Peter Pilgrim is professional software developer, designer and architect. Since 1998 he has worked in the financial services industry, investment banking mainly, developing IT for clients. He is a well known specialist in Java Enterprise Edition (Java EE) technology, focused on the server-side and the implementation of electronic commerce. Peter has built professional Java EE apps for top-tier investment banks such as Lloyds Banking Group, UBS, Credit Suisse, Royal Bank of Scotland and Deutsche Bank. Peter is the 91st Oracle Java Champion. Peter is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 34 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Has the Interest in Java Peaked in London?

  • submit to reddit

Has the interest in Java peaked in London? What about the rest of the United Kingdom? There are many of you, who were around in early 2008, might remember that Eoin Woods decided to close the London Enterprise Java User’s Group EJUG ( . He moved on to contribute in the software architect movement, especially in the UK.

There was Nathan Sawathekey’s JSIG ( which was until a few years ago was very popular for getting the heads up Java technology. For instance, Jason van Zyl presented Maven 2.0 way back in 2006, and where I met up with him and asked for a JAVAWUG talk. JSIG regularly held lunchtime meet-ups at Sun Microsystem’s office in London. Unfortunately for the entire London Java community, Nathan put the JSIG in hibernation way back in 2007. It is still a sleep.

There is,then, also the Coding the Architecture group ( . In London, it was run by Simon Brown until last year, before he decided to move back to Jersey. I am unsure if they are regularly meeting now.

It seems many Java user groups have sunk without a trace. The most troubling trend is that there, whilst we all have work, life and families. I believe that the Java activities and communities are rather slowing down now. I am not exactly sure why it is slowing down particularly in London, where there is still plenty of work advertised using Java. Professionally we are still using Java, but is it because we want to or is it because we have to or rather we are told that the have to?

Those of us who are going to conferences, like Devoxx ( have been to quite a few in the past years, may have a similar view. Attendances are down compared to the boom years, however, the QCon London 2009 event in Spring, surprised us all and it was still very attended. There are already publishing QCon London 2010.


Overall, I suspect that Java is becoming a niché technology as the rest of the JVM landscape takes shape. In other words we are becoming divided into regions, following the programming languages, even though the platform stays the same. So are developers, designers and architects fragmented in their minds on how they view the perceived value of the Java ecosystem at least in the UK? Or is this a symptom that the recession also triggers a malaisé in innovation, experimentation and motivation? 

It is very difficult to bring quality to an event organising business or club, if you do not find the support or the motivation to continue. If the audience are not interested, then as an organiser then you cannot get the best acts. If you don't believe me look at companies like ... and you realise that is a Catch 22 situation and something must give. It's time for my favourite word: innovation. New blood more be born or is that "join this earth". [Metallica - Ah nevermind, Nirvana - Sorry these pun should be forgetten because I am digressing ...]

Everyone sort of knows that the best time to push a new idea or a start-up business is in a recession, because the labour and operational costs are cheaper, presumably. Yet it is only the few of us, who are very brave and have enough courage to go at it, often alone, without support. In a recession we tend to keep more to our selves, become very dysfunctional, share less, trust less than we ever did. Of course, trust is the key word, because there is distinct lack of it in a recession. Paradoxically, it is the because we are trying less that we accuse others more of their lack enthusiasm. Again it is a perceived idea. The vector of change across society is smaller in magnitude and change slows down. How can we, then, affect new change? One thing is that we should take more responsibility for our community and our actions. We should all accept the role of leader and stop following and start doing more of what we want the world to become. Contribute ideas and help us. A sorry excuse, is to blame the lack of money, because that did not prevent Dyson, Edison, Levi's Roots, Roddick or countless others from succeeding. They all decided to work around the problem of money and never loss motivation for achieving! We must make more time to experiment and share our experiences. The second excuse is to blame, a lack of time. The answer to that riddle has been known for a very long time, we make the time. The third excuse is to say it is too much effort. What? Don't you know that journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Enough said.


Published at DZone with permission of Peter Pilgrim, author and DZone MVB.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)



Casper Bang replied on Tue, 2009/10/06 - 5:21am

I doubt this is unique to the UK. I now mostly use Java because I have to. Don't get me wrong, Java had a nice good long run but its heavy weight and lack of innovation just leaves me uninspired. Once former Java-only conferences are broading out as well (i.e. current ongoing JAOO here in Denmark) so I think this is a general trend. And how could it be any other way, when the language has stopped keeping up and Sun appears to be comfortable enough riding the legacy lane?

I don't think we need to make up excuses. The fact remains that good developers (those who actually cares) desires good tools that help advance the state of the art. This is in stark contrast to corporations who instead desires standardization and stability. So startups and hobby projects will increasingly use grassroot / buttom-up technologies while coorporations will continue to have plenty of Java code to maintain. The problem here is just that eventually you won't have any truly skilled people left in this latter camp as they will all have fled to more greener pastures. Computer science version of survival of the fittest?!

Bruno Vernay replied on Tue, 2009/10/06 - 9:09am in response to: Casper Bang

I saw 3 JUG creation in the last 6 month in French cities near mine.

A JUG isn't restricted to the Java language. There is a rich environment : Maven, FindBug, IDE ...  other language Scala, libraries, standards and so on and so forth


Martijn Verburg replied on Wed, 2009/10/07 - 4:32am

Peter, I'm pretty surprised you've missed at least one very large active group, the London Java Community. It's grown very rapidly to almost 700 members now, we're certainly not seeing a decline in interest! Disclaimer: I'm a co-orgainser of this group Cheers, Martijn

Martijn Verburg replied on Wed, 2009/10/07 - 5:47am in response to: Martijn Verburg

I'll add that we certainly host events that aren't pure Java, e.g. Build Tools, CI, Patterns, other languages on the JVM etc. So I guess from where we're standing there's no longer a focus on 100% Java...

Frank Silbermann replied on Wed, 2009/10/07 - 8:35am

There also used to be a local user group for people who owned personal computers.  That, too, has dissoved.  I wonder if that means people are just not interested in using PCs anymore.

Shaw Gar replied on Wed, 2009/10/07 - 1:27pm in response to: Casper Bang

The heavy weight nature of Java is slowly going away. EJB 3/3.1 offers some hope. But, overall it's quite heavy when compared to .NET. .NET is not very elegant though, and their ASP.NET MVC sucks a lot when compared to what we have in Java. Anyway, I'm curious. What other technologies interest you more than Java?

vlad varnica replied on Thu, 2009/10/08 - 6:54am

I was an active member the French Java user group in Paris. Unfortunately I had to move to UK and the user group was not active anymore. I am pleased to know that others JUG are trying to give life to user groups in France.

In the last few years I am asking myself what is going wrong with Java and it seems that I am not the only one. What I will say could seems strange but this is my personnal point of view and not related to any company or Jug

First problem is the framework complexity. You need for example more than 18 months just to be able to use EMF. This is now in this difficult financial period a definitive no go to invest in EMF.I think that the framework complexity is not just an EMF problem, it the same if you look at JPA, Hibernate, Wen services etc....

Second problem is the open source destruction of value. Please don't think this is a provocation but let me explain my point of view. In our company we have invested in R&D and have created a research lab with over 20 members. Our UML tool was getting better and better and new innovations were permanently done. The problem we faced is that open source project have given good tools for free. Our business has collapsed and now we have stopped new research projects and are just fixing bugs because new projects doesn't generate enough revenue to be reliable. It means that Open source has transform development tools into commodities and now small companies are not investing anymore and not creating new jobs, investing into JUGs, sponsoring, training etc...An entire business market has disappeared !!

Third problem is that the open source community is not spending more time on software usability but on permanently changing and updating the architecture of the software. The result is that every six months you have a new release which include latest improvements but don't give any value at usability point of view. Open source are more and more complex and less and less usable therefore less and less used by the community.

Fourth problem is the open source community which is very unstable and small. I mean that except very large projects such Mozilla, CVS, Eclipse core (e.g. not plugins), Tomcat etc...other open source projects are usually developed by one to 3 members. You can for example have 10 developers on the mailing list but just one is really codding. It means that because the numbers of developers is small and not full time, the code is improving very slowly even if it seems it is fast. I mean that new software architecture doesn't always means quality and respect of usability. There is not project manager and therefore developers are enjoying to code what they love and not what is needed.

Fith problem is that the community is more a user than a contributor community. I mean that except few members many users are just waiting for the new build. The companies adoption of the open source is mainly related to money saving on software licence and not on contributing in order to share return of experiences and have a better software.

My vision for the next few years is that either Java small Independent Software Vendors survive and then help again to Java innovations or only 100% open source remains and Java communities or Jugs could slowly disapear. Among my friends I feel very uncomfortable because some of them have created incredible frameworks which are worldwide used and well known and have heavily contributed to the community. The today's problem is that they can't live from their open source job and don't also find consulting jobs. It is a very serious problem and to see master or Phd with 10 years of experience not having enough money to live is really difficult to accept. Companies using the open source tool every day doesn't know what is going on and believe everything is free and therefore the world is perfect. This Java world is crap if developers can not make a living from their java codding jobs !!


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.