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Vivent les JUGs! Five days with France’s Java User Group (JUG) community, ZeroTurnaround style


Community interaction is one of the aspects of my job I love. Last week, I set off on a JUG tour from the North to the South of France. Well actually, I started in Bordeaux to see a customer, but flew to Lille on Monday afternoon, but let’s not ruin the moment :)

Day 1: Ch’ti JUG (Lille)



My first stop was the Lille JUG, called Ch’ti JUG (One of the funnier JUG names from my childish British point of view! Yes, it’s pronounced the way you think as is certainly not a representation of the JUG itself!), and is a really friendly group of techie minds. There were also a number of students at my session which was great to see, as I think a Java User Group is a great place for a student to get a taste of what life after university can be like in terms of technology and what people are doing.

My session was on JVM languages (From the JVM languages report on RebelLabs) and went down really well. I had some good questions and interaction and lots of activity on Twitter including:

Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 12.04.54 PM

Here is the breakdown of JVM languages which members of the Ch’ti JUG have heard of and those which they have used.


I was really shocked to see Clojure was not so well known, but pleasantly surprised to see Ceylon was being looked at here and used by 10-20 people in the room. We had some great food, beer and wine afterwards, so thanks to all involved!

Day 2: Paris JUG (Paris)



On Tuesday morning I travelled to Paris, a beautiful city that I only really enjoyed from a taxi on this particular trip :) After another customer session in the morning I had an hour or two to myself before going to the ParisJUG to present two sessions, one on ClassLoaders (From the Classloader report on RebelLabs) and a session on Application Servers (From the Application Servers report on RebelLabs). Both went down extremely well as tweets show:

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Some more interesting information here about which application servers these members are using in development and which they are happy with using (gut feel). Here is the breakdown:


As usual, a huge number of Tomcat users, more than I’ve seen before in a single room, but then I’ve never been to a Tomcat appreciation event before. I was surprised to see there weren’t more people using Jetty and Glassfish in the room, and also, that the JBoss love wasn’t as high as I’ve seen in the past when giving this session.

The AppServer talk is always a good fun session where we rate each server on specific developer metrics and then the audience decides which of the metrics they really care about, which weights the scores and gives us our winner. Here were the final scores in Paris:


Tomcat really stretched out into the lead whereas the non-weighted scores actually puts Tomcat 3rd! No wonder everyone in the room was using Tomcat, it’s a perfect fit! :)

Day 3: Lyon JUG (Lyon)



Day three of my tour took me to Lyon where I presented two more sessions to the Lyon JUG. This time I gave the JVM languages session followed by the Application Servers session. It certainly got colder on the two hour trip down to Lyon (albeit on one of the light speed trains travelling at warp factor crazy-fast!) I gave two sessions in a location which was a really great auditorium in a private school. The sessions again were very fun and enjoyable to give–the audience was interactive and again, laughed at my jokes (maybe I should move to France!) Here are the stats for the JVM Languages talk I gave and the Application Servers talks:


It was really great to see so many people had used Groovy and Scala and clearly Emmanuel Bernard and others are doing a good job evangelising Ceylon, as at least the awareness of it seems higher in France than other places I have given this talk. In this case, it was 1 in 4. Golo was not included in this chart but is clearly an outside bet on being, certainly in Lyon if nowhere else ;)


Once again we see the huge dominance that Tomcat has over the application servers in development usage and TomEE again was an application server which many hadn’t heard of, but will now certainly investigate. The JBoss usage here was impressive, but it’s unusual to see the drop off for those that didn’t feel happy with it in development. Here are the scores each app server received as per the Lyon preferences:


Oh, I think I may have started a new TomEE pose (Merci, Bolt):

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Day 4: Alpes JUG (Grenoble)



On Thursday of the Tour de France, I left Lyon for Grenoble, well that was the plan! It was a very stereotypical day for France. How so? Well, I got to the Gare de Lyon Part Dieu to find I had a 1.5 hr wait because of train strikes! But instead of just playing Tiny Death Star on my phone, I thought I’d grab some lunch. Had a beautiful fillet steak and frites with a fruity glass of rouge followed by a melt in the mouth chocolate fondant and espresso to finish. I think I understand why strikes are tolerated in France now!

Anyway, a short train ride later and I was in Grenoble to visit the Alpes JUG was smaller than the others I had visited on my trip, but just as welcoming and friendly. I gave two more sessions at Alpes JUG, firstly my ClassLoader session followed by JVM languages. Here are the images for current application server usage/happiness:


Interestingly, there were not as many Tomcat users in the group I spoke with, although it did have a clear lead. Other than tomcat there was a good spread of server usage.


Once the scores were totalled and weighed based on the audience preferences for each category, we can see from above that Tomcat once again was victorious with JBoss chasing not far behind, but not snapping at Tomcat’s heels either.

Day 5: MarsJUG (Marseille)



On my final day, I was pleased to see the strikes had subsided and I caught a train from Grenoble to Marseille, on the south coast of France, to give my final two sessions. Similar to the Alpes JUG, the Marseille JUG chose a session on ClassLoaders and Application Servers. The JUG was again smaller, but we had a good time and here are the stats for the Preferred servers:


Overall the trip was really successful. I met many very interesting, friendly people right across my trip. It’s also refreshing to see so many active and well attended JUGs in France, so a big ‘Congratulations’ to all the JUG leaders for enriching your communities and making them so vibrant! Particular thanks go to Antonio Goncalves, leader of the ParisJUG, for helping me organise the trip, and I look forward to returning soon to say bonjour!

Stats of my Tour de France:

  • JUGs visited: 5
  • Hours of presentations given: 12
  • Total number of attendees: Approx 450
  • JRebel Customers visited: 2
  • Distance Travelled between JUGs: 1,105 KM
  • Flights: 3
  • Trains: 4
  • Trains cancelled due to strikes: 1
  • Number of steaks eaten: About half a cow
  • Number of frogs legs/snails/horses eaten: 0 (despite pressure)
  • Bottles of wine consumed: Can’t remember, lost count

Well, that’s it for a while–but more country JUG tours are in the works for 2014. If you’d like to know more, contact me at @sjmaple on Twitter. Au revoir!