I’m heading home after another long but fantastic day at Microsoft Reading, UK. The day officially started started at 8am with bacon butties laid on by the venue hosts Microsoft who provided an excellent venue for this Mini Geekathon at there UK offices in Reading. However that is pretty much where Microsoft's roles ends and the community takes over. Developer Developer Developer is a group of individuals that get sponsorship and lay on development events around the UK. The DDD events are FREE events organised by developers for developers; todays event was titled Modern.Net. Modern.Net is .NET we can do now with current tools the idea of the day was to cover all the latest things in .NET that developers can use now to target new platforms and write better code. I came armed with my new mini Acer aspire one, which appears to have better battery life than I expected. I was surprised to see 8hours 46 mins remaining after a couple of hours of use on the way down and that's with Bluetooth turned on and active!
The day was split Into two rooms which made it really difficult to choose sessions to attend as I would have loved to see the sessions that were running in the room next door. I resolved this problem by pretty much deciding which session to attend at the last minute.
WP7, iPhone, Droid - Oh My ! - Chris Hardy
Did you know you could develop against the three most important smart phone device types just with.NET? Chris went through the different ways you develop each platform, explaining the differences and requirements for each smartphone.
|Phone ||Platform ||Cost ||My Notes |
|Windows Phone7 ||Windows, |
|vs2010 Express $0 |
Appstore $99 PA
|Nice and simple develop, as it is just Silverlight. It has some oddities due to Tombstoning but this should be the easiest and cheapest platform for .NET developers to get into. |
|iPhone ||Mac, Mono Develop, Mono Touch ||Monotouch $400, Appstore $99 PA ||You need a Mac to develop this because you need to have the IPhone SDK that only works on a Mac. There are lots of restrictions and tricks (ahead of time compiler, stripping out bits of the framework you don’t need at compile time) that have been performed by the MonoTouch developers to get this to work which means you will always be lumbered with a larger assemblies. However the advantages of using MonoTouch over Objective C is Clear and it now sounds like Apple has now embraced MonoTouch as an easier way of developing for there platform. |
|Android ||Mac/Windows/Linux, Mono Develop, Mono Droid ||MonoDroid $1000 |
Appstore $25 One Off
|Although MonoDroid is at an early stage it looks the most exciting to me; apart from the high cost of the Licence for MonoDroid. You can develop MonoDroid from any platform, and although there is the odd fudge it looks like it will be a much better development experience for developers when the product is released. You can create widgets and applications with MonoDroid, and you can get access to other libraries such as OpenGL. There are currently a couple of issues including asynchronous and multi Threading not working yet but they will be fixed when MonoDroid is released. |
WP7 is clearly the easiest platform to develop for in .Net but the advantages of .Net for the other smartphones is clear. Developers are now able to separate logic and develop a re-useable libraries that if developed carefully can be reused between the platforms thus reducing the pain of developing cross platform smartphone applications . Most Interestingly I personally think that the relatively low cost and ease of development bodes very well for the new WP7 platform.
Managed Extensibility Framework - Kathleen Dollard
This was my favourite session of the day; i had heard bits and bobs about MEF from other developers prior to this session but I haven't had time to investigate it so I was looking forwards to this session by Kathleen. Kathleen enthusiastically explained MEF from the basics to the detail by rattling through two presentations in the limited time at breakneck speed. I didn’t get it all and the certainly wasn’t time for detailed notes but here are the basics.
MEF is different, stands for Managed Extensibility Framework and developers can used it to develop separate units that can work together but so the logic can separated more sensibly. Imagine a room of kids drawing things, some have crayons some don’t, some kids are shouting I want a crayon, other kids are shouting I want a crayon. MEF is the system that can be used connect the kids who want crayons to people who have crayons. There are currently two models available to do this, one of the models is designed especially for Silverlight, the other is more general purpose for dotnet.
One thing I found interesting is that essentially it is DIY SOA, if you want a flexible SOA architecture this seems like a great way to go. Kathleen gave lots of examples why MEF or something like it is the future. Although I haven’t explained it very well it looks like a much much better way of developing systems, I defiantly need to see more sessions on MEF as I want to use it for some personal projects.
Dynamic Consumption in C# 4.0 - Oliver Sturm
I had seen Oliver Sturm before when he took us through f'# one evening after UkTechdays, gosh he is a clever bloke. In this session Oliver took us through dynamic consumption and some of the dynamic features in c# 4.0. As far as I can tell a chunk of the dynamic features in c# 4.0 have originated from vb.net so some of the ohhs and ahhs are less impressive to me as I have been using them for years and years in vb.net, c# has essentially caught up with vb.net, and has a few new dynamic features. After demonstrating the dynamic features of c# he demonstrated how you can call dynamic languages from within c#, first doing office automation, and next calling out to python using a python library and returning the results into c# looks interesting if you need that kind of thing. The summary c# isn’t dynamic but it can now interact with dynamic languages. Useful to know if I ever need to do it, but at the moment its not something I will be doing. IMO Vb.net developers will be less impressed with this presentation, but it was an interesting one to go to.
Lunch and Grok Talks
Lunch was kindly provided by Microsoft and we sat in the main lecture hall munching away listening to some concise talks on a variety of subjects. I liked the concept of a 20:20 presentation, 20 PowerPoint slides in set to auto run at 20 seconds for each slide, the presentation was on @plip and twitter but i liked the concept. The talk on Behaviour Driven Design (BDD) was interesting, the presenter showcased his own framework for F'# called TickSpec. I can see how his framework methodology has its benefits for highly specified systems. Finally dinner ended in a geekout with different presenters from the day answering questions on .net and development theory from the audience, eye opening and I discovered an alterative (cooler?) way to say tuple!
Modern C#: This is not your grand-daddy's language - Jon Skeet
Jon Skeet pretty summed up the entire day with his presentation on modern C#. The theme of the presentation was the theme of the day, Modern.Net and how it has evolved over the years by doing a direct comparison between the oldest and the newest version. We can express more than we could before, C# 1 was wobbly wobbly, but today C# 4 is more descriptive and defined.
Jon lead us through the differences by deep diving into the code, he wrote the same code in both versions; find the maxby and return it and tried to make both solutions as defined and generic as possible. The C# 1 code turned out to be simpler and shorter but the bug difference was in the reusability and strictness. The C# 4 code was more reusable and strict at the same time, you had to jump through some nasty hoops to make the C# 1 code anywhere near as reusable and sensible. At the end the C# was still shorter, but the client code required to use it had to be longer and there was defiantly a bigger chance to make an error with the C# 1 calling code.
At the end of an interesting talk, we were left everyone with a chunk of interesting thoughts…
- f# is complicated but it has lots of inertia in the industry
- Learn F# to improve your c# (and vb.net ;p)
- Think about what is coming in future, dotnet 5
IMHO the future is more CPUs, so its worth bearing in mind when looking to the future.
Unfortunately I missed the start of this talk due to the start of a migraine, starting to feel very tired, and listening to Jon Skeet outside the hall for the first 15 mins of this session. I stood at the back with @NathanGloyn and I took the opportunity to charge all mu devices, which stopped me from taking any notes. Ian defended WPF throughout the session but in my mind didn’t really give much to backup his defence. I’ve seen WPF before and yes it has its advantages and yes it will be used but I still don’t get the separation between Silverlight and WPF. In my mind why separate the two it would be much better to have Silverlight, Silverlight, even if there are differences diluting two frameworks and having two brands doesn't seem the most sensible strategic decision.
And with that that was it, another long development day. We all caught the bus back to the train station and scuttled off home on the train. Thanks to all the organisers, and Microsoft for the venue, it was another fantastic day. Hopefully one day I will complete a blog post on the day of a DDD event before a migraine stops me in my tracks!