Module 1 High Points – Side by Side Implications

I’m really excited about my new “What’s New in .NET 4.5” course on Pluralsight.


There’s more information in the course than I could stuff into my blog in a year, but I want to cover a few high points here. I wrote the course as “What I want every coder and manager to know about this release,” but I know you won’t all get a chance to watch it. So, I’ll cover what I can here, starting with a series of short posts with the most important point, or maybe two, in each of the eight modules.


Module 1 – Introduction


Yes, the introduction is more than an agenda slide J


As an in-place release, there are two versions of the .NET 4 libraries – no, wait three versions – and probably more in the future. That’s right, I said the .NET 4 libraries – it doesn’t matter whether your targeting .NET 4.0 or 4.5. I know that sounds a little crazy, but I’m afraid we’re going to have to get used to the craziness.


You probably don’t control the version of the .NET framework that’s running in production. Another application installation, or the user, or an operating system upgrade (Windows 8 or Server 2012), or at some future point Windows Update could upgrade a target computer to a new version of .NET 4 without you touching your deployed application in any way.


That should scare you, but it’s part of the brave new world. Microsoft is tooling itself for fast incremental releases, led by the fantastic advancements in the Azure space. There’s a good side of this and a bad side of this, and in the end I’m not sure it matters very much what I think.


So, you’ve got to learn about this release, whether or not you intend to target .NET 4.5 in the foreseeable future. And we need to ferret out ways for ongoing validation of our working systems – validated algorithms, in-place production testing, and widespread use of tracing (oh wait! that’s module 3 on ETW support).


I said there were three, versions of the .NET 4.0 framework in the wild – there are probably more with hot fixes, but these are the three you need to know about.


- .NET 4.0 released with VS 2010 (4.0.30319.1)


- .NET 4.5 released with VS 2012, regardless of target platform (4.0.30319.17929)


o Please don’t run this version this pre-January 2013 updates version if you can help it


o You may not be able to ensure your user’s install this recommended upgrade


o There’s a corresponding security update that is separate and required


- .NET 4.5 reliability (and security) update released January 8, 2013 (4.0.30319.18033)


-


If you’re not thoughtful, you may be testing against a different version of the framework than the one your users are running.


On a particular machine, you can determine whether the updates are installed through Windows Update history, the registry, or the version number on something like mscorlib.dll in the GAC (oh wait! that’s module 8 on breaking changes). You can also test for the existence of the type System.ReflectionContext if you want to know whether you’re working with a version above the VS 2010 libraries (4.0.30319.1). Test for a type, not a member (reflection considerations are in module 2 on the core framework changes) and not the specific version number, which might be fragile going forward.


There are at least four ways the new version of .NET will affect your code:


- When new libraries are installed in production (what I’m talking about in this post)


- When you recompile with the VS 2012 compilers (regardless of your target version)


- When you target .NET 4.5 for its awesome new features


- When you rerun custom tools


- When a computer you exchange data with upgrades libraries


The five point survival guide is test, test, test, test, test, test. And that’s regardless of when you plan to explicitly target .NET 4.5.


Overall .NET 4.5 is awesome and the compatibility of the new libraries is good. But, if your one of the unlucky ones that encounter a problem, the probabilities don’t matter at all.


Whether it’s through my course or other venues – if you’re responsible for production code, you really need to learn about .NET 4.5 and start considering how you’re going to accommodate the new fast moving cycles.

DevIntersection

I thought I should post a status after being so quiet on Twtiter and my blog.

I had a really fun, intense time putting together my next Pluralsight video. It’s delayed for a technical screw-up on my part, but it should be up in the next week or two.

Upcoming, I’ll be at DevIntersection (www.Devintersection.com). I think it’s going to be an awesome show – check out the line- up of speakers. There’s also a great pre/post con deal – registering for the conference and pre or post con gets you a tablet as well! And if you use the discount code DOLLARD (how easy is that to remember) you’ll get $50 off!

If you haven’t heard of DevIntersection, that’s because it’s a new conference. But don’t worry, it will be smooth and professionally run with leadership and staff that are some of the most experienced around in presenting conferences for developers

I’ll be teaching you things you don’t know or have forgotten about the core .NET framework in a pre-conference workshop titled “Getting the Most from the .NET Framwork”. Half the day is fast paced puzzle format with plenty of surprises for even the most experienced .NET programmer. I get asked whether the details matter – I pick puzzles because they affect what code runs, the result of calculations, might have significant performance implications, and help you better understand the framework. This understanding helps you read code, and it helps you right code with minimal surprises – bugs based on surprises are hard to find!

In the afternoon I’ll move through potentially challenging areas of the framework improving your mental models of how and why things work. I’ll teach the why and how, not demonstrate the how-to. You need both, but this day is dedicated to making you a smarter, more robust programmer.

If you live in Vegas or can get there easily, you can register separately for pre and post conferences – but then you’ll miss the show!

The next conference I’m scheduled for is DevTeach, May 37-31 outside Toronto. I’m looking forward to celebrating DevTeach’s 10th anniversary.