JEEConf 2012 trip report

What do Eastern European developers do on their free Saturday? Well, at least 650 of them go and attend a technical conference: JEEConf in Kiev, Ukraine. This is the second year that JEEConf is organized, and they've already grown from 400 attendants last year to 650 this year, coming from 9 countries surrounding Ukraine. I was invited to give two talks, one on Hibernate Performance Tuning and another on Scala & Lift.

How on earth does a Dutch guy end up on a Eastern European Java conference? Yeah, I had the same question. Turns out that the Hibernate Performance Tuning presentation I put on Slideshare a while ago is quite popular: more than 12,000 views to date. Among those viewers was one of the organizers of JEEConf, who happened to stumble upon a Hibernate performance problem. And then he thought it might be a good idea to let me explain it in person. Thanks Mikalai!

Conference day

My first talk was at 11am, right after the opening by Oracle's Arun Gupta on the future of Java EE. The nice thing about my Hibernate Performance Tuning talk is that almost everyone can relate to it. Since Hibernate practically is the de facto standard implementation for Object Relational Mapping, almost the whole audience had experience with it. Whether those are good or bad experiences I'll leave up for discussion... This led to some nice discussions and questions afterwards. Below you can view the slides, it's a slightly updated version of the original presentation:

The Scala & Lift talk was scheduled later in the afternoon. Fortunately there were a few other talks in English, because any Russian beyond 'da', 'njet' and 'spasiba' is lost on me. I got lots of question during my session on Lift, people were really interested. It will be interesting to see how Lift usage develops now that Typesafe has 'officially blessed' Play 2 as official webframework for Scala. Anyway, here are the slides:

A nice touch at JEEConf is the fact that every attendee gets some 'thank you' cards to write a comment on for the speakers. The idea is to hand them over directly after the talk. Therefore the act of giving feedback gets a personal touch!

Thank you cards

Meeting new people

To me, the most interesting part of going to conferences is meeting new people and exchanging experiences. For example, I discovered that (Dutch Craigslist equivalent) outsources a lot of its development to Ukraine. Interestingly, they're migrating from Java/Hibernate to Scala/Squeryl with great success.

Since we shared the same hotel, I also got to hang out with Dejan Bosanac. He works for FuseSource and is a committer on several Apache projects. We had great fun discussing topics ranging from the next-generation Scala-based implementation of ActiveMQ (ActiveMQ Apollo) to Serbian and Dutch politics.


Since I arrived a day early and left the day after the conference, I had some spare time to explore the city. By the way, arriving in Ukraine is a sobering experience: I couldn't read a single sign (Cyrillic) or understand a single word. Fortunately the organisation arranged a taxi to take me to the hotel. After settling in I explored some of the sights in Kiev's city center. All in all it was a great experience, a great conference and met some cool new people. What more could you ask for? Well, may be for some pictures to finish this post:

Conference venue

The JEEConf venue

Arun Gupta presenting Java EE 7

Arun Gupta presenting Java EE 7 to a packed room

Audience assembling before my Hibernate Performance Tuning talk Audience assembling before my Hibernate Performance Tuning talk

Church in Kiev Colorful churches enough in Kiev!

Main street closed off for the weekend Closing the main street for the weekend? Good idea!

Red university building Beautiful Kiev University building

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