Following hot on the heels of OpenCF Summit in Dallas, I headed to England (this time with my wife) for Scotch on the Rocks in beautiful Edinburgh, Scotland. I spent a lot of time engaged in hallway talks during the day and long discussions in the bar during the evenings so I must confess that I saw very, very few of the sessions. I would have attended more sessions but I was generally a bit late to each one (due to aforementioned hallway conversations) and it seemed that every session I wanted to attended was already completely packed out the door - my sense is that the Apex International Hotel, while perfectly wonderful in many ways, doesn't have enough large conference rooms to handle the number of attendees that Scotch is attracting these days.
With that complaint out of the way, how was the conference? Well organized, well attended and packed with great content. Adobe kicked off day one with a look at ColdFusion Builder 2 - very impressive! - and the news that the public beta is available on Adobe Labs. I've been impressed with ColdFusion Builder since launch - I bought my copy the day it was released (within minutes of release, in fact) and it's been open pretty much 24x7 on my main development machine ever since. I think it's a great productivity tool and well worth the $299 sticker price. When I saw Ram Kulkarni preview some of the new Builder 2 features at MAX, I drooled. This would make me even more productive! And now the beta is here, everyone can see the new features with massive improvements in performance, code assist, keyboard shortcut productivity and several major enhancements to the extensions functionality, this is definitely a major release and I'll be upgrading as soon as that's officially possible. Kudos to the Adobe engineering team, two of whom were at Scotch, for all their hard work on this great IDE!
After a short homage to the departing product manager, Adam Lehman, he took the stage to provide some early information about ColdFusion X. Promising to be the "biggest release ever", Adam started out with some infrastructure changes: the long-overdue replacement of JRun with Tomcat, the long-overdue removal of Verity (now we have Solr / Lucene) and the long-overdue addition of Axis 2 (with Axis 1 likely to be removed in CF11). Next up, a complete overhaul of the scheduled task system. There were a few other things but one that caught my eye was the addition of closures, something I've wanted in CFML for several years (now all we need is a decent collection class library to use them with). I was a bit surprised by how muted the audience response seemed to be - perhaps the impact of these important changes won't be understood by most CFers until they see what other changes this enables in the product (swapping JRun for Tomcat should improve stability and performance, as well as opening up a whole new world of tooling and support and add-ons that Tomcat provides access to).
I wanted to attend Ben Nadel's talk on regex but it was completely packed. I took in a bit of Peter Bell's talk on requirements and estimating but I've seen versions of it before (although it had some major new stuff in it this time around - and will be getting a complete overhaul before cf.Objective()!).
Next up was my FW/1 talk and we had to start a bit late because the room was over-heated and over-full and Andy Allan brought glasses of water for everyone to help folks stay cool! The talk seemed to go well and, judging from the buzz on Twitter, was very well received - I'll blog about FW/1 and plans for new releases shortly!
I missed a couple of sessions but really wanted to go to Rob Rawlins' "The Pen Is Mightier Than The Keyboard" but it was completely packed and I couldn't get in (and according to Twitter, it was great!). Somehow I missed the Adobe: Meet The Team session - more hallway conversations, I think - and then it was into the bar for a long night of networking and chit-chat (OK, and beer).
Day two kicked off with a keynote from Mark Drew and Gert Franz that echoed many of the sentiments from the OpenCF Summit: be proud of CFML, get involved with open source - applications will help grow the CFML community, not utilities / frameworks. Gert followed that with a look at some of the innovations in Railo 3.3 and Railo 4.0 including distributed session storage, command line CFML, deep Java integration (some of which looks planned for ColdFusion X), closures (also in ColdFusion X), cfscript language="java" and so on. Judging from Twitter, it was well-received (I didn't actually attend - it was too full by the time I got there, again!).
I wanted to attend John Whish's talk on ValidateThis but - guess what? - it was in the small conference room and completely packed so I couldn't get in. I gather than Ray Camden's jQuery Mobile talk was excellent, despite some early technical problems. I did, however, get into Andy Allan's "Home for 5pm" talk which was absolutely awesome! He talked about how much time and productivity we lose with task switching - we're in the middle of something, get interrupted, have to switch to some other issue and then waste time getting ourselves back to where we were. The solution, he proposed, is Mylyn and/or Tasktop. These Eclipse plugins keep track of "context", which files are open, what tickets you're working on, and so on, and make switching tasks pretty much automated. I had tried Mylyn before but didn't really "get it"... during Andy's talk I'd installed Mylyn on my netbook along with the Unfuddle plugin and was quickly able to switch between active tasks and have Eclipse automatically open and close all the relevant files for me! Amazing! For me, this talk alone would have been worth the price of entry, in terms of the productivity it's given me!
That sort of ended the conference on a high for me - I got caught up in several long hallway conversations and missed the last two sessions! The evening was, of course, another long one with lots more networking, chit-chat and beer.
The Apex International Hotel is a lovely venue with terrific views of the imposing castle, especially from the fifth floor restaurant (which has excellent food). The bar stays open nice and late (for hotel residents). Lots of options for excellent food (and drink) are within easy walking distance. My only complaint is the size of the conference rooms - something I hope the Fuzzy Orange crew will address for next year.
The next day my wife and I took Ray Camden up around Loch Ness - using the quiet, mostly single track road that winds along the eastern edge of the Loch and where you can get right down to the surface of the water - beautiful! Here are some pictures I posted on Facebook (you don't need to be on Facebook to view them!) and you'll see four of Ray on the phone, telling his family back home that he's "actually standing on the edge of friggin' Loch Ness!!!" - it was a very cute moment!
My wife and I went on to rack up 1,300 miles on our rental car visiting friends and family all over the UK, followed by a trip to Denver for a cat show, before getting home, whereupon I took to my bed, sick, for 36 hours... which is why these two conference write-ups have been a bit slow coming!