Friday, December 7th, 2007

GWT Conference: Voices That Matter Summary

Category: Conferences, GWT

So I’ve been blogging all this week from the Voices That Matter: Google Web Toolkit Conference. For those who requested a summary of my posts on various sessions, they are…

Really, there were three highlights of the conference for me, two of them reminders, and one of them a surprise.

  1. GWT is a compiler. Let me amplify: it is a compiler, not just a Java to JavaScript converter. It inlines methods, removes dead code, optimizes loops, all those things that a compiler can and should do. And if you play by the GWT rules, you will not leak memory. Want a faster, smaller app? Wait 3 months and recompile with the newest version. Eventually, the compiler will produce better, more efficient JavaScript than you can produce by hand.
  2. The security concerns for GWT are the same as for all sophisticated Ajax applications: the more state and control logic you put in the client, the more you open yourself up to really nasty attacks. In a sense, the fact that GWT makes writing sophisticated client side code so easy and obscures which Java code is in the client and which in the server, it can increase the potential for making these mistakes.
  3. The surprise? The conference was not attended by that many GWT newbies or web developers looking to bring their Struts apps into the Ajax light. A show of hands brought home the fact that the audience consisted of mostly folks with Swing/AWT/SWT experience (though they also worked with webapps).

This last item made this the most unusual conference I have attended. Usually, when a technology is barely a year old, you expect the first conference to consist of newbies listening to the vendor and a few select clients talk about the technology and their early adopter experiences. If any of the attendees have written apps of their own, they suffer from all of the "version 1 on a new technology" problems, i.e. in version one you don’t have your model quite right, your UI is a bit off and fighting with your model, and you’ve brought other, inappropriate platform idioms to the new technology. With version 2 you fix all of the version 1 problems and introduce a bunch of new ones. With version 3 your model is pretty good and in harmony with your UI and you’ve started to introduce some framework code that makes you more productive.

Well, the folks at the conference were already past version 3 on some pretty slick desktop apps, and the resulting ports to GWT had even the GWT team scratching their heads and saying "wow, I didn’t know you could do that with a browser."

All in all, a very promising start to a conference. If year 2 improves on year 1 and adds a few more tool vendors, as I expect it will, I will definitely attend.

Posted by Dietrich Kappe at 4:33 pm
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Thanks Dietrich, amazingly realtime and very comprehensive report from the conference. I stopped taking notes (urls, etc) on the conference after I saw that the notes could be read on your blog just minutes after the speech :)

Comment by Joonas Lehtinen — December 7, 2007

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