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What goes around comes around. With JavaOne entering its 11th year, by now it has accumulated a history.

As a history major, I was taught that history doesn't go round in cycles. Actually, the profs were wrong. Blame human nature. Each generation thinks it has a new angle. In reality, we relearn the lessons of our ancestors.

In Java, it's no different. A decade ago, we were excited about the possibilities of Java applets to excite the browser. Meanwhile, a tiny start up called WebLogic, with an appserver with the weird name Tengah, made a bet on Enterprise Java beans before they – and J2EE, became standards.

A decade later, the Java world is looking once again at the client because of what Google Maps has shown what's possible. But our thoughts were brought back to reality when we spoke with a web services testing vendor that told us in spite of the attention toward Web 2.0, their booth got more inquiries this year than ever before.

So much for the power of hype. Here's our prediction: While JavaOne 2006 is all about the Web 2.0 client, we believe that JavaOne 2007 will be about connectivity.

The Crux

In the run up to JavaOne this year, most of the emails we received focused on the new wave of Ajax tooling for Java. Given the build up around Web 2.0, we're not terribly surprised that rich clients have become the dominant theme.

In so doing, the Java community has gone full circle. At our first JavaOne, nearly a decade ago, most of the attention centered on the possibilities of Java applets for animating web pages. Yet, at that same event, we saw a startup called WebLogic demonstrate how Java on the server could provide the solution for powering web sites that could host thousands of concurrent visitors interacting with highly complex enterprise applications.

As it turned out, rich Internet clients in 1997 proved an idea before its time for two reasons: bandwidth was lacking, and religious wars were being fought between sun and Microsoft for the client. By contrast, WebLogic made the right gamble on technologies that would later become part of J2EE. The company was subsequently acquired by BEA, and the rest was history.

The renewed attention of Java on the client can be summed up in two words: Google Maps. There, the recipe for success started with a technology that was simple, and a business model that made the technology accessible. But the clincher wasn't the technology alone, but the fact that mashing up Google Maps with other apps satisfied an unmet market need for the localized Internet. Just as Zagats proved that diners were hungry for restaurant guides reflecting the opinions of actual customers, Google Maps has proven that there is a real appetite for the localized Internet. For instance, people or advertisers are more than willing to pay for information regarding how much homes are selling for in their neighborhoods.


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