2023 was charged with conferences, meetings, and events dedicated to Java, some of which took place offline for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic. And trust me, there was a lot to discuss, with some of the year’s highlights being
- the release of JDK LTS 21 with 15 new and improved features, including finalized virtual threads,
- the rise of Arm servers for enhanced application performance in the cloud,
- multiple solutions for increasing the performance of Java-based projects, including Coordinated Restore at Checkpoint API for minimized startup and warmup times,
- the release of Spring Boot 3 with baked-in support for GraalVM Native Image followed by virtual threads and CRaC support,
- the growing demand for OpenJDK distributions, given this year’s changes to the Oracle Java pricing model,
- the ongoing trend towards optimized resource usage and overall performance in Kubernetes,
And many more. As such, your humble narrator attended 28 events worldwide, and in this post, I want to share the most memorable moments from my Java travels far and wide.
Table of Contents
Everything started in Atlanta
My first American journey in 2023 started in Atlanta, where I met with Bob, a member of our Java Expert Group and blog author: together, we were bound to attend multiple JUG meetings throughout the US. A pleasant surprise was to run into Vincent Mayers, a Java Champion and organizer of Devnexus and Atlanta JUG.
I must say, I fell in love with Atlanta, although it took some time to feel the city vibe: it offers so much to see that it took us several days to touch upon the sightseeing delights it offers. And I can’t help mentioning the food in the American South, which was delicious but extraordinarily spicy and greasy. As I’m not used to getting so many calories, fat, and salt with every meal, my stomach won’t forget this journey, too, albeit for an entirely different reason!
After traveling south, we spent some time on the West Coast, including San Francisco, where I attended an online JUG meeting.
Much as I love the city with its sights and legendary trams, this stay was a little overshadowed by an unpleasant accident during the meeting. Just when I was giving my talk, two random blocks decided to have some fun and zoom-bombed our session! I admit that talking calmly over their howling and laughing was challenging. Alas, we didn’t manage to conduct the meeting to the end, but such happenings are the expected side effects of the digital age, I guess.
Meeting in a barn
One of the JUG meetings during my winter US journey was held in Charlotte, a beautiful and the biggest city in North Carolina with a magnificently sparkling skyline.
After enjoying the city attractions during the day and nightly views of the city center at night, I was, mildly speaking, surprised when we gathered the next day for the JUG session in what seemed to be a quaint barn!
A JUG meeting in Charlotte
But it didn’t stop us from having a great time and an engaging discussion. To paraphrase the saying: It’s the community that counts, not the location! Each such meeting means new contacts and discoveries.
A knock on the door at the crack of dawn
In spring, I returned to the US, but Alex, BellSoft’s CEO, accompanied me this time. Our first stop was Atlanta, where we participated in Devnexus, and then we headed to LA to attend several meetings.
Alex was bound to fly to Singapore for a JCP meeting, so after yet another meeting, we parted ways: Alex went straight to the airport, and I hung around with friends for a while, and then went to my hotel room.
Around 5 a.m., I was torn from my sleep with a loud knock on the door. “What on Earth is going on?” I thought. Crawling out of bed, I reluctantly dragged myself to the door, wishing that my rumpled, sleepy, and incredibly dissatisfied face would make a visitor regret their decision to bother me at this ungodly hour. But my dissatisfaction instantly vanished (with the rest of my sleepiness) as the visitor turned out to be none other than Alex.
Apparently, his flight was delayed and then canceled altogether. After spending the night at the airport, he fell asleep almost instantly in the armchair. I wish I could say the same about myself!
There’s no place like home, except for IST
It would be no exaggeration to say that Istanbul, which served as the junction between Kazakhstan, the US, and the EU, became almost like my second home: I spent many a day wandering around the airport or the city waiting for my next flight. Sometimes, I even worked or slept at the airport (kudos to the engineers who invented Sleepods). Once, BellSoft’s T-shirts for giveaways traveled with me, and although they didn’t have a chance to appreciate the beauty of the Turkish capital as they were safely tucked in my suitcase.
In some cases, I managed to book a connecting flight without long waiting hours between the flights. Still, as a retaliation, I was usually so exhausted when I boarded the second plane that I fell asleep even before the plane would take off. On one such occasion, I dozed off (well, to be honest, I fell dead asleep for four hours), and when I woke up, the plane didn’t move an inch, but instead, was covered in snow! “Well, that’s odd,” I thought. I guess the same thought crossed the mind of the airport employees, as no plane took off until the snow melted away.
By the way, I managed to bargain a Doctor Who’s fez at the Grand Bazaar to keep up with the background theme of my Docker Who: Small Containers Through Time and Space presentation.
One of the most extraordinary conferences I participated in this year was JNation, held in Coimbra, Portugal (and as the only way to get to the city is by land, I got to see amazing Lisbon where I flew to as well). By extraordinary, I don’t mean that we discussed the impact of Virtual Threads finalization in Java 21 on the gopher population in the Great Plains. It’s just that Coimbra is the home of one of the oldest universities in the world, which is a must-see per se, but seasoned with the retrogaming theme of this year’s JNation conference, the aftertaste of the event is something unforgettable.
Imagine personifications of characters from our beloved video and computer games walking down the halls of the 500-year-old St. Francis Convent, and you will get my point!
A cherry on the cake: I presented two topics at the conference!
A friendly reunion in years
Some of my warmest memories from this year’s travels are associated with the JVM Language Summit and the OpenJDK Committers Workshop at Oracle’s Santa Clara campus on August 7–9. The reason is that this event was held offline for the first time in four years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so I was thrilled to finally meet my old friends and colleagues in person. And the memories are warm in all senses: when I was freezing under the air conditioner, Charat Changer saved me from catching a cold by giving a cozy hoodie.
Moreover, in September, Alex and I attended a highly anticipated celebration of the JCP 25th anniversary in New York, so Alex managed to meet with the JCP colleagues after all.
A nightly nipper
My last US tour in 2023 was approaching its end. I went to Pennsylvania after yet another JUG meeting, and apart from the pouring rain that met me upon my arrival to Philadelphia, this episode of my US travels seemed to be going down as the most hassle-free one. I even managed to take some time off my schedule to admire the Liberty Bell. The resonating similarity between its name and the name of our company and the flagship product Liberica JDK is inspiring, don’t you think?
You might have guessed by the name of this story that I was wrong about the hassle-free journey. I was watching peaceful dreams in my hotel room when suddenly, I was torn out of my sleep by a strange rustling noise. I opened my eyes, and when they adapted to the darkness, I deciphered a large silhouette creeping around the room. “Hey man, what are you doing here?” I grumbled. The figure stood still but didn’t make a sound or move towards the door. I felt the ”fight-or-flight” reaction kicking in and taking away the rest of my sleepiness, and as there was nowhere to flee, I decided there was nothing better to do than to try and scare the stranger away. So I stood up, and luckily, my 6.5-foot bulk of the body did its part. The man, indeed, got scared and ran away. I heaved a sigh of relief, but my joy didn’t last long: when I started to examine my belongings, I noticed that the man escaped with my smartphone!
You can tell that losing the phone nowadays is worse than losing the passport. So I called the hotel security immediately and made them call the police. While the police officers were searching the building, I was trying frantically to reorganize the rest of my journey.
But fortune was on my side that night: the phone was discovered because the nipper threw it away in an attempt to escape. The history is silent on whether the culprit was discovered as well, but I was so overwhelmed with happiness upon reuniting with my smartphone that I didn’t even care!
Devoxx Belgium: a perfect closure
My world tour finished strong in Antwerp at Devoxx Belgium in 2023. Devoxx is a large-scale event for developers, and this year was no exception: five conference days packed with more than two hundred talks and hands-on labs on the most acute topics of the modern IT environment: AI, cybernetics, security, server and cloud development, bleeding-edge tools and solutions, and of course, all things Java. Just like with JNation, it was a special joy for me to deliver two presentations, Why you need performance tests for proper Kubernetes scaling and Java on Arm (both talks are available on YouTube if you are interested in the topics).
Dmitry at Devoxx Belgium 2023
Naturally, you can’t do without lively discourse with your peers and fellow developers (at Devoxx, there are even special Birds-of-Feather sessions to satisfy this need). My colleagues and I had great discussions with Java devs at our booth!
Looking forward to 2024
All in all, this year left me with only fond memories of the events I attended and the people I met. And even mishaps such as the stolen smartphone turned into amusing stories in the end.
I can’t wait to see what 2024 has in stock. I plan to keep the momentum and attend as many Java conferences, meetings, and workshops as possible. Hope to see you there!