I'll never forget my first Java book: The year was 1997. I had discovered the JDK 1.0.2 in 1996 and after experimenting with some tutorial examples, I immediately knew that Java would be a hit.
In 1997, I worked for an integrator, and I had the chance to teach newly arrived interns how to program, so I bought myself the "Java Unleashed" book and decided to start teaching Java, a language that hadn't been used at the company up until then. We made some really cool applications. For instance: to explain networks and servers, we made a Connect 4 server using a ServerSocket and we made an applet that connected to this server socket so that two people could play Connect 4 against each other from their own browser.
In 1998, I started working at Ghent University. I was hired to write new applications for the Student Administration using PERL, but I managed to convince my employer that we should use Java. That was a risk because I advised to run the application on Apache JServ, a Java application server that was still in beta when we started the project. It turned out to be a huge success. The application was still running by the time Apache JServ was abandoned in favor of Apache Tomcat (we had a small intermezzo experimenting on jBoss, but we didn't invest in EJB).
In 2000, I released iText as an open source Java PDF library, making PDF (born in 1993) available to Java developers for the first time in history. In the years that followed, I wrote tutorials and books, which lead to my first experience as a speaker at a large conference.
In 2006, I was a speaker at the event that is now called Devoxx, but that was at that time known as Javapolis.
In 2007, my all-time Java hero, James Gosling, wrote a blog about iText and shortly after, I met James Gosling in person for the first time in my life. I was so happy when he told me that he knew me!
In 2010, the year my second book was published, I got another chance to be a speaker at Devoxx, as well as in 2014.
Since 2012, iText has been present at Java One, and in 2014, we even had a Java One talk!
Java One 2012:
Java One 2013:
Java One 2014:
The impact of Java on my personal career is huge. I am a self-taught developer, and Java made the difference! I wouldn't be where I am now if it weren't for Java, so:
Happy 20th Birthday Java!
From iText with Love!