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Why OOPSLA matters?

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These days, we all take for granted that software is best built incrementally, that testing while coding leads to better quality software, that virtual machine-based languages can be as fast as natively-compiled languages, that patterns are great way to bootstrap your thinking when designing, and that an object-oriented language with single inheritance is likely easier to deal with than one with multiple inheritance...

Many of these well-accepted tenets in the software industry and programming trade have their roots in one conference. A conference that started with a band of early programmers who were passionate about a powerful new style of programming: object-oriented programming. That style has evolved over the years to become a source of innovation for all things programming and software. Indeed, most of the assertions above can be traced back to their origins in papers, workshops, or ideas stemmed from that conference: OOPSLA. Such is the legacy of this conference.

Times and technologies change. That fact has implied that every year OOPSLA had to introspect and look for ways to rejuvenate and encourage exploring boundaries of software. The inventor of Self, Dave Ungar, likes to state it simply as always "question your assumptions."

What are OOPSLA’s basic assumptions? Well, over the years it has been a conference about software languages, software development, software development methodologies, and software systems. Should this still be our focus? Software is embedded everywhere and the success of devices like the iPhone and Blackberry are good indication that at least one immediate future of software is in mobile solutions that include a combination of hardware and software within an ecosystem (private or public).

The Web has also transformed our social lives and is increasingly a communication fabric unparalleled in scope, reach, and immediacy. Web services like Twitter and Facebook have transformed the Web into a real-time virtual social square. Information is flowing quickly and at ever-increasing volumes. This social software is not only near real-time and location-aware but it is also interconnected with complex executable logic. Mashups of Web APIs and data have led to a boom of innovations analogous to early days of commerce on the Web.

The current Web not only has resulted in the democratization of information and applications, but increasingly it is the gateway to reaching every business’s data centers and application centers. Using Web APIs, a startup can run its entire operation virtually on cloud computing infrastructure without concern for acquiring sufficient compute resources to scale should that startup become the next overnight success---that is, if they are TechCruched, Digged, or Slashdotted.

With so much happening around software and the Web, why should someone from academia or industry still attend an object-oriented conference?

This is an important question. It is one that cannot be completely answered in one blog post. However, I will give you a short answer now and elaborate each point over the next three months in various blog posts and podcasts. I hope to convince you that OOPSLA matters. It matters to both academic and industrial participants. It matters because of its tutorials, its workshops, its keynotes, all of its leading-edge content. Most of all, it matters because of the world-class people who regularly present their new ideas at OOPSLA. As you will see when we announce the program, all of the hot topics mentioned above will be represented in some fashion in this year’s program...

What makes any conference really worth while is the quality of the people who attend. OOPSLA has a tradition of attracting the best and most innovative students, professors, consultants, industry researchers, and practitioners. This year will be no different. Come to OOPSLA 2009 and you are sure to meet with members of the gang of four, the instigators of the Agile movement, the creators of the Web’s hottest languages and frameworks, as well as hear from researchers and practitioners at the leading universities and companies.

Yes, "the times they are a changing”. But just as Bob Dylan will forever have a certain “je ne sais quoi” that makes his music pertinent, classic, and always filled with relevant content and meaning. So too will the OOPSLA conference. As long as we keep welcoming a core group of innovators, keep including new topics in tutorials, workshops, keynotes, and keep attracting the quality content that you will hear when we announce the program, the conference’s future is very much assured and alive.

Check back frequently for other posts as we peel away at this year’s program and demonstrate why OOPSLA matters to you.

Last updated on June 1st, 2009

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