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ONJava 2005 Reader Survey Results, Part 2

by Chris Adamson

28. Is there anything else you'd like to tell our Java editors? We'd love to hear from you.

Last week's ONJava 2005 Reader Survey Results, Part 1 put off covering this question, because 226 of you chose to answer this free-response question, thus demanding a more complete consideration. This article includes every response sent in by readers, other than those that are simple "thanks/great job"-type responses, and the occasional non sequitur (e.g., writing "Mmmmm... donuts," as was the case with response no. 209). We haven't edited any of the responses for style, grammar, or anything else. Think of it as a raw, annotated feed of reader commentary.

Your Responses

Like to see you cover Jakarta commons more closely and other similar open-source packages. Best practices types of articles are the most beneficial.

Thanks. Covering the major open source frameworks is, outside of the Java library and core J2SE/J2EE libraries, our bread and butter. We'll take a look to see what in Jakarta merits more coverage.

There's a bug that unchecks question 2 if a required question wasn't answered. Just so you know :)

We'll let the survey people know, thanks.

Related Reading

Beyond Java

More articles on how to deploy and manage apps. Still a voodoo art.

You're right, J2SE deployment is a real pain point. Joshua Marinacci just did a two-parter on java.net about Java Web Start (parts 1 and 2), but there are other options: commercial apps like InstallAnywhere and InstallShield, Mac OS X .app's, etc.

Please update more frequently

As an advertising-supported site, there's only so much content we can acquire and produce, but all the O'Reilly Network sites are trying some new things to create fresher sites within that constraint. Keep watching this site and others in the network and let us know what you think.

Note: Eight other responses asked for more content or more frequent updates.

Well, I just saw the new "Building J2EE projects with Maven" article and laughed histerically... really, who in their right mind would build an enterprise project with that peice of crap? ;)

Um, OK. We've seen lots of people using Maven, but to each his own...

The RSS feeds are a bit flaky. Might be a Thunderbird issue, but other feeds seem to be fine.

Can you send a bug report to

Articles are too Oracle biased

Really? I looked through our database and we haven't run an article with Oracle in its title for years.

I love the cookbook style articles and books. I'd like to see more about interoperability between .NET and Java. We do loads of C# front ends and Java backends. SOAP is a PITA when moving bigger chunks around.

Interesting article idea, thanks.

I think there should be a shift in focus on the articles. Too many say, "Ooh look - this product has feature X, and here's how it works." It would be far more compelling if they said, "I'm going to build this useful/cool thing. Here's why product Y is the tool for the job, and here's how to get the best out of it."

I like this style of article too, but it doesn't always work in a 2,000-word space. The risk is that you can have too much "extra stuff" for building the cool app that doesn't really apply to "product Y," but needs to be shown as a basic part of building the cool thing. One thing we'll work on with an author is making sure the bulk of the article serves their real purpose. For example, sometimes the idea is to show how to build something, sometimes it's to show how a given API works. Those really are two different kinds of articles and while each is valuable, we try to help the author pick one and stay true to it.

1) Increase frequency of articles. Once a week is too less. 2) Cover a best of blog posts -- every quarter or so. 3) Cover Scott Berkun type articles

Blogs are going to be a bigger part of the site soon. Watch for them. Scott's stuff is great, and we hope you've enjoyed his articles from ONLamp, like How to Decide What Bugs to Fix, that we've featured on ONJava.

JOnAS is a J2EE application server, it should be listed :) it's even in redhat's distribution.

We listed it last year and about 2 percent of readers reported using it. This year, as a write-in, it got less than 1 percent.

More advanced stuff

In what sense of "advanced"? More in-depth on key things that lots of people use, or topics that are intrinsically advanced, like bytecode manipulation?

More in depth articles and less trivial ones (with information that can obtained directly from the web site of the product). More real scenarios and less hello world examples.

I think ONJava articles tend do to be "in-depth," with the limitation that we like to keep things around 2,000 words--longer articles just don't get read. We do like, "hello world," as a means of introducing a new technology, but of course, it's essential to move past that once the fundamentals are understood.

Nope.. well I'm thinking of writing an article for you :)

Send us a proposal and we'll talk. I generally ask writers for one to two paragraphs, five to 10 sentences, or five to 10 bullet points that establish:

  1. What the article is about
  2. Why it matters
  3. What specific items will be covered that deliver on 1 and 2.

I've found this is a good exercise to help writers focus on the value they provide to the reader.

like to see some more articles on leading edge java stuff and less basics

OK. We'll try to keep working on that.

Build a lab where you can really test the stuff you write about, don't write about something you haven't tested.

That's a tall order. We are somewhat limited in our ability to test code because we can't realistically maintain and run all the various app servers, databases, frameworks, etc., so we do expect a certain level of competence from our writers. If you see something wrong, please let us know in the article comments and we'll see what we can do.

I still visit your site daily, as I typically set it as my homepage. However, your articles have strayed towards specific OS projects, tools, and frameworks. This has greatly reduced the number of articles that am interested in or would use professionally, and therefore has reduced the amount of time I spend browsing the site. If you would return to topics that were more java centric and discussed features of J2SE and J2EE rather than the other projects, I am sure I would be reading much more. Thanks!

We do try to combine J2SE/EE articles, major third-party frameworks (especially open source), and "meta" articles (design, patterns, process, etc.). Thanks for the feedback.

we want more tools! frameworks are great, but there is still too much coding, we need to take a leaf out of the RoR book

Potential authors: topic alert!

I'd love to see an article/tutorial on using XML web services with J2ME devices. See (I think) JSR #120.

And there's another topic for an article proposal!

Love the site, would like to see more than a weekly update of content, doesn't have to be full articles.

Thanks. We'll be trying some different things. Let us know what you think.

I enjoy reading articles written by developers that follow this general format: 1. this is the problem I ran into while developing xyz; 2. this is an analysis of the problem and what caused it; 3. these are the various solutions; 4. This is why I picked solution x.

Good format. A key concern that I'll point out as an editor: how many people will run into the same problem? If it's something that effects everyone, this rocks. If the problem is confined to a small niche audience, we probably won't pursue this article.

It's important to discuss architectural patterns - which are oftenly forgotten.

Sounds like a good topic, thanks.

You seem to be losing focus. Possibly split the website up a bit more. The front page is far too eclectic and the zones are too specific.

Are you referring to the O'Reilly Network home page or ONJava's? Is there another way to split it up other than by topic (e.g., by how recent items are?) that you think would work better?

Could you extend your coverage of j2ee, there have been so many things in the more modern specs you keep missing and allocating resources to things on the fringes.

Thanks for the input. Are there some specific parts of J2EE you want to see covered more, like JMS, EJB, JAXP, etc.?

It seems like a number of the articles appear to focus on specific frameworks. I'd like to see a series that covers best practices for both SE and EE by themselves. Short "lightning-talk" style articles would be useful as well.

Good ideas, thanks.

Pressure from Web 2.0 style technologies (Google, del.icio.us, RSS, PHP, Ruby on Rails) will lead to simplified frameworks like Stripes.

I haven't tried Stripes; thanks for the suggestion. Did you check out the Trails article we cross-posted from java.net?

could you make the onjava search box search the onjava site by default first?

Will look into it, thanks.

I would be very interested in a series of books that explain individual tools in detail (Spring, AspectJ5, Ant, Tapestry, etc) and have a concluding book that combines all of these tools for use with best practice in development and deployment, within a team.

This sounds a little like the Better, Faster, Lighter Java approach. We'll forward this to our Java book editors, thanks.

Is it too hard to have O'Reilly conventions outside US? We have a terrible lack of events in Brazil.

OSCON just staged a successful European version. You might want to contact the O'Reilly Conference Team.

I'm suffering from Java-technology overload at the moment. It's fine to have articles for the advanced programmers, but remember articles for beginners trying to demonstrate how simple it can be to write apps in Java (if at all...)

Thanks for the feedback. It's important with the calls for more advanced material to remember the needs of readers at all skill levels.

I'm interested in web content management systems. For various reasons I have a bias for Java based software. Would like book on eg OpenCms (opencms.org)

I don't think we've touched content management systems. Any potential authors out there want to send a proposal?

You guys do a very good job. I'd like it if OnJava were prettier / easier to navigate. The ServerSide does a slightly better job of this.

Thanks. Layout and navigation of our sites are under consideration.

O'Reilly needs more tutorial-type books like the Head First series.

Any particular Head First topics you're interested in?

For question 23 [on the survey], how does one indicate 2 yrs, but fewer than 3 yrs, experience as a Java programmer?

Um, wait for us to rephrase the question next year. But wait, then you'll have three years. Sorry--we'll take a look at that.

More books/examples of interfacing Java with real world devices such as dicrete I/O, analog interfacing, device control, etc.

Could be interesting, could be too niche-y. It's hard to tell. We're definitely interested in a proposal.

You guys are doing a great job. Please continue the good work. I would like to see more articles on java open source tools and also would like an article on new Thread classes in Java 5.

Thanks for the suggestions.

Easy to understand and execute facility in editors to create WAR, JAR and EAR files

Does this suggest a need for an article on this, or a tool (like an Eclipse plugin) to provide this?

The articles I'm interested in (J2EE technos and clustering) are not very recent; so not based on the latest J2EE Application Software features

With J2EE 5.0 looming, we'll try to run newer EE material that speaks to the new spec.

Never, ever, write an article were the example doesn't compile or work. Please.

We'll try not to. We do catch things in editing; please use the comments to let us know when something doesn't work.

why does orielly not have any articles on using Macromedia flex and Java?

We do: Integrating Macromedia Flex with Java by Mark Eagle.

Your Java books are great add-ons for classroom work. My only complaints are that even the "Learning Java" titles tend to focus on multiple topics in a single code example, and many of the examples are dependant on using 1.5 - unavailable on OS X.

Interesting point on code examples--it is preferable to keep the examples focused on the topic at hand. As for J2SE 5.0 for Mac, it's out and you can get it from Apple's Java page.

Hi chromatic! --Tom C.

Hi, Tom. chromatic was two editors ago. He does ONLamp and Linux Dev Center now.

Sure. How about a "How to write articles for java.com" article to attract people that have something to give? Could help new stuff making it into the site.

Great idea. We have a writer's info pack that we email to prospective writers; it has a process guide, style guide, and an HTML template. We've talked about getting it up on the site, pending a few more revisions.

More portlet and portal

Thanks. Did you like Sunil Patil's What Is a Portlet?

more news about j2ee

We generally do feature articles and not news, per se, but we'll see what we can do as we bring new kinds of content to the site.

better support china language.

We don't do the site in non-English languages, but some authors allow their articles to be translated and republished elsewhere.

Note: Another response asked for content in Spanish as well.

Like everyone, I've really been looking at Ruby/Ruby on Rails lately - maybe you should write on article or two on JRuby and/or Trails.

See the earlier reply about Trails. JRuby is potentially interesting. What part of RoR do you find more interesting: the Ruby language or the fast website creation that Rails allows?

review more open source software

Open source frameworks are what we focus on, thanks.

Host "live" demos of stuff from articles.

We can appreciate how valuable this could be, but it may not be practical. We'll think about it, thanks.

I love the Head First books. While Jesse Liberty's C# books are great, I'd really like to see Kathy & Bert guide a C# expert through a book.

Glad you like the Head First series.

Java be peaking right now.

Do you think so? We think there's a lot to be optimistic about right now.

Looking forward to a good professional framework for AJAX development. It's the next step in web development, and when it gets good, the web is going to be much more fun/useful.

Have you tried Direct Web Remoting (DWR)? Do you know of other frameworks we should be writing about?

I suggested "Cubic Bezier Curves" as most books are array based, don't suit Java GeneralPaths, and keep too many secrets.

That might be a topic to explore with an article before venturing into a whole book. Any authors interested?

Would like to see more articles on methodologies & process and open source projects.

Did you like the "What Bugs to Fix When" series that was cross-posted from ONLamp? Are you interested in XP, Scrum, etc., as compared to RUP, etc?

more cutting edge/ early adopter stuff. and please more out of the box thingking like in the old oreilly days. These days most O'Reilly content is high mainstream and not very cutting edge

We'll keep an eye out for what's catching on. The danger with the cutting edge articles is that sometimes the approaches don't catch on. Last year, we ran a lot of AOP articles, and many of you complained that it was irrelevant to you, if not frivolous. So we look for a mix of emerging topics and widely-used stuff.

Please: Deeper articles Impartial authors (Spring x EJB3 was a classical partial approach!)

On the specific point, fairness was on my mind when I edited POJO Application Frameworks: Spring Vs. EJB 3.0 and I thought the author was fair in assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the two.

As for impartiality in writing, I don't think there's any such thing, and if there is, I wouldn't want to encourage it. All authors have an opinion, a bias, if only to say, "I think topic X is worth writing an article about." Authors should be free to make their case and have that case stand or fall on its merits. Trying to be "impartial," to set aside the author's value judgments, is a recipe for a boring article. The high number of talkbacks on this one--both agreeing and disagreeing with the article--shows that it captured readers' attention, and that's exactly what we want to do.

The Java tecnology is becaming bigger and bigger, but there is so much frameworks, API's, etc. It is good, but would be better if there was a support for integrating all them, in the same local, like in ONJava.com site. It would be valuable for beginners and advanced developers!

What kind of "support" are you thinking of? Like articles on combining two frameworks for a specific purpose?

Articles about real world use of Java technologies would a great addition.

Thanks. Let me ask this as a rhetorical question: if the real-world use is outside of your realm of interest, would you still read the article? This is one of the things we wrestle with in "case study" type articles--how much work will it take to explain the problem domain to the reader, and will it be interesting?

make your newsletters prettier! plain text is unpleasant to read and look at imho. keep up the great work!

We haven't looked at the newsletter process for a while. Thanks for the input.

Eclipse and SWT all the way, Java all the way and last but not least, Linux and GNU packages are simply brilliant to be free of use.

Regarding Eclipse and SWT, have you been following the Eclipse Plugins Exposed series, and what do you think?

I would like more freedom to translate your articles into other languages

Authors maintain the copyrights to their articles, and several have authorized translations to be reposted elsewhere, so you can contact the author directly about this.

More examples - we're all up to our ears in manuals - examples can communicate concepts faster.

True. Our typical article has code examples in the text and a source download you can build and run.

Pay more attention to user's groups, theay are great!

Interesting suggestion, thanks. Have you visited the java.net Java User Groups Community?

I'd like to NOT see articles comparing spring/hibernate to EJB 3.0 until the spec clears. In particular, until the spec clears, all bets for EJB 3.0 are still in the air. I'd like to see less about JSF because (in my limited experience), it looks, feels and smells like EJB 2.0 on the web - most people I know, work with, talk to, etc - just aren't using it. They're sticking with struts because it gets the job done.

Thanks for the opinion. Part 1 of the survey results showed a lot of readers tracking JSF, so that may be a design smell to watch for.

Architecture, architecture, architecture. How to use is great but there is a huge hole in architeture, testing, and optimization. :)

Thanks for the suggestion.

push for real world examples when introducing new technologies, don't be afraid to show when a framework doesn't do everything, or does have issues.

That's an excellent point. Especially with emerging products and projects, it's only natural that there should be flaws that readers would want to know about.

Ultra-high quality articles needed.

We're trying, thanks.

I think Oreilly needs to consider more articles on the latest developments in the Web Services section

Thanks. Are you referring to webservices.xml.com, or articles about web services here on ONJava?

Publish more books - more diversified. Realize that writers such as David Flanagan are getting old.

OK. Check out the book list on java.oreilly.com and let us know what you think is missing.

we need more video tutorials to learn things, like showing how to configure Eclipse to some framework.

Interesting idea. Do other readers think that video tutorials or screencasts would be an effective format for ONJava? Please leave a comment.

Something on XML databases and XQuery would be cool.

Thanks for the suggestion. We're open to a proposal on this.

Can we have more on : Distributed System - Jini, Spring Remoting, J2Me on the Mac, Java bluetooth on the mac

See Part 1 for the most popular topic requests. We'll keep these topics in mind, thanks.

I think on demand, asynchronous services are going to become a much bigger part of development and deployment. So, focus on java messaging (JMS, JBI), REST, and WS specs such as WS Reliable Messaging.

We've done a few pieces on various messaging standards and frameworks in the last year, as well as REST. There's a lot to do in the WS-* space.

Help to make Java easy.

We're trying!

Good site, I do find it hard to find older articles when nav through the topics. Can't determine the ordering or influence it. If it was an article that I read three yrs ago it is hard to find. Easier resource location would help

We'll take this into account in site design considerations, thanks.

I'm also interested in Groovy which runs on the Java VM.

That's interesting, because Groovy really dropped off a lot of people's radar in the last 12 months. It was way down in this year's survey, and the days of it drawing a standing room only session (as at JavaOne 2004) seem to be over.

The current wave (2 years PROVED that Java was/is GREAT); next I do the same for web applications (JSF and/or portlets) and by then, much improved J2EE books will be out (we may not go there); I need more DESIGN information, as you might get if you consolidated Evans, Martin, Fowler, Cooper, GoF and INTEGRATED all the "know how" for building a Java application (many volumes, per context - web app, applets, swing apps) I think I spend too much time refactoring things I could have done right the first time. I miss the certainties of design: structured programming (still doing it), structured design (rarely applies) and database design (temporal anomalies EVERYWHERE) and it's time the whole was unified.

Thanks for your thoughts.

I'd like to read more spring and ejb3 related stuff from you. Hibernate 3 is great when is used with ejb3 and some new books about hibernate3 and ejb3 (and all new features like annotations) are wellcome.

We definitely plan to cover EJB 3.0 further.

Salary Surveys.

That's not really a core competency for us. Would it help if we had business-oriented articles that pointed to such surveys?

Keep it up, especially the opinion pieces. Also, the tutorials are cool.

Thanks. We don't run a lot of opinion pieces because it's hard to get the right combination of author and topic, but when it works, it can be very interesting.

A Word of Thanks

Thank you again for participating in the survey, and for sharing your thoughts with us. We wanted to put all the responses out there this year, to show you what kinds of things your fellow readers want from the site, and to individually respond to each one in some meaningful way. We can't promise everything--some topics, for example, have proven notoriously difficult to find good writers for--but we'll do our best. Thanks.

By the way, the prize drawing for survey respondents has not yet taken place. We'll contact winners directly and announce the results in the ONJava Newsletter.

Chris Adamson is an author, editor, and developer specializing in iPhone and Mac.

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