Oisín Hurley's Weblog

old dog, new tricks

EclipseCon 2010 Retrospective

with 12 comments

It’s nearly time to return to our scheduled programming, but first a quick retrospective of EclipseCon 2010.

Oisin Rejected My Talk

The danger with writing a retrospective like this is that it can rapidly become a screed of great proportions and hit everyone’s tl;dr button. So I’ll keep this short. What I am reporting here is my own experience plus feedback from both presenter and non-presented folk. I’ll keep the format of the previous articles to focus it.


This was a great success this year – better than years when there were half again as many attendees. My only regret was that I missed out on a teeshirt on the first day! Much appreciation to Kim Moir for, er, running with this.


The keynote from Oracle was a lacklustre affair – and watching some of the tweetage that was coming out from their panel later in the day, it’s no surprise since Oracle don’t appear to have decided what they are up to. Especially with the retention of three UIs – Eclipse, JDeveloper and Netbeans. Come budget time, the VP or whoever at the pointy end of controlling those three groups will have to get the hatchet out. Which will fall? JDeveloper is ensconced like a tick – parts of it are in core Oracle products (allegedly). I have to assume that the Netbeans team is larger than the Eclipse team, does that make them more likely to be kept? Of course, it won’t be that simple – perhaps the Netbeans Java tooling people could be transitioned to Eclipse to add more value to the JDT? Anyway, I’m sure we’ll be guessing for a while.

The NASA/JPL keynote from Jeff was a masterful performance – not only the content, which was bang on demographic for a crowd of developers and technophiles, but the structure and production values were excellent. I caught a couple of clips – here’s Jeff talking to David who is supervising the ATHLETE robot in the lab

and here is Jeff’s closing remarks with his Lego buddy Socrates

Robert “Uncle Bob” Martin (Roberto) presented the keynote on software professionalism and it too was excellent work, although on a totally different axis to Jeff’s. This man is a past master of the presentation style, fearless, emotive and ready to challenge his audience. Here’s some short extracts:

  • agile is about destroying the hope that keeps stupid plans alive
  • say no to all forms of bad code
  • say no to dropping your disciplines
  • say no to overtime – know your limits
  • say no to meetings – when the meeting gets boring, leave
  • say no to dumb restrictions on your development process

I think the talk unnerved some people (as evinced by -1’s in the red bucket), so good work Roberto!


I got a goodly amount of positive feedback that a tutorial-per-morning was a nice idea and something that people did look forward to. There was a bit of balancing feedback that some of the tutorials were somewhat disorganized, not fully prepared, had too many slides, didn’t have enough introductory information, or were missing required data. The Program Committee had a meeting on this and we have a couple of proposals to make sure that these kinds of issues won’t occur next year.


On balance, the 25-minute talks worked, I think. I had a lot of conference-goers saying that they were pleasantly surprised with the shorter format – they got a similar amount of information in a shorter time and could go to more talks. Most presenters stepped up to the plate and did a really good job on condensing their material and cut quickly to demos. Some didn’t and the talks were rushed and hassly. There were a couple of people who appeared to be personally upset about the timing – how on earth could you talk about anything in less than 35 minutes? They got my get over it lecture.

One the other hand, the 12-minute lightnings did not really work at all well this year compared to other years. I think it’s because so many speakers got instructed to cut from standard length to lightning and it was just too difficult to do. I’m thinking we might revisit that for next year.

Feedback was on the high side for good talks, however some donkeys were brought to light too.


The panels I went to were good. The quality of the moderation was tip-top, the preparation was good, and all were conducted in good humour and with great candour. Controversy can work well in a panel, but it appears that good, solid, experiential data works well too. Big shout out to Dave Carver for his innovative Jeopardy-style approach in moderating the Build and Continuous Integration Panel and use of “the Undead” as a question category 🙂

BoFs and Unconference

This year we seemed to be totally BoF-tastic, with a great amount of activity going on there, but the Unconference got little support. Lesson learned here – the crowd at the ‘Con are more interested in getting together in a social group for listen and learn rather than stepping up and doing their own off-piste talks.

Divers Alarums – being a gallimaufry of tatterdemalion conference qualia
  • e4 Rover Programming Competition – wow, this was a runaway success and frankly will be hard to top. Huge kudos to the NASA guys, Ian, Boris and Ben
  • EclipseCon Tweetup – informal meeting in the bar, always works for me 😉
  • Don‘s sense of humour – “I’m stalling…and you’re all leaving…and now I’ve lost all credibility…”
  • Sergey P’s phones – classic
  • Giving us mugs instead of little rinky-dink cups for coffee – most essential
  • The general buzz around the place since we were in a smaller area was great
Thanks to all…

Well it looks like this turned out to be a screed after all. I hope you enjoyed the conference. I’ll finished with thanks to many people that made the conference work – attendees, thank you for coming; presenters, thank you for presenting your work; keynoters, thank you for crafting your keynotes and delivering them to a tough crowd; program committee, thank you for the hard graft coming up to program announce date; Don, Anne, Gabe, Ian, Lynn, Mary, thank you for hard work in the logistics and outreach departments!

And with that, I leave you all in the safe and capable hands of Chris Aniszczyk, Eclipse Committer, runner, author and Program Chair for EclipseCon 2011.

EclipseCon Stalwarts Quenching Their Thirst



Written by oisinhurley

March 31, 2010 at 9:30 am

12 Responses

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  1. Thanks, Oisin. It was a great conference!

    Sven Efftinge

    March 31, 2010 at 10:07 am

  2. Oisin,

    Great job on the program. I know it was a ton of work on your part to pull EclipseCon together. But the result was a great conference. Thanks!!

    Mike Milinkovich

    March 31, 2010 at 10:55 am

  3. Oisin,
    this was a really great conference and I also liked the short formats of 25 or 12 minutes. I really was able to demonstrate nearly the same in 25 minutes then in 45 as I normaly have.
    the lightning talks also went well for me – suprisingly how much can be told in 12 minutes –
    the only problem was, that other speakers (from same block of lightning talks) dont finished their parts in the given time frame. I also don’t know how you count the votes of such a block if their are lightning talks of very different quality.
    daily morning-workshops are a really great idea and I like this very much. but next time it would be fine, if the tutorial rooms have WLAN access.
    thx for your and Don’s work.


    March 31, 2010 at 11:10 am

  4. “…that other speakers (from same block of lightning talks) dont finished their parts in the given time frame.”

    Oh, I have a solution for this already next year 🙂

    Thanks for your feedback Ekke.

    Chris Aniszczyk

    March 31, 2010 at 12:20 pm

  5. Great summary Oisin! I really enjoyed EclipseCon this year. Thanks to you and all the organizers for all the hard work to make it successful.

    Kim Moir

    March 31, 2010 at 1:11 pm

  6. I really enjoyed this EclipseCon, thanks Oisin!

    Kai Tödter

    March 31, 2010 at 1:20 pm

  7. Oh also Oisin, thanks for your kind words.

    I have some big shoes to fill for next year 🙂

    Chris Aniszczyk

    March 31, 2010 at 1:29 pm

  8. Thanks for a great conference, even if I couldn’t make it. Hopefully you managed to get some job contacts whilst you were there as well. I posted a summary over at InfoQ to go with my daily write ups on my blog; hope they captured the sprit of the event. And you can go home knowing that you were responsible for sourcing the best keynote presentation ever!


    Alex Blewitt

    March 31, 2010 at 2:45 pm

  9. Thanks Oisin for a really great conference, awesome keynotes (one of them with standing ovations) and superb content. Great job !

    Bernhard Merkle

    March 31, 2010 at 6:03 pm

  10. You guys really pulled it off… Awesome conference, thanks for everything!

    Denis Roy

    March 31, 2010 at 7:13 pm

  11. Thank Oisin for this fantastic conference. The conference was pure fun. A big thank you for that.

    Lars Vogel

    April 2, 2010 at 3:21 am

  12. […] attended the previous four instances of the conference, and had the signal honour to have been the Program Chair for EclipseCon 2010. Now, alas, I’ve lapsed. Instead of getting a nice easy job after my release from Progress […]

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