simple. The speech was well accepted by the audience. Just as I was putting this article together, I saw that Javalobby had published a fresh article on PaaS 2.0 — it looks quite relevant to our discussion.

Solr as Your Search and Suggest Engine

It was very good to learn from Karan about Embedded Solr Server versus Commons Http Solr Server, and the various “search” and “suggestion” cases. Karan is quite passionate about Solr.

Testing Concurrent Java Programs

I don’t develop as much concurrent Java code at work as I do some other pieces; but learning from Sameer clicked a few ideas in my mind for a business case that we have at work. We (AEGIS) do some case executions in our workflow, and ideas from concurrency can be applied to what we do. By the way, for the intense session that we had with Sameer, fortunately, there was a coffee break after the session. Hats off to Sameer for how much he knows about this topic.

Scala Collections – Expressivity and Brevity upgrade from Java

Although Dhananjay knew a lot, he was addressing a very specific topic “Collections”. To me, the topic could have been broader (or be split in two sessions). Scala is a powerful language and initial learning curve looks longer for a beginner. I should mention that Dhananjay preferred IntelliJ for Scala-based development — rightfully so.

REST Style Web Services – Google Protocol Buffers

Prasad (speaker) has a background from Akron, Ohio (M.S.). He compared content negotiation techniques (JSON, XML, and Portable Binary Content) with focus on Google Protocol Buffers. His comparison of Google Protocol Buffers with Apache Avro was very apt.

Java EE 7 Platform: Developing for the Cloud

Kshitiz explained the terms IaaS, PaaS and SaaS. There are vendors other than Sun that offer PaaS support — but standards are lacking. He explained Java EE 7 focus on PaaS – Elasticity which has progressed from single node implementation to multi-node multi-instance clustering to SLA driven Elasticity. Refer the slides for more details.

Building Massively Scalable Applications with Akka

Vikas writes for InfoQ. He said that if you wanted to learn Akka, then you needed to keep in mind that Akka was designed to make developer’s life easier by addressing concurrency, scalability and fault-tolerance in applications. The founder of Akka is Jonas Boner, and I find Jonas’ article on Akka hosted by Javalobby at this page. As per Vikas, Akka is good for event-based systems, whereas Hadoop for batch-based systems.

Simplifying Builds (Build Scripts) with Gradle

An excellent slide presentation and visual illustrations by Saager. He corrected the name of the topic to “Simplifying build scripts..”. He compared Gradle with Ant and Maven, and mentioned that Gradle describes builds with only as much text as is absolutely necessary.

Using Scala for Building DSLs

This was the only session where there were no questions from the audience! From Abhijit’s (speaker) angle, it was a bit uncomfortable feeling; but I later mentioned to him that the presentation was so straight-forward (note – not an easy compilation) and neatly arranged, the questions were answered even before they were asked. I recommend – just download the presentation, and you will get to see what I mean. Good to learn about Scala in this domain.

Every session was little over an hour. And all speakers covered their sessions very well.

Past Reviews of IndicThreads Conference on Java

Some of the celebrity authors and speakers like Arun Gupta and Vikas Hazrati have reviewed their prior Java IndicThreads conference experiences by writing articles on their respective blogs (you may access the reviews: Arun, Vikas). It is rewarding to learn from such experts in the field.

Lastly, about the Food and Quizzes and Prizes!

I believe, Sangeeta made awesome choices for food at lunch and the breaks! As well as, she put up short quizzes and announced prizes in different categories. IndicThreads have maintained the “Green” theme and I won a prize in that category.

My Top Three Take-away Points

My top three take away points from J11 are – rejuvenating yourself by looking at technical topics from speakers’/attendees’ eyes and adding to your knowledge, networking with experts so that you can offer your best and receive the best from them, and just knowing where the Java industry stands today.


There was an “Unconference” session, where everybody who participated voiced a need for the Java groups in the city to come together. I get a feel that awareness in the industry about such conferences is increasing, and demand for such speakers and quality offered by these conferences is going to increase in few more short years.

Harshad encourages local speakers to come out and respond to the RFPs (and participate). For those who only want to attend can also win a FREE pass to the conference! All in all, it was worth attending the Java conference by IndicThreads.