Wandering the UK

I spent last week wandering the UK. Mostly in London, but I spent a great day at a developer conference for GCHQ where I gave a keynote and was on a panel about agile development. It was a pretty spirited group and a lot of fun.

In London I gave talks at a pile of companies: mostly financial institutions, all heavy Java users. I'm always amazed at the cool things bankers do: not at all like the stodgy stereotype at all. They seemed really happy to get into geekish deep dives, if only to distract themselves from everything else that's going on. I ended the trip at a developer event at the Royal Geographic Society.

One thing I kept getting asked about was using real-time for transaction servers. The reason they're all interested is because the real-time VM has a garbage collector that has guaranteed maximum pause times. While this does work very well, it is often overkill. One of the cool new pieces of technology on the Java landscape is the Garbage First (G1) collector. It was presented at the last JavaOne, but not available then. For details, you should read the excellent paper on it. Continuing our recent habit of sliding major functionality into update releases, G1 is going to be in JDK6 update 14, which is currently in beta and available through the early-access program. If you have issues with large heaps, multicore, or pause times, give it a try. We'd love to hear your testing feedback.

March 24, 2009