BorCon, the annual conference hosted by Scotts Valley, Calif.-based Borland Software Corp., is a good place to discover which hot topics are getting the most attention from the development community these days.
The conference drew more than 2,000 people from around the globe. They gathered this week in San Jose, Calif., to network with peers and explore new trends. The show included more than 200 sessions dedicated to topics that ranged from Java programming to high-level project management strategies.
There was a lot of talk about the rise of Microsoft's .NET initiative. Some of that buzz may be explained by the recent announcement of Borland's new product, Delphi 8 for the .NET Framework, which enables users to migrate Win32 Delphi applications to .NET.
Many conference attendees said they believe Microsoft is poised for a big .NET push in the years ahead. But Larry Payne Sr., an application developer at Milsoft Integrated Solutions Inc., in Abilene, Texas, did not believe J2EE would be too threatened. "Still, I do foresee Microsoft driving the enterprise platform market over the next few years," he said. ".NET is going strong, and Microsoft has the muscle to keep the pressure up."
Another area that has the development community paying attention is mobile computing. Dean Mills, a software engineer at Total Care, which develops mobile solutions for hospitals around the world, said there has been a surge in demand during the last year. The trick, Mills said, is to deliver the goods without locking yourself in too tightly with a specific vendor or portal. Instead, strive for flexibility, he said. That way, you can quickly take advantage of up-and-coming trends, whether they involve .NET or not, Mills said.
Not surprisingly, the topic of offshore IT outsourcing came up often at BorCon. Development is a primary target for outsourcing, but many attendees said they were not yet panicked by the trend. Many of them said they feel protected because they have carved out a niche in a job that requires them to be at a specific location.
Attendees were given a chance to try Borland's latest version of its popular JBuilder Java development tool, JBuilder X. Because it has more than 100 new or enhanced features, it can take some time to get comfortable with JBuilder X, but the product was well received at BorCon.
"Simply put, this is a really neat product," said Tseliso Mosivoa, lead developer at First National Bank of South Africa. "There have been noticeable changes [compared with JBuilder 9] and some of the functions are not entirely intuitive. Fortunately, the built-in help is good, so you can figure it out pretty easily."
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