The Joker Returns: How the Main Russian Java Conference Held

    A year ago, the Joker conference was held in St. Petersburg for the first time , and a detailed text about this appeared on Habrahabr . Now she has returned with even greater scope, confirming with deed her application for the status of “the main Java conference in Russia”. The organizers, led by Alexei Fedorov (@ 23derevo), invited me to evaluate the result of their work. I’ll say right away that I’m not a Java programmer, but an IT journalist, so I couldn’t get into all the technical details of the reports - but what I understood was enough for conclusions.


    If for the first time Joker was held at the Pribaltiyskaya Hotel, now the Park Inn Pulkovskaya has been selected. She was not the first to host major IT events: for example, a conference on the development and promotion of Winter Nights mobile games was held here in February, bringing together speakers from companies like Rovio and Warner Brothers.

    The program was so rich that three rooms were used at once (at the same Winter Nights, the business was limited to two). Moreover, the third, the smallest, did not turn out to be “a place for reports that no one needs”: people often stood against the wall in it, because there were more people who wanted to listen to the report than there were chairs.


    In the case of conferences, sometimes everything that is not directly related to the speeches is considered senseless tinsel. But at the same time, a person working on almost any large project can easily tell how important naming, corporate identity and guidelines for its proper perception. It is one thing to be just a set of reports, and another to be an event that is singled out and expected, knowing that this name already guarantees a high level. And in the case of Joker, this part was on top.

    You can start with the name: Java conferences held not by Oracle itself are required to include the letter J in the title, but often this leads to abstract names like the Cretan “JCrete” - a very specific word was chosen here that makes it possible to beat it, and This opportunity was used to the full. The halls were called "Spades", "Clubs" and "Tambourines", those who came received by the proprietary card deck, in the hall it was possible to take pictures in the form of a card hero - even if it was not directly connected with programming, but it would not confuse the event with any other and years later, visitors will remember, “Oh, I heard about this profiler on the Joker.”

    First day reports

    After the opening ceremony and keynote from Oleg Anastasiev (Odnoklassniki), the case went directly to the reports. One of the highlights of the first day was the performance of Alexei Shipilev, who works directly at Oracle and enjoys immense authority in the Russian Java world. He confidently explained that not every benchmarking was equally useful - and for all its “technical hardcore” performance on slides, there was an informal language like “Benchmarks without analysis greatly upset Shipilev”, reviving the audience and not turning everything into a set of dry instructions.

    The combination of seriousness and the lack of tediousness was also evident in Oleg Anastasiev’s report “Beyond NoSQL: NewSQL on Cassandra”: in what situations NewSQL might be preferable to MS SQL and NoSQL, it was quite serious, but this did not prevent the speaker from using the company Odnoklassniki emoticon and cause laughter in the audience with a description of familiar situations (“what to do with BSoD when using MS SQL, even Microsoft does not know what to do, give tips like“ wipe the monitor with a cloth ”).

    Speaker Sergey Kuksenko (Oracle) at the beginning of his speech drew attention to the disclaimer, which is traditionally accompanied by the reports of this company (in short: “things will be pronounced for general information now, Oracle does not assume any obligations.” However, this did not mean at all that the report itself consisted of common places and water: on the contrary, his report could be described with the word “hard” and because of the subject matter (it was about hardware performance counters, performance counters used in modern processors), and because of tonality. For the links listed on the final slide, looked like - google it yourself, not small ones.

    The hardcore was followed by relaxation: the first day ended with a concise master class on "how to draw a monkey." The resulting drawings could be submitted to participate in the competition.


    Obviously, many visitors to the conference, having met old acquaintances there, continued to talk in the evening already outside her framework and went to bed not early - therefore, on the second day it was required to stir everyone up, and in the morning two points of the program were allotted to it at once. The first is the performance of the Scientific and Technical Rap project with songs like Tyzhprogramist: the realities familiar to those present in the hall combined with a vigorous beat. And then Nikita Dzhigurda appeared on the stage and staged a real performance: he threw cards into the hall (“tell me who will get the joker and get a prize”), telling stories from life, and launching his clips on the screen.

    Surely there are those who wish to declare that such a hero is inappropriate at a technical conference. However, no matter how you relate to Nikita Borisovich (he is a truly ambiguous figure), it would be foolish to argue with two things. Firstly, he does a wonderful job of “stirring up the audience”: moving from lyrics to a formidable growl, he wakes you as healthy as you can with his voice. And, secondly, among the famous Russian figures, the role of the Joker does not suit anyone like him. That is, that same identity is perfectly sustained.

    It is not surprising that after the performance of Dzhigurda in the lobby there was a line of people who wanted to take a selfie with him, which he was only glad about. His loud exclamations "Selfie party!" even forced to close the doors of the main hall, so as not to distract the speakers listening there.

    Second day reports

    It was good to listen to that. The first speaker in the main hall was Marcus Eisele (Red Hat), impressed by Dzhigurda's speech, but quickly got down to business and talked about the features of Java EE 7. He was replaced by another Marcus - Oracle Lagergren - who spoke about achieving harmony between the Java virtual machine and the operating system in which it is running. Both reports were in English, but the audience gathered prepared, and this did not cause problems.

    Meanwhile, in the small hall, Svetlana Isakova, who was involved in the Kotlin project at JetBrains, was saying “in simple words about type inference”. Despite the simplicity of the words, her report was very “on business”, and the slides contained mostly strict information - until on one of them a crocodile image was added (“I thought that you would get bored to this place and begin to wonder where images").

    But there was no shortage of vivid examples for Mikhail Dudarev (Licel) in a report on the difficult places with the security of Java Web containers. One of the slides depicted how, using CSRF (cross-site request forgery), a Khan user with the status “commander” is added to the Earth - an allusion is clear to any Star Trek fan. And the subtitle of the ending part of “And One More Thing ...” is for anyone familiar with Apple’s canonical presentations.

    Alexei Ragozin from Deutsche Bank, having gathered to talk about data structures in Java, ran into a more prepared audience than he expected (“Raise your hands, who himself once implemented a hash table ... however!”), But quickly found: “Who implemented such an exotic thing as prefix trees? Oh, so I’ll tell you something new. ” And in another room, Odnoklassnikov’s lead developer Aleksey Shevchuk at that time explained how to solve the problems of highly loaded services: really, who else should speak on such a topic as a non-developer of a site with tens of millions of users?

    The program was completed in the main hall by Alexei Shipilev, who had already performed the day before, but in this case changed the Russian language to English (the title of the report was “java.lang.String Catechism”). However, he could not do without Russian at all: on one of the slides there was a photograph with the caption “There is no science without flour”.


    How to understand if the conference was successful? This partly shows the number of visitors (everything was fine with Joker, none of the three rooms were empty), partly their reaction (everything is fine here too: the speakers were escorted with active applause). But there is an equally important indicator that is more difficult to evaluate: which part of the conference visitors heard is useful to them in practice.

    Of course, it’s impossible to say for all visitors, but the example of the administrator of the VK community can be indicativeabout Java by Alexander Levantovsky: “Nikita Lipsky from Excelsior in the report on Ahead-of-time compilation told exactly what I needed - I had already heard about the same project, but then it was more raw, and now, judging by report suitable for my tasks. And it is the format of the conference that allows you to see the internal structure of the project, communicate with developers and understand how this can be applied. ”

    So, it's not in vain, and everyone who is interested in Java now has a reason to wait for the next Joker. Wait another year - but you will not forget such a memorable event for a year.

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