HI My Name is Aaron. And I work with Java Use Groups and Java Champions. Here is a typical email I get from someone who is interested in starting a Java User Group and how I help them get started.
Awhile ago, the java.net Program Manager approached me about blogging about some of the day-to-day interactions I've had with the Java community over the years, primarily the Java User Groups (JUGs) and Java Champions program. I get a ton of email from folks who are interested in starting a Java User Group and want to know how to get started. Honestly, I tell them, the best place to learn about Java User Groups and "community" is from an acting JUG leader. And there are plenty of them right here on java.net -- JOIN their mailing list. Over 150 JUG leaders participate in the JUG Leader's mailing list on java.net. It is a vibrant and passionate community; It has always been a rewarding experience (for me) to talk to these folks about tips on how to grow their local groups and learn about more about Java.
So, to get this blog started, I thought I would share a typical email from a prospective JUG leader and my reply.
SUBJ: JUG Program for Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada -- Nov 6th, 2009
I, along with the backing of my company, am interested in starting a JUG group for Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and was wondering what advice and or support you could provide as we move forward with a new Java User Group.
Winnipeg used to have a Java User Group, but it became defunct years ago. There are a number or java based organizations within the city and would like to see them get together to further our use and understanding of Java.
Again, any advice, documents, or suggestions that you can provide would be greatly appreciated. -- Casey from Winnipeg
****************************** REPLY ******************************
Hey, you've come to the right place. My name is Aaron, I work for Sun as their program coordinator for Java Users Groups. At Sun, we've known that the Java User Groups (JUGs) is a huge community and an important "grass-roots" part of the Java Eco-System + technology adoption. JUGs have always been independent of Sun, they have had to be because there is no way for us here at Sun to be the "end-all and everything" for the JUG community. However, we do have a corporate-centered program to help facilitate the discussion that Sun's Java Leadership would like to have with the Java Developer Community....and the JUGs are a great place to start for our developer outreach initiatives.
What does Sun do for Java User Groups?
So what does Sun do for JUGs? Well, at this moment, not as much as we would like... However, in the past, we have done lots of events, community sessions, and activities at JavaOne, Sun Tech Days, and elsewhere. We have a corporate level program and dedicated resources (Nichole Scott and I are listed here). We get "the voice" of Community Leaders heard within the leadership at Sun + Java Platform engineering team. And, we do sometimes conduct mailings of care-packages of Java books, T-shirts, OpenSource software...and I coordinate speakers when they're available. Perhaps, the best thing we are doing for JUGs is sponsoring the cost of hosting java.net and supplying resource(s) to the JUGs and other communities on java.net.... We do hold/or facilitate Birds-of-a-Feather Sessions at JavaOne and community-led conferences like DEVOXX. Very important to us (Sun) to be supporting a developer event coordinated by a non-profit or a Java User Group. (i.e. nljug.org's J-Fall, javaBin's JavaZone, Belgian JUG's DEVOXX, and a couple more). We sometimes sponsor these conferences. The JUG Leaders will be meeting next week at DEVOXX -- JUG BOF event.
Tech Days Resources and Join the JUG Leader's mailing list:
I routinely send information about which of our evangelist speakers(s) or sun development engineers are speaking and links to their presentations via the JUG leader's mailing list. Also, Sun has a program called Sun Tech Days whereby most of the presentations (see list below) are made available for public re-use, since our folks can't be everywhere .....
Lastly, Check out the Community Leader's slide Deck I put together at JavaOne this year for the community corner. It lists most of the JUG leader and Java Champions participating with the JUGs -- Java Champions are great source of potential speakers for your JUG.
Lots of stuff... I could talk about Java User Groups for Days... Hope this helps... -- Aaron