Interview with Kees Jan Koster
Driven technical architect, coach and Java expert Kees Jan Koster will speak at this year's JPrime Conference in Sofia, Bulgaria. Here is an interview him.
Hi Kees! Can you please introduce yourself?
Sure. I am a freelance technical architect in the Netherlands. I like to move from customer to customer. For each customer I bring the things that I learned at my previous customers, but I also come to learn something new. What I bring and what I learn is slowly changing. I used to bring Java and learn Java. Recently, soft skills have been added to that. I still bring Java and technical concepts, but I also bring time management and planning to development teams.
It’s all about monitoring. Is Java and JVM actually good for monitoring and configuration management? Is there something you actually would like to add?
The JVM is very good at telling you when it is unhappy. It is just that nobody seems to really listen to the JVM. Luckily there are many tools that can help you listen better. Some come with the JVM, such as VisualVM. Others are on-line or paid products. I would advise all Java developers and sysadmins to invest time into learning about JMX and Java monitoring.
You pay great attention to soft skills and organizational activities. So what should be the proportion of soft skills and technical knowledge to make a perfect combination?
Given that many in Bulgaria will work for International customers, I think there is a great need for soft skills in Bulgaria. Remote team work is very demanding on communication skills. Reading body language is hard enough when done in person. Mix in instant messaging and bad video quality, and it becomes very easy to get into a misunderstanding. I think this is easily overlooked, both by managers and developers themselves. When I do interview with candidate developers, I find that I look at soft skills only. How does he or she react when I ask things they do not know? When they explain something, how well do they express themselves? Do they notice when my face tells them they are not answering my question? Soft skills are hard to learn. By comparison, Java is a lot easier. Soft skills are harder to learn because they ask you to change your habits. On the other hand, learning soft skills can be hugely rewarding. Improving your ability to listen improves both your work and personal life.
What do you think would be the next steps in the evolution of the JVM?
Soft skill support? ;-) For the JVM, I think that the evolutionary steps should now be small. Java is a solved problem, even if there is plenty to improve left. The JVM is solid and pulls some amazing tricks to eek out extra performance. I would suggest for developers to learn more about the internals of the JVM, possibly help improve it by joining in the community process.
Is there something you monitor in the real life?
Not much, to be honest. I watch my kids grow up, not sure if that counts? :-)
Thank you Kees Jan! See you in Sofia!