Edmonton Code Camp – Sept 30

The day is over and, like the Calgary Code Camp held in late May; I can only say that I felt this event was a huge success. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and learned something new in every session I attended. My sincere thanks go out to Steven Rockarts for the work he did to put this event together and to the Edmonton .NET User Group for sponsoring the event. The executive of the user group also put in a lot of effort to make this event as successful as it was.
Here are the sessions I attended and my comments on each:
Justice Gray and Steven Rockarts – Ruby and .NET
    Wow… this was a laser beam of Ruby goodness. Straight to the point and filled with lots of good information. Both Justice and Steven certainly know their stuff when it comes to the ins and outs of this recently popularized language. I have never used or seen Ruby in use prior to this session and have only heard the hype surrounding it. My impressions are that Ruby is due some looking into but that it is in dire need of an IDE. Though I know that all programming starts with a notepad implementation, new and emerging languages may suffer in the popularity department simply due to it seeming like a step back when you have to develop without the support of some of the tools that help us to be more productive in producing business value. The demonstration of Watir was entertaining, but also showed the first tool (?) produced in Ruby (that I am aware of) that is definitely adding to the arsenal of development tools that can be used to increase the quality of our released products. This session was PACKED with a lot of information! Thanks Justice and Steven.
Neil Bourgeois – OO Programming in .NET for Procedural Developers
    This session likely had the largest immediate relevance to what I currently do in my job. I work on an application that was originally, and is still largely, produced in VB6. The impact of this is that even the spattering of .NET code in the product suffers from a procedural mindset in its implementation. This session was straight-ahead taking code that is typical of the procedural programming I have had exposure with and migrating it to a cleaner object oriented programming design without changing the desired outcome of the application. I am definitely going to take this back to the company I work for and push to get these concepts implemented.
John Bristowe – Producing Gadgets for Windows Live and Windows Vista
    I have seen John present on a number of topics. He has some seriously in-depth knowledge and you always get something from his presentations. The best thing about his presentations is that, though he is a Microsoft employee and lives in Calgary (don’t hold that against him); he doesn’t go down the marketing path and never misleads developers to put on rose-colored glasses. He warned developers of the lacking documentation when it comes to developing gadgets for Vista and also expressed his dislike for dynamic languages (specifically javascript though, because Justice was in the room, I am certain there was a hint of a shot at Ruby). He showed how easy it really is to produce these gadgets for both environments using HTML, javascript, and a small XML file. One comment that he made definitely rang true for me. He mentioned that these are a pain to develop but that management in Microsoft is getting very excited about these things (specifically in the Vista platform) and I can totally see why. For very little investment, developers can produce something that looks consistent and high-quality with the platform and could easily be used to provide a dashboard view (think management dashboard for an application) that managers would definitely drool all over. I can see writing one of these up for management at the company I work for as a prototype and have them just go crazy for it (warning, if you do this, you may lead yourself to a world of gadget development).
Jean-Paul Boodhoo – Generics: They’re not just about collections
   JP is always very passionate, as I mentioned in a previous post, and this presentation was no exception. I love seeing developers who are passionate about the work they do bring that to their presentations. It definitely provides for an exciting and informative session.
  This session was based on the information from his MSDN Magazine article. I had read the article previously but this session definitely connected a lot more of the concepts into a logical sequence for me and gave me a better understanding of why the information he was writing about was so important. This presentation was very focused on relaying the information and, because there was so much of it and time constraints, caused JP to break some of his own development practices but, in my mind, was one of the best presentations I have seen JP deliver.
Overall, the day was fast-paced and definitely had a HIGH value for developers. As is the case with life, if you stay focused for that long a period, you end up feeling wiped. My mind was definitely blown away by the end of the day. So much good content, so little time to process. Thanks, again, to all involved in getting this event off the ground!

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