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Twenty Years of Speakjava

It occurred to me recently that I had just passed a substantial milestone in my career. I started working for Sun Microsystems in February 1996 but, at that time, with Java being so new my role was to help drive adoption of Solaris on Intel with major ISVs like Oracle, Informix and Lotus Notes (hands up anyone who remembers that!)

The reality was that nobody, other than a handful of managers in what was at that time called SunSoft, had any interest in this. Customers didn’t see the benefit, which meant that ISVs were reluctant to commit the necessary resources and even most of Sun just wanted to “shift tin” running Solaris on SPARC.

As a result, I reached a crucial fork in the technology road and decided to go down the sunlit path of Java. I spent the next eighteen months learning how to use (and, most importantly, how not to use) Java by writing enterprise applications for internal use in Sun.

Having gained some useful experience, I decided it was time to move on to new challenges and, in March 1999, I joined the Market Development Engineering (MDE) group (bizarrely, had I simply stayed in my first role at Sun this is where I would have ended up anyway).

Thus began 20 years (so far) of evangelising Java. (It seems we don’t use that term any more so maybe I should say, 20 years of being a Java Developer Advocate).

Being slightly obsessive and compulsive, I still have all my e-mail and files from this time (the great thing about digital information is how little physical space it occupies) so can pinpoint my first Java presentation in this group.

On the 12th April 1999, I delivered two presentations on Enterprise Java in Helsinki, followed up by the same presentations in Stockholm, Copenhagen, London and Zurich. This was all part of a roadshow organised by Sun, BEA and Symantec. As it turns out, my very first Java presentation was at a Lotus Notes partner conference on 16th June 1997. I guess that’s where I decided that Java was the direction to take.


I even managed to find the slide decks I used, which I will admit took a bit of time. Of course, I couldn’t open it with the current version of PowerPoint thanks to Microsoft’s decision to abandon versions from the last century (how unreasonable!) After finding an online file conversion site, I was able to relive the glories of J2EE. For your amusement, I have uploaded the slides to Slideshare, here, here and here. (These come with the obvious warning that they’re well out of date).

I don’t have an accurate number for the miles I’ve travelled over those twenty years or how many times I’ve presented different aspects of Java; let’s just say, ‘a lot’. I’ve certainly covered almost all aspects of Java: Java ME, Java SE, Java EE, garbage collection, JavaFX and Jini, to name just a few. Along the way, I’ve had the chance to meet many, many thousands of Java developers and fellow advocates who share my passion for Java.

The best thing for me is that, having left Oracle back in 2015, I was able to find a very comfortable home here at Azul. As Azul is focused purely on Java runtimes and a strong supporter of the wider Java community, it allows me to continue my passion for helping people understand the latest and greatest features of Java SE, our Zing high-performance JVM,the Zulu supported build of OpenJDK and Zulu for embedded applications.

Here’s to the next twenty years of Speakjava!

(Maybe not, as I’ll be 74 by then)