I attended the Detroit Java User's Group meeting at ePrize in Pleasant Ridge last night.
See the Google Group for details on the organization, and the Yahoo Group for the mailing list. All you need to do to join the user group is add yourself to the mailing list.
The meeting was a good opportunity to connect with my fellow software nerds, and boasted a pretty good mix of different perspectives and skills. Many of the attendees were people who coded mainly in languages other than Java, including Groovy, Scala, Grails and Flex. One of the participants was a physicist working on a 3D visualization and site navigation interface, which struck me as a particularly interesting project.
The common use of other languages raised an interesting point that we discussed briefly - is Java on the way out? The consensus (which is something I heard from the Java Posse podcast some months ago) is that Java-as-a-language may or may not be, but Java-as-a-platform seems to be gaining ground. The evidence for this is fairly solid - many non-Java languages compile to JVM-executable bytecode, allowing access to the rich set of libraries that Java provides. This includes not only Groovy, Scala and Grails mentioned above, but also JRuby, and Jython, all of which have a significant following.
I won't weigh in on which is the "best" language, since the choice of language depends on many factors, not least of which are "will it do what you want?" and "can you get / do you have developers who are productive in it?"
The presentation itself was done by Srini Penchikala, who has written about Java and other topics many times. His chosen topic was Software Architecture, Then and Now. Srini focused on the different choices that architects have when designing a system, and on the advantages of some newer technologies, such as dependency injection, aspect oriented programming and annotations. (He recently blogged on this topic as well. Here is the direct link to his slide deck.)
Most of the meeting was spent in lively discussion, rather than passive listening. It was enjoyable and informative to follow the debate about annotations and object orientation, with several different points of view presented (and argued about).
Overall this was a pleasant experience that left me with a lot of food for thought. I'll be back next month.