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InfoQ Homepage News Emerging Technologies for the Enterprise Conference 2017: Day Two Recap

Emerging Technologies for the Enterprise Conference 2017: Day Two Recap

Day Two of the 12th annual Emerging Technologies for the Enterprise (ETE) Conference was held on April 19, 2017 at the Society Hill Sheraton in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This two-day event was organized by Chariot Solutions, a Fort Washington, Pennsylvania based IT consulting company. It included a keynote by Scott Hanselman (podcaster and principal program manager at Microsoft) and featured speakers Kyle Daigle (engineering manager at GitHub), Holden Karau (principal software engineer at IBM), Karen Kinnear (JVM technical lead at Oracle), Alex Miller (co-author of Clojure Applied), and Mike Roberts (co-founder of Symphonia).

Keynote Address

Scott Hanselman, podcaster and principal program manager, Outreach & Community, Open Source at Microsoft, kicked off the day-two activities with a humorous keynote address entitled A History from Back-end to Front-end: from Mainframes to Compiled JavaScript and Beyond. Hanselman quoted Thomas J. Watson, chairman of IBM in the very early days of computing (1949-1956), who once said, “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”

Hanselman focused on the early days of the world wide web and the emergence of JavaScript. “Once upon a time”, he said, “HTML tables were the most advanced thing there was with websites.” From its early days as LiveScript to JavaScript as it is known today, he explored how JavaScript evolved over the years. When Hanselman referenced the book Secrets of a JavaScript Ninja, he questioned if the person on the cover actually looked like a ninja. Hanselman joked, “well, JavaScript is loosely typed.”

As JavaScript grew in popularity, Stack Overflow/Stack Exchange co-founder, Jeff Atwood, in 2007 created a corollary to Tim Berner-Lee’s The Rule of Least Power. Known as Atwood’s Law, it states that “any application that can be written in JavaScript will eventually be written in JavaScript.” In 2011, Hanselman examined how JavaScript is the assembly language for the web. He also maintained that “no one writes JavaScript anymore, they use jQuery.” Hanselman demonstrated an on-line JavaScript PC Emulator that runs in the browser and includes a terminal window.

Hanselman said that developers should expect more from web tools, as today’s browsers are deceptively powerful. He also maintained that plug-ins are “dead; all gone.”

Hanselman also discussed the emergence of the cloud with its massive scale and elasticity. He stated that developers have their choice of languages for cloud development as “the cloud doesn’t care about language choice.”

Despite how web development has evolved over the years, Hanselman maintained that we are still sending “stuff” to the “refrigerator.” He explained that “mainframes look like refrigerators, so we are still sending stuff to the theoretical ‘refrigerator in the sky’ - the cloud.”

Highlighted Talks

Java Futures: Modules and More by Karen Kinnear, JVM runtime lead at Oracle.

Kinnear provided a comprehensive introduction to Java 9, focusing on the new module system, and a review of the Java 9-specific JEPs. Among the goals for Java 9 are enhancing developer productivity and improving Java for the cloud. The new module system can be integrated into existing applications, maintains Kinnear, and she demonstrated the interaction and accessibility between modules and packages, and how a module path is different from a class path. She also discussed how developers can migrate to Java 9, particularly when there are incompatible changes, while maintaining backward compatibility.

Scaling with Apache Spark (or a Lesson in Unintended Consequences) by Holden Karau, principal software engineer at IBM Spark Technology Center.

Karau discussed the challenges of processing Resilient Distributed Datasets (RDDs) including DataFrames and Datasets. She focused on partitioning in particular, expressing the importance of “key skew,” i.e., keys that aren’t evenly distributed. Key skew can lead to unbalanced data partitions, and Karau shared some methods for avoiding the pitfalls of working with them. She stressed that using the method groupByKey(), which groups all records with the same key into a single record, can yield to disastrous results when applied to unbalanced data. Karau also provided a brief overview of PySpark, the Spark Python API.

Clojure.spec: Expressing Data Constraints without Types by Alex Miller, co-author of Clojure Applied and Clojure committer.

Miller introduced Clojure.spec, a Clojure library for describing the structure of data and functions. It was designed to provide automatic attributes to the language such as validation, error reporting, shared semantics, and generation of test data. Clojure.spec is not a type system as the philosophy is to focus on data. Miller provided numerous source code examples on how to use Clojure.spec with various features of the core language.

Universal React with Next.js by Guillermo Rauch, co-creator of Next.js.

Rauch described how Next.js is “universal React.js, made easy and simple”: universal because it runs on both server and client; easy because there’s only one command for the most frequent tasks; simple because it has well-defined boundaries and behaves consistently and predictably. He maintained that he “should be able to render simple websites or powerful dynamic realtime apps with one universal programming model (React) and language (JS).” Rauch introduced the Hacker News website as a demonstration. His slides can be found on his website.


In summary, day one featured a total of 25 talks, ranging in topics from Java 9, Haskell, TensorFlow, Swift, Apache Spark, Containers, Convox, C#, F#, Agile, and GraphQL.

Editor’s Note

Michael Redlich has been an active participant in ETE since 2008 as an attendee, a speaker, and more recently, as a member of the ETE Steering Committee since 2013.

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