The annual Java Development Conference, sponsored by Sun Microsystems. It is usually held in June¹, in San Francisco, at the Moscone Center. In the year 2000 version, 25,000 people attended - officially. That's because that's the maximum legal capacity of the Moscone Center - unofficial estimates make it more like 27,000. In 2001, the slowing economy reduced attendance to approximately 17,000.
It wasn't always as big (or corporate) as it is today. It used to be held in March, and was a lot geekier. More ponytails, less suits. For a while it ran opposite VBITS, which was at the Marriot, and Sun and That Which Cannot Be Named ran goofy little guerilla marketing stunts on each other. But in the last few years JavaOne grew, and became huge compared to the few thousand Visual Basic developers who schlepped out to VBITS, so they moved away in time, though not in space.
But now it's a huge conference, training session, rollout, brainwashing and trade show all under one (enormous) roof. It's mostly sedate nowadays, too. People go for the training, the BoFs and the swag on the trade show floor.
Ah, the trade show floor. Corporate types stalk the floor, mixed with sad eyed developers who are pressed into booth bunny² service, shoved into logowear and stationed in pods give away four color glossies, demo CDs and T-shirts or cheap, silly toys to the punters. Last year IBM had a platoon of strippers dolled up in leather and blue hair like some real life version of Leather Goddesses of Phobos, but mostly it's tame.
Still, there's lots of opportunity for networking and many the backroom deal is struck over the course of the week. Most of the big names in the Java community are around, and you can sometimes get a chance to talk tech with the people who make the tools you use every day.
The big vendors usually try to outdo each other with evening parties, though after the 2001 dot com meltdown this was a bit less flashy. However, Iona made a big splash in 2001 with a party featuring Spinal Tap, and a Sun Microsystems party featured the B-52s.
If you want a good technical conference, there are many smaller and better ones. But all in all, it's an excellent week to get exposed to the hype of Java and get Sun's One True Vision.
1. The 2002 version will be in late March due to a scheduling conflict at Moscone.
2. If you can find me there, I might give you some swag!