DeveloperDeveloperDeveloper II

Today was another good developer day. I know it's double geeky going to Microsoft on a Saturday, but hey, I'm a geek (even the geeks I work with think I'm geeky).

The sessions were really good, and I had to miss a couple that clashed with ones I went to. The first one was about CodeSmith, which I wasn't sure about attending, as I've used it quite a bit already. Simon Thorneycroft and Jonathan Hodgson gave me a tip-off beforehand that everyone going would get a free CodeSmith professional licence, which kind of made up my mind to go. Despite my impure motives, it was a good presentation, and it was good to see the full version in use; being a cheapskate, I've only ever used the freeware version.

Alex Homer's talk on XML reading and writing was excellent. I've been using the .NET 2005 XML classes for a while now, and some of them were still quite a mystery until Alex went through them. He has an easy, methodical style, and he seems to pack a lot in to an hour. This was probably the most useful session that I attended. I won a copy of his book on ADO.NET and System.Xml; hopefully I'll get more use out of it than the prize I won at the last event (there's still no takers).

The XSLT and XPath talk by the chuckle brothers was the most entertaining of the day. I noticed one of them taking a photo of the audience, so I grinned like a loony (that's me in the front row, um, grinning). Don't be fooled: although it looks otherwise, I was actually wearing matching shoes.

After lunch, I went to see Mike Roberts talk about .NET development trees. I've previously read his blog entry about the subject when I was setting up SourceSafe at work. The session started with group hugs discussions about what goes wrong when trying to build a project for the first time after joining a team. There were many sage hmmmms of agreement about version controlling database schemas - Simon Thorneycroft and I discussed it at a Sussex geek dinner recently. What was encouraging about this session was that most of the things mentioned as good source control practices we actually do at EurotaxGlass's.

Barry Dorrans' MSBuild talk was really good. I had considered volunteering to do a talk on MSBuild myself, but when I saw that Barry had already offered, I backed away slowly, making no sudden movements. Barry is way more qualified than me to talk on the subject, as he wrote some of the SDC MSBuild tasks, whereas I just use exec tasks to call command line programs.

Simon Thorneycroft and Jonathan Hodgson
were clearly much more knowledgable about the intestines of .NET than I'll be for a long time. Their talk on CLR, GC and design patterns was well prepared, with an imaginative use of gift-wrapped boxes being passed around the audience as a metaphor for the garbage collector.

One of the good things about attending a community event is the community bit. I met a couple of people in the flesh for the first time. Helen Emerson and I have commented on each other's blogs for ages, so it was cool to actually meet her in the flesh.

I recognised Oliver Sturm from his photo on his weblog, and introduced myself. After chatting for a while, I found out that he's about to start working for Developer Express. In the last fortnight, I've started using their grid control, which Oliver's used for ages, and has helped out supporting it. I fear I may be pestering him soon...

After much practising with a hairbrush in front of a mirror, Benjamin Mitchell has finally worked out how to rhyme data with later. I have a couple of Seth Ifrican friends who (as well as Australians) also rhyme data with garter. It wouldn't be right if I didn't spot another pronounciation idiosyncrasy: Barry pronounced project to rhyme with blow-ject, rather than the more conventional object.

After hours socialising: Microsoft booked a bar for a couple of hours, and there was an attendees' geek dinner after the event finished, but I had a gig, so unfortunately I couldn't go.

I'm going to put a phot on my blog: three times this week I've come across something that made me think it was a good idea. Firstly, I read a blog post about the 10 things a blog should do (or have, or something - sorry, can't find link aha, found it). Secondly, recognising Oliver, and thirdly someone talking about it in one of the sessions. I might use the one I put on hot or not - I got a surprisingly high 5.9!
23 October 2005