With the worldwide economic crisis somewhat abating, Java programmers and experts are once again sought after quarry. And once again that hunt is hampered by a scarcity of Java experts. This is the case in Belgium, but probably every attendee at Devoxx will have confirmed this situation. It makes you wonder, as Java 1.0 was released in 1996 and the Java platform has been part of the curriculum in thousands of academic and professional training institutes. At JavaOne...

With the worldwide economic crisis somewhat abating, Java programmers and experts are once again sought after quarry. And once again that hunt is hampered by a scarcity of Java experts. This is the case in Belgium, but probably every attendee at Devoxx will have confirmed this situation. It makes you wonder, as Java 1.0 was released in 1996 and the Java platform has been part of the curriculum in thousands of academic and professional training institutes. At JavaOne this year, it was proudly stated that worldwide 9 million Java developers are active, and yet, they are still scarce. Clearly, the real problem is that companies search for people with several years of in depth expertise, and these are still rare birds, particularly in the more arcane world of Java EE-based back office applications. In recent months, however, there was also an increase in the demand for Java people at the front end side of applications. Still, usually the search is on for higher profile types of developers, rather than basic programmers. A reinvigorated Belgian Java User Group helps catering for these needs by organizing bi-weekly meetings, covering an extremely wide range of subjects pertaining to the Java platform. In 2010, Glassfish v3, Java EE 6, EJB 3.1 were covered, as well as Maven3, NoSQL (HBase and Hadoop) and a 'iPhone, Flex4, BlazeDS and Grails Case Study'. And lots more subjects! The BeJUG meetings rotate among four cities and enjoy great success, dixit Stephan Janssen, president of BeJUG. The cast of local speakers has even been expanded to include some speakers from abroad. An interesting extension of these meetings are the 'dojo's', where a subject that was covered by a presentation during a meeting, is made the subject of a hands-on exercise. At a dojo, all people present are asked to add some code to the training object. "It's real fun, and brings lots of satisfaction," dixit Stephan Janssen, "It even has generated quite some enthusiasm in the USA." Clearly, the new format of meetings is a success, catering for the about 250 members of BeJUG. That number could yet grow, considering that "1.200 to 1.300 people from Belgium attend Devoxx." Obviously prime candidates for membership of BeJUG, according to Stephan Janssen. Guy KindermansPlenty of meetings, wide range of subjects, hands on sessions, reinvigorate BeJUG.