UKOUG DE SIG 10-JUL-2008: the Agenda agenda
There are a number of different sources for speakers. The obvious one is Oracle itself. Every SIG has an Oracle buddy (strictly speaking they're called Ambassadors but the "buddy" tag stuck). Our buddy is the redoubtable Grant Ronald, who is a Group Product Manager in Oracle's Tools Division, which makes him the go-to man for Forms and JDeveloper. For the upcoming SIG Grant will be presenting on Oracle ADF 11g: New Declarative Development Features for Fusion . This will be an opportunity to see whether JDeveloper is yet approaching the productivity which Forms has offered us for more than fifteen years. Grant will also be giving us a brief overview of the new features in Forms 11g.
Oracle Consulting also provide us with speakers. It's a good place to get information on the newer Oracle products and technology. I'm still waiting for David Richards, the SIG's Consulting contact, to get back to me, but he usually comes up with the goods.
We do get offered sessions from vendors. I think it is an important function of the SIG to bring relevant products to the notice of our audience. But we have had feedback that people don't like sales-oriented presentations, particularly at SIGs because the single stream means there's no choice. This is why I am especially grateful to Peter Sechser from PITSS for offering a wholly technical presentation on turning an older Forms application into a SOA application which isn't a sales pitch for their PITSS.CON product.
Another, largely theoretical, source is people - actual users - who have volunteered to present. Unfortunately we get almost no such offers. I'm not quite sure why this is, but I suspect it is related to the reason why we get lower attendance compared to the DBA SIGs. Apart from anything else, the smaller audience represents a smaller pool of potential speakers. Then again, perhaps developers are just shyer than DBAs.
My final option is to phone a friend - or at least e-mail people whose blogs I like. In previous years I have buttonholed Rob Baillie and Tim Hall. This year's victim is Adrian Billington, who will be presenting on pipelined functions in PL/SQL. Adrian is a knowledgeable practitioner of PL/SQL so I'm hoping to learn lots from this one. I also approached another Oracle ACE for a presentation: I've still got my fingers crossed but I fear this one's going to fall through.
Putting the agenda together is a tough task, I try to balance the topics between the firm favourites (i.e. Forms) and the new (Java, ApEx). I like to include at least one unfamiliar topic in the mix (PHP, .Net, Rules Engines). But most of all I think it is my duty to ensure that we have presentations from different sources: I could easily have five sessions from Oracle employees but it is meant to be a User Group, not a branch of Oracle marketing.
So, if you're an Oracle developer based in the UK please come to the SIG. It's in Blythe Valley Park (near Solihull) on July 10th 2008. It's open to all comers (it's just more expensive to get in if your organisation doesn't have a UKOUG membership). But also, please consider presenting at the SIG. I admit it's not as glamorous as the annual conference but it is still a worthwhile and rewarding experience. If you are interested please contact Julius Kisielius at the UKOUG office.