I attended my first NFJS conference last weekend up in Columbus. Overall, it was an excellent experience. The speakers were all first rate and I got a chance to hang out and meet some other like-minded people who are interested in giving up a weekend to learn new technologies and generally just geek-out.
The main technologies that stood out to me are concurrency and semantic web. Concurrency and functional programming are becoming more and more important with the ability to scale out on the server, rather then scale up (horizontal vs vertical scaling). There is always some threshold to the amount of power that you can throw at one system. However, that limit disappears if you can spread the load out across many servers. Java runs into some real problems with threads and concurrency. For this reason, the functional languages like Scala, Erlang, and Clojure are really starting to shine. I was so impressed with Clojure, that I picked up a book for my “play around and take a look at” tech stack.
The highlight of the conference for me was on Sunday. I was fortunate enough to attend all of Brian Sletten’s sessions on REST, RDF, and all things Semantic Web. I was interested in the Semantic Web before I attended, but afterwards it is my new love. I have always been interested in databases and datasets, so discovering a technology that enriches data in a open distributed way across the web just made me giddy. The potential enterprise applications are very exciting. When RDF is combined with a HATEOS architecture, you have can have a robust, scalable, agile architecture that can integrate data across many different systems and datasources. These rich datasources can be sliced and diced for reporting and BI and can also be secured by row/ column level like security. On the e-commerce side of the Internet, even very simple implementations of RDF vocabularies are yielding very promising results. Best Buy put in a semantic web vocabulary on their website that resulted in 30% increase of sales. It is a very exciting time for semantic web technologies. I am a firm believer in that it is “ all about the data”. I think for the future it will be more like “Why have just data when you can have data with context?”
All in all, I had a great time and it was definitely worth the trip up to Columbus for the weekend. If you have chance to check out NFJS or any stuff about the Semantic Web or Functional Languages, go for it. You will enjoy it.