jOOQ Tuesdays: Axel Fontaine Predicts Exciting Times as our Industry is Maturing

Welcome to the jOOQ Tuesdays series. In this series, we’ll publish an article on the third Tuesday every other month where we interview someone we find exciting in our industry from a jOOQ perspective. This includes people who work with SQL, Java, Open Source, and a variety of other related topics.


We have the pleasure of talking to Axel Fontaine in this fourth edition who will be telling us about the exciting times that are ahead as our industry is maturing.

Hi Axel – Citing your website: From “Software is what I do” to “Architecting for Continuous Delivery & Zero Downtime”. Where did your personal passion for devops come from?

Over the last 18 years in our industry I have seen a lot of projects for numerous clients in many different sectors. And it always struck me. The intersection between development and operations was almost invariably the place where the largest efficiency gains could be realized. Over time this then became the place where I naturally started to focus my attention, initially for consultancy and training, and then later also for public speaking and the product business.

Very interesting! I suspect that the Flyway download rates also confirm the increasing need for devops tooling, right?

I am glad you mentioned it. Yes, Flyway download numbers have been going through the roof. In March we had one download every 42 seconds and we are well on track to break the 1 million mark in 2015! This picture actually tells us a number of things. First of all it confirms that the need for database migrations is a very widespread itch and that Flyway’s no-nonsense pragmatic and lightweight approach to scratch it resonates with the industry. The other thing this tells us, is that our industry as a whole is maturing and continuous delivery and deployment in particular is becoming more mainstream. This increased pace of delivery comes with a pressing need for a higher level of automation. And modern lightweight tools like Flyway are a great fit for this.

Now, you are converting that passion into a product called Boxfuse. Can you tell us a little more about it?

I have always been a strong believer in lightweight and open solutions that are a pleasure to use and minimize lock-in. When it comes to deploying an application to the cloud, so far you had to choose one or the other. You could either have something that is a joy to use (PaaS), but leaving you stuck in a walled garden. Or you could have something open (IaaS) that unfortunately leaves you with a lot of operational concerns to deal with. Boxfuse aims for a fresh new middle ground: the convenience of PaaS with the freedom of IaaS. To achieve that Boxfuse does away with a bunch of cargo cult. No more general purpose operation system, no more traditional provisioning. Instead Boxfuse analyses your application and in just a few seconds, fuses it into a tiny bootable image that is about 1% percent of the size of a regular system. Boxfuse then offers you a sophisticated blue/green deployment process for zero downtime updates. All of this, out of the box and with a single command.

We’re entrepreneurs ourselves. Marketing a product is a long road. What are your own key takeaways from your experience as both a consultant and entrepreneur?

I couldn’t agree more. What marketing really is is competing for attention, and turning that attention into mind share through a series of arguments, both technical and emotional. It is an exercise that is often overlooked in our technical circles, where the code is front and center. But the best technology in the world isn’t worth a dime if you can’t convince someone else to use it. And that takes perseverance, drive, and dedication. What seems easy on the outside of often the fruit of lots of hard labor behind the scenes. Eventually you will succeed, but give it a little time. Overnight success takes years.

Where do you see the future of our industry, from your perspective?

Believe me when I say these are exciting times. While it still feels like a big adventure with great new frontiers to explore, our industry is maturing rapidly. Overly complex tools are going the way of the dodo. User expectations are rising fast. And the only way to meet them is through modern  lightweight tools and services that integrate seamlessly with our workflow and perform the undifferentiated heavy lifting for us. We need to eliminate all unnecessary complexity and so we can focus on what matters most: delighting our customers.

jOOQ Tuesdays: Vlad Mihalcea Gives Deep Insight into SQL and Hibernate

Welcome to the jOOQ Tuesdays series. In this series, we’ll publish an article on the third Tuesday every other month where we interview someone we find exciting in our industry from a jOOQ perspective. This includes people who work with SQL, Java, Open Source, and a variety of other related topics.


We have the pleasure of talking to Vlad Mihalcea in this third edition who will be telling us about the skills developers need to acquire when working with Java, SQL, and Hibernate.

Hi Vlad – You’re blog explodes with excellent posts about Hibernate. It looks like you love digging deep into the most popular persistence API in the market, right?

I really mean when saying that “teaching is my way of learning” and to master a certain technology, you have to go beyond the reference documentation. Hibernate has been around for 10 years now and there’s a plethora of projects built on top of it. The Hibernate Master Class focuses on some proven ORM design patterns, like concurrency control, caching and batching.

You’ve recently told me about your realisation of the lack of SQL insight in our industry. How did that come to be?

The Object-Relational mismatch is only the tip of the iceberg, when it comes to accessing data. The biggest problem we face in enterprise systems, is the Enterprise-Database developer mismatch.

A developer knows about the programming languages, design patterns and application architecturing, but database skills are always attributed to the Database Administrator role. This is a very dangerous assumption.

It’s as if we developed on Linux without ever wanting to learn how the operating system works, relying solely on the System Administrator knowledge. If you develop enterprise applications, you have no escape but learning how a database works. Reading the excellent “SQL Performance Explained” book, made me realize how little I knew about the inner-workings of relational database systems. This book is meant for developers and it’s a must-read for every enterprise developer professional.

What can we do to improve the situation for our industry? Is there a chance for a tighter integration of JPA and SQL? Or specifically, of Hibernate and jOOQ?

First, it’s the mindset that needs to change. We need to acknowledge that there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all framework, and that applies to database access as well. When I write unit tests, I don’t limit myself to JUnit. I also use Mockito and Hamcrest, a testing stack being a better alternative.

JPA excels when writing data, because you can the INSERT/UPDATE statements are automatically updated, whenever the persistence model changes. The implicit and explicit locking allow us to protect against lost updates, especially in long conversation workflows.

But while abstracting the SQL write statements is a doable task, when it comes to reading data, nothing can beat native SQL. The most commonly-used RDBMS have implemented non-standard data access techniques (window functions, Common Table Expressions, PIVOT) and the SQL-92 JPA abstraction layer can only focus on common functionalities. That’s why native querying is unavoidable on almost any enterprise system.

jOOQ has done a very good job promoting SQL knowledge into the Java ecosystem. Java is ruling the enterprise software development and SQL skills have always been the Achilles heel of most enterprise development teams.

While you can fire native queries from JPA, there’s no support for dynamic native query building. jOOQ allows you to build type-safe dynamic native queries, strengthening your application against SQL-injection attacks. jOOQ can be integrated with JPA, as I already proven on my blog, and the JPA-jOOQ combo can provide a solid data access stack.

Tell us a little bit about your Hibernate Master Class, and your personal blogging strategy.

The Hibernate Master Class blog series is actually a book in the making. Because I work a full-time job, it’s difficult to commit to a fixed writing schedule, so I can only write as much as my spare times allows me.

Once all topics are covered, I’ll turn all this info into a book, that I’m going to self-publish, following the “SQL Performance Explained” example.

[ Edit ] The book has been finished and is available here:

Where will you be in 5 years?

I enjoy both software architecture, as well as writing about it. I will continue on this journey and see where the wind will carry me.

jOOQ Tuesdays: Raoul-Gabriel Urma Explores What Java 8 and English have in Common

Welcome to the jOOQ Tuesdays series. In this series, we’ll publish an article on the third Tuesday every other month where we interview someone we find exciting in our industry from a jOOQ perspective. This includes people who work with SQL, Java, Open Source, and a variety of other related topics.


We have the pleasure of talking to Raoul-Gabriel Urma in this second edition who will be telling us a little about what Java 8 and English have in common.

Hi Raoul – You’re about to publish a very interesting PhD regarding programming language evolution. What is it about?

Natural languages such as English and Spanish have evolved over the years. However, in general the evolution take centuries. Consequently, society has had time to adapt.

Programming languages share a similar characteristic: they evolve. However, unlike natural languages, they evolve almost every year! This puts greater pressure on developers and existing code bases. For example, new features are introduced, idioms changes and sometime different language versions are backward incompatible.

As part of my dissertation I argue that developers need machine support focused on locating sources of backward incompatibilities and contribute various techniques for both static and dynamically typed languages.

I’m also co-organising a workshop on the topic as part of ECOOP if that’s of interest!

Very interesting! Programming languages seem to be a favourite topic of yours. You’ve written an impressive book with great reviews on Amazon (4.7 out of 5!). What do you readers learn from it?

I’ve written a book called Java 8 in Action together with Mario Fusco and Alan Mycroft. We wanted to write a book which teaches how to benefit from the various new Java 8 features. However, we also wanted to write a book that the Java community will still be reading in five or ten years. This is why the book covers many topics on top of lambda expressions and the Streams API such as testing & debugging, refactoring, enhanced concurrency, functional programming concepts and even a bit of Scala!

And what was your biggest learning from writing the book?

It always takes more time than you think ;-)

Being (blog) writers ourselves, we can certainly relate to that!

Java 8 with lambdas and streams is inevitable for all of us. From your earlier work experience at Google, Oracle, Ebay, Goldman Sachs, what do you expect will be the biggest challenges for adopters in the industry when upgrading to Java 8 and functional programming?

Java 8 makes Java sexy again. Unfortunately, a big part of software engineering is to deal with legacy frameworks and codebases, which may impede the adoption of Java 8 for various companies. Nonetheless, several recent surveys show that Java 8’s adoption is going strong.

From the various conference talks, discussions and training courses I’ve given so far, it is clear that the Java community is excited about using lambdas and the Streams API. Hopefully this means that more people will embrace the functional-style in the next 5 years :-).

At Data Geekery with jOOQ, we’ve been working to integrate SQL – a very powerful external domain-specific language – into Java, (ab)using the Java language to the extreme. From a Java / Java 8 perspective, what is your take on domain-specific languages in general, and on SQL in particular?

I think jOOQ is a fantastic project! I’m a believer of writing code that matches the business problem’s domain. It helps readabiliy and maintenance, and ultimately it’s useful for productivity.

You’ve also been busy co-founding startups next to writing books and PhDs. What is it that you love about your various jobs?

I love contributing to people’s lives and knowledge!

If you are interested in Java 8 training, check out the course I’ve put together with Richard Warbuton and James Gough: