(cross-posted on java.net)

I’ve already talked about the Ajax conference that we over at Ajaxian.com are producing (May 10-12 in San Francisco; won’t you join us?). As I contemplate the great fun that we’ll have at that event, I’ve started thinking of my other love: desktop application development.

I spend the vast majority of my time developing Swing applications. I am more interested in desktop app development than pretty much any other programming discipline. As I work with other desktop application developers, I’m seeing a lot of gaps in our collective knowledge. Too many of us really don’t understand good UI design principles. Often, we haven’t taken the time to check out what our (WinForms, Cocoa, SWT, etc.) neighbors are up to. And, of course, wouldn’t it be nice to learn more from others about how to use our toolkit of choice more effectively?

Do you think it would be a good idea to hold a 1-2 day Desktop Application Development conference? I’m thinking such an event should have at least a 50% focus on user interface design issues (i.e., interaction design) with the other bit being about how to get the bits to actually do the interaction. I’m also wondering if it wouldn’t be a good idea to invite all desktop application development disciplines to speak and attend. I for one would be fascinated to hear talks from various foreign GUI toolkits about how their stuff works and what they’re up to.

Should it be a small, boutique, no-frills conference focused on intermediate/experts, or a larger, more general-interesting conference with a lot of introductory-level material? Should it have a Java-only focus, or is inviting the entire community interesting to you?

What do y’all think? Would holding such an event in the fall or winter of this year / early next year be a good idea?

10 thoughts on “A Desktop Application Developer’s Conference?

  1. Where is the registration form? I would love to attend such an event. Being a Swing developer, I did spend a lot of time learning other toolkits (QT, MFC, wxWdigets, Tk, GTK and now Cocoa) but it’s hard to find enough time and courage to do that. Anyways, I totally agree that at least 50% should be focused on user interface design (but please, targeted at developers, not designers 😉 I also think it’d be nice to have introductory material but meant for developers who already know how to develop GUIs (yes I know what a button or an event are). What’d be really cool would be to show side-by-side comparisons of major toolkits. Oh and lots of eye-candy! 🙂

  2. Gosh, yeah. We still have so far to go, and so many lessons learned seem to be lost. Does anyone even think about the two-second rule anymore? How do you write things to run under the browser *and* as a desktop app? Skinning versus OS-standard look-n-feel? I18N? Language as interface (REST, Address bar as the new command line)?

    You’d think the desktop application world had gone away, with the small attention it gets anymore; just not sexy (or trendy) enough I guess.

    I don’t do Java, but I think it’s a great idea.

  3. I think you have a wonderful idea. The era of rich clients on the desktop may have fallen out of favor recently; however, desktop development is not down for the count. I’m not certain the down turn in popularity is due to any lack of sex appeal. There were simply logistical advantages that gave web development an edge. Let’s face it, web development flat out SUCKS! Frankly, the effort needed to produce a quality user experiences via web development is starting to approach or even out strip that of desktop development. It’s time we desktop developers regain our rightful share of the hearts and minds of our users. Let’s sing the virtues of our platforms and architectures. Your conference idea sounds like an excellent vehicle to that end. With the advent of technologies like Java Web Start, the zero deployment argument, which the web development world has used as its anchor to favor, is rapidly fading away. We can simply produce better sovereign user experiences as described by Richard Pawson of Naked Objects fame. The time is right for the type of conference you describe. I would love to attend. Good luck.

  4. Sign me up also! I’ve been writing Swing and webstart for over two years and love it. It is such a better UI than the web experience. There are problems, but the benefits far outweigh those problems. I’d love to learn more and work more efficiently. I wanted to go to JavaOne because of all the great Java Desktop sessions, but it didn’t work out for me. I’ve been to a few NFJS’s and love them, but they don’t do Desktop justice. Let me know.

  5. Not sure why my original response didn’t make it. I’d definately come (and probably bring a couple of colleagues along). We have been doing Swing desktop application development for many years now.

  6. Whats the status of this? Is there enough interest? How soon could we get this going?


  7. It’s nice to see more focus on desktop Java. I’ve been doing Swing desktop apps for a while now and am convinces its as good if not better than anything else out there. I’d definitely come to such an event. Having it roughly 6 months separated from JavaOne would be a good thing… easier to request funding. Thanks.

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    My login is Kisakookoo!

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