The whiteboards play an important part at Javapolis in bringing people together to discuss ideas and future trends.
This year, I chose to focus the whiteboard debate around a number of specific topics. This was achieved by having votes on 10 language changes proposals, plus areas for new ideas for Spring, JSF, JavaEE and JavaSE. I'm going to discuss the language change votes here, as the photos of the other boards aren't available yet.
Language change votes
Before the conference started, there were a number of language change proposals floating about, initiated by Neal and Josh at Google. These were discussed in a late night BOF on Thursday, but this was backed up by the votes on the whiteboards.
The full results are available (with more detailed examples), but here is the summary.
The strongest support was for Improving Generics, String Switch and Multi-catch. Attendees were giving a clear 'yes' to these being in Java 7.
The strongest opposition was to Typedef (type aliasing) and Extension methods and chaining. Attendees were giving a clear 'no' to these being in Java 7.
There was some support for Better null handling (with a new operator) and Properties. The balance was slightly against, but not overwhelming.
There was positive support for Using  to access lists and maps. The balance was definitely in favour, yet there was a large minority against. This was perhaps the most surprising vote. Unfortunately, it wasn't possible to find out why there were so many 'no' votes. My view, is that it is still worth pursuing this for Java 7.
Java being open source isn't going to be enough going forwards - it will also be necessary to provide an open community. Votes and direct feedback like this have a really positive effect, allowing Java's growth to be influenced by real developers and their problems.