DDD8 - Developer Conference

… at Microsoft in Reading

It seems many years since I attended any geeky conferences or user-groups, in fact whilst at Microsoft in Reading yesterday it dawned on me it’s been nearly 10 years since I was last there, and suspect it was the release of C# that had brought me on that occasion. My day at DDD8 yesterday reminded me how much I’d been missing out.

I had intended the conference for over a month but the election of my work colleague Rob Ashton to do a talk on multi-tenant ASP.NET MVC projects made it all the more exciting, especially with half our department in tow to help brief them on the technologies and methodologies they would soon be using when joining our team.

Real World MVC Architectures

I started the day by attending a talk by attending Ian Cooper’s talk on using MVC in the real-world commercial applications, if for no other reason than to reaffirm his words of wisdom would match our own thinking and implementation.

Thankfully with a few minor exceptions this was indeed the case, and gratifying that Rob and I’s own internal teachings were being echoed to those colleagues present.

Multi-tenant ASP.NET MVC Projects

With bums firmly seated in Chicago 1 we eagerly awaited Rob to start his talk. After a mild panic caused by a missing DVI –> VGA adapter his presentation began in earnest.

It was quite strange (and gratifying) to observe the interest and fascination of the delegates on a solution I’ve been privileged enough to use and explore for many months now, in fact it was this “peppering of genius” I referred to in my last entry.

I’m not going to go into detail on the workings of the solution, and instead redirect you to Rob’s blog when he’s managed to post his slides (imminently he assures us).

C# 4.0

Being absent from the world of conferences for so long I had heard great things about Jon Skeet but never seen him action, the fact the partition between Chicago 1 & 2 was removed to accommodate his audience says enough.

It was very important for me to attend this talk. Quite frankly I was a late-comer to the C# 3/3.5 enhancements (such as inferred types and lambda expressions) and rapidly climbing that learning curve on-demand was difficult.

Admittedly the new features in C# 4.0 aren’t anywhere near as revolutionary in their number and show-stopping ability, but actually contain some important changes that would have helped me in the past 2-3 months. I will never be a fan of the dynamic keyword and am wholly a strongly-typed kind of guy, but the changes to co- and contra-variance for generic delegate and interface types, and named parameters, are most welcome.

Incidentally Jon delivered the best explanation of co-/contra-/in-variance I’ve ever heard, I’ll never forget trying to get my head round it – if indeed I have! ;o)

MonoTouch

Being an active Mac and OS X user since 2001 and with business enquiry for an iPad application coming in only 24 hours before, I was very keen to see Chris Hardy’s talk on MonoTouch.

Giving C# developers to side-step Apple Objective-C (which I never quite grasped) and develop applications for the iPhone and upcoming iPad MonoTouch is at the forefront of everybody’s mind, even those delegates in the audience who currently don’t own a Mac.

Good presentation and demo by Chris and a ton of time given to answer questions. Needless to say MonoTouch is already installed on my machine and my first app well underway!

Testing C# and ASP.Net applications using Ruby

The last session of the day was spent with Ben Hall whose book on Testing ASP.NET Web Application I am a great fan of, so much that it’s compulsory reading in our team. As BDD very much in our minds at the moment I was very interested to see if Ruby could make employing the technique less painful, and facilitate more readable tests.

I will admit without hesitation that I’m not a big fan of Ruby or dynamic languages in general so he had his work cut out, and he didn’t quite manage it for me (yet). It’s not that I’m not in favour of the BDD technique or tools/frameworks such as RSpec or Cucumber, just that using Ruby gives me another tutoring task and one I’m not sure is going to be necessary.

Rob has assured me he will convince me otherwise, and he often does, so Ben’s battle is not yet lost!

Finally…

Got to say a massive thank-you to Microsoft (doesn’t happen often) and the organisers of DDD, it was truly a fantastic day and you can be assured I’ll be waiting, fingers poised, for registration next year.

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