In 2007 I graduated the University of Warwick and moved to London with a job ready to start in September. The toolbox was armed with a very broad range of practical and theoretical skills from my MEng Computer Science degree. At this stage of a graduate's career they are eager to dive right in and write as much production code as possible, I was no different. I was lucky enough to have a manager who was able to point out the craft of Software Development and how design and consideration of building products would have a significant impact in my long term career. These one hour meetings in the pub were the most valuable meetings I could have had.
I wanted to learn more and looked for online resources. The first thing I picked up that September was a Podcast called The Java Posse - still going today and definitely worth a listen for developers of all levels. JUGs (Java User Groups) were mentioned, and I took a look to see if there was one in London and at this point was shocked that there wasn't an official or unofficial JUG I could find. As I was about to move to New York I didn't follow up on this further, continued to listen to my podcasts and built on learning to build scalable and maintainable systems within investment banks for the next 2 years.
Sometime towards the middle of 2009 I met a contractor who was active in the Java Community, he mentioned the London Java Community and another Java Community based in London. Little did I know that when I looked in September 2007, Barry Cranford a few months later had formed the London Java Community. My initial response to a recruiter running a community was apprehensive, then in late 2009 I attended my first event The Unconference and this changed everything.
I met Barry and realised this wasn't the same breed as the recruiters who phoned me up on a daily basis. It was a normal guy, a little nervous about speaking to many developers (not that you would know this now) and had worked tirelessly with friends in the community to arrange the conference. The diversity in the community right from the beginning was top of the game, everyone was welcome irrespective of background. I felt right at home, people talking about Java on a Saturday - this was amazing. Barry is to thank for starting one of the most active and successful JUGs.
I suddenly recognised a familiar face, after a few gulps of coffee I realised it was a someone who had given me one of the most technical grillings I have ever received to date! When I say grilling I mean pushed me in an interview to bring the best out of my technical ability, and thankfully it was a successful interview. Ben Evans is one of the Java kings in London and has pushed me both technically and to contribute to the community ever since, informally a great mentor and a fantastic friend. I also met at the same time Martijn Verburg who has one of the best insights into best practices and strong development skills across the community. My work with Martijn was further in the future with the LJC JCP, and he too has been a great mentor and contributor to us making Java One.
My JUG membership for the next year was somewhat of a social one, working to greet and connect people in the community and helping to facilitate the running of the events with the LJC associates. Whilst this was fun I was looking for something that would get me more involved in the community and ultimately give me a platform to start speaking to larger audiences about Java technology and the surrounding ecosystem.
In July 2011 I started working with LJC JCP, and specifically helping to design the framework for adopting a JSR in the community. The targeted JSR was JSR-310, as Stephen Colebourne was based in the UK it made it easier for us to establish relationships. Initially as with all JSRs the main challenge is explaining the concept to other developers to maximize the input from community members. Later in 2011 I met Richard Warburton who has helped add some real power behind our Adopt a JSR efforts. The work we have done with the community and the efforts here will make up the main body of our talks for Java One. Although I had publicly spoken before, these were the first talks on Java with the community and these were well received. Following on from this we have also worked on helping with the TCK and helping validate the redesign of the API.
I'd like to thank all the people mentioned in this blog post and those that are not mentioned that have helped out along the way too, over 5 years and a short post I'm sure I have missed some people. For people who are looking to get involved in conference speaking or getting more involved and improving their Java skills I'd highly recommend working with people in your local Java User Group, as many of us in the London Java Community can testify anything is possible. Looking back on what I was thinking in 2007 I never thought the first time I was at Java One would be when I was speaking there!