The attendance figures put around for JavaOne 2009 state that there were "around 15,000" people at the Moscone Center -- hmm, that seems generous and it certainly felt a bit quieter than previous years. Not altogether unexpected with the economy impacting on travel, maybe people avoiding large congregations over concern of flu, and so on.
The main hall was arranged slightly differently, with the stage set up at the 'side' of the hall, with large back drapes hung across each end. Ushers did a good job of corralling people to the front, and there was a noticeably large representation from Sun themselves.
Like last year there was much talk of Sun's proprietary technology called "JavaFX", with demos of JavaFX running on a disparate variety of hardware (set top box, TV, phone, desktop). There was discussion of Java performance, as realized by the contributions made from new machine advances from Intel. Of course, it wasn't called out that the Nahelem numbers were published on IBM's Java implementation! There was a demo of the new Java market place where Sun, like others, are aiming to reproduce the success of an iTunes style store front to end users.
There was not much talk about Java SE 7 (Jonathan Schwartz did mistakenly announce it's availability, but was corrected by his Chief Engineer on stage the next day), and not much talk about OpenJDK or the JCP which were prominent topics of calls for community participation in previous years. NetBeans was also notably absent from the opening session.
The opening session was concluded by a moving 'good-bye' speech from Scott McNealy and a symbolic hand-over to Larry Ellison. During the hand-over Larry gave a challenge to the OpenOffice team to rewrite in JavaFX. He also said that Sun could be expected to produce notebooks running a Java-based OS in competition with Android.
Later in the week I gave a demo of the Apache Harmony runtime during the IBM general session. I showed Harmony running Eclipse and developing the NIO module using the Eclipse PDE, then went on to show Harmony running Geronimo and the Roller blogging webapp. Craig Hayman had slides of Harmony running the WebSphere eXtreme scale server too. With the existing modular architecture of Apache Harmony, it is trivial to build right-sized runtimes for each of these.
Many people have speculated that this may be the last JavaOne conference, but I don't think so. It is a well organized shop window for Sun/Oracle, and while it remains important to associate Java the ecosystem with a particular vendor I believe that the marketing event will survive.