Back in the saddle…

It’s been quite a while since I’ve made the time to blog, and for that I apologize!  I’ve been quite busy this year- CodeMash in January, on the road a lot, had a child in April, and made a career change in Oct. Boy does time fly!


So what have I been up to…  During most of 2007, I spent a lot of time internally managing many of the software development projects, including a pilot implementation of MOSS (SharePoint) and projects from an SOA proof of concept to implementing BI.  In October I decided it was finally time to move on (after 5 1/2 years) and started in a new role as a technical architect and engagement manager with Perficient.  I am very happy with this move, and especially excited to be working with a fellow MVP, co-user group leader and friend- Jason Follas. 


Community wise, I just presented at the last Northwest Ohio .NET User Group meeting on the topic of “Developing with Windows XNA for the Xbox 360”.  It was more of a high-level presentation that covered many of the basics. I walked through a great example called “Cops and Robbers”, created by George Clingerman, an XNA MVP. George did a great job illustrating good design and a straight forward approach to development using XNA.  You can check it out by going to his site- http://www.xnadevelopment.com/tutorials/copsandrobbers/copsandrobbers.shtml .  Additionally, the Northwest Ohio .NET User Group (which I founded and co-lead with Jason) is growing and we are planning on taking things to the next level in 2008. 


 

Northwest Ohio .NET User Group (2/20 meeting) summary

We had a great meeting at the Northwest Ohio .NET User Group last night. I was pleasently surprised by a larger-than-expected crowd.  We had our “launch event” so I’m guessing some of the extras were due to that.  Our launch event consisted of me presenting a quick session on IIS 7 and its virtues.  Looking forward to using IIS 7- lots of good benefits and Vista allows users to get ready for deploying web apps on Longhorn Server.  I jokingly mentioned that since IIS 7 on vista no longer has the 10 connections limitations that developers could run IIs 7 apps in production. I really was kidding- please don’t run apps in production from Vista!! Development only! 🙂   In all seriousness, the new management console, web.config options for web site configuration, ease of extensibility and creating custom ISAPI filters is way cool.  I particularly liked the demo that came on the launch presentation CD that showed how to automagically append copyright notices to every image that came through the pipeline with a few lines of C# code.


We also had Ken Kutz and Reuben Ahmed speak on code generation and agile development methodologies.  They’ve done some really cool stuff with DotNetNuke. Simply create a database schema, and point the code generator tool at it.  It will generate a DNN friendly module that can be plugged right in. On a related note, Jason Follas mentioned a similar tool called CodeSmith.  I have heard of it but never used it, but just downloaded it and will be playing around with it.  Jason says he uses it regularly for developing the data tiers. I’m looking forward to trying it out.


 

ASP.NET Ajax

In case you haven’t heard yet, ASP.NET Ajax 1.0 has been released! This is fully supported by Microsoft.  It’s great to see the culmination of effort by the ASP.NET team. 


http://weblogs.asp.net/scottgu/archive/2007/01/23/asp-net-ajax-1-0-released.aspx


The great news about ASP.NET Ajax library is that it caters to “both” kinds of developers- Client Centric, as well as Server Centric.


Client centric developers can very easily plug in to the javascript library.  For those of you who have been writing Javascript and remember technologies like remote scripting, the web service behavior, etc. you can now tap into a very powerful library that is cross browser compatible and abstracts usage of making remote rpc calls.


The great news for traditional ASP.NET developers, as well as those who despise writing Javascript, is that EVERYONE can now easily harness the power of rich client web applications. The ASP.NET team has really made it painless to add this type of functionality. If you want to be able to do cool things like automatically update a portion of a web browser without visibly posting back the entire page, you can easily add ASP.NET Ajax to your EXISTING web application with the UpdatePanel control.    That is the great news about this- you’re not re-writing your application to implement Ajax. In addition, the ASP.NET control toolkit (http://ajax.asp.net/ajaxtoolkit/) integrates with the ASP.NET Ajax Library and provides server centric developers with some great out of the box controls, from drop down extenders (pick a state, get back a list of cities from a web services w/o having to preload everything) to adding cool DHTML code (such as draggable panels and animations).    It’s shared source and hosted on CodePlex.


Hope you enjoy this release. Now go and make your apps ajax’d!! 

Codemash Summary

Codemash was a really great conference.  Kudos to all the planners- you guys did an awesome job. It totally blew my expectations away!   


I’d say the highlight today was hearing Scott Guthrie. He is by far one of my favorite presenters (I LOVE his tips and tricks sessions) and delivered a great keynote. It was more “down in the weeds” with the new LINQ stuff, which I think as Dustin says, will be the next “darling of .NET”. I thought it was very applicable and I’m sure developers from other backgrounds found it interesting.  I was a little bummed I couldn’t make his talk on ASP.NET Ajax Tips and Tricks, but I happened to be presenting at the same time on Intro to Ajax.  I was actually pleasantly surprised there was a showing in my session- it was more geared on the abstract/ conceptual and I think that helped.


Oh, and things kept getting better as the day went on! After all the sessions were over, everyone was in a hurry to fill out the codemash conference eval. We filled up the Indigo room and the planners roled out the “swag waggon”. It was quite impressive.  I won a hard cover book entitled “Refactoring Databases- Evolutionary Database Design” by Scott W. Ambler and Pramod J. Sadalage.  Scott was speaking at the conference, and I got to eat breakfast with him on the first day. I know this one will be a great addition to the library.  And it gets better! I put my name in the box at the Microsoft booth… And sure enough, Josh Holmes called my name for the Xbox 360!  The one with the hard drive, at that!  Two more of the five individuals that went from my company also won great prizes, including an IPod and a portable DVD player.


What a great way to end the week. 

Codemash Day 1- Up and Running

Codemash officially started today.  I must say I have been very impressed by just about everything so far.  The venue (Kalahari) is excellent.  Jason Follas, a good friend of mine (and president of NWNUG) said it’s like being on the west coast in terms of the facility.  I would have to agree!  I’d been to Kalahari some time ago but never got a chance to go in the conference area.   Great choice, codemash organizers!


We kicked off today with a keynote by Neal Ford.  The conference room was chocked full, and I think everyone that attended got something out of it.  I particularly enjoyed the DSL (Domain Specific Language) stuff he was talking about, and comparing it to what we do day-to-day with various programming languages. I must say the “spirit” here at codemash is unique and this talk kind of typified it.  Typically I go to  a conference where it is platform specific- which is nice, but sometimes it seems like I am hearing the same thing all the time.  Here, many of the attendees and presenters are from all kinds of backgrounds. So far I’ve made it a point to go to sessions that are language/platform neutral.  I went to a turbogears presentation, briefly hopped in on a MySql talk, and even picked up on some python along the way.  It’s amazing to see the similarities in concepts, and that we are all solving problems in similar (and sometimes different) ways.  I think it is a great learning process.  I had a conversation with someone about technology who was more of an open source advocate, and didn’t even realize it until about 30 minutes after we started talking about the virtues of Ajax.


So anyway… Codemash is great, and I really hope the community can continue great conferences like this. Hopefully the word will get out and we’ll be able to do this again soon.


Oh, and BTW, if you are at codemash and reading this, be sure to blog your own entry. Apparently, Josh Holmes (Microsoft DPE) will be shaving his head if we get enough blogs!  Now if that isn’t motivation….

Technorati Profile

Codemash… just a few more days

Here I am on a Monday afternoon wrapping up my presentations for Codemash.  Fortunately, I had the day off. Glad I did!


I’m going to be speaking on two sessions. The first one is an Intro to Ajax. If you have been living under a rock for the last few years you will want to see this one.   This particular presentation is on the methodologies track. So it’s going to be more conceptual and principle oriented- not as much hardcore code. Though there will be code!  In addition to Microsoft ASP.NET Ajax, I’ll also be presenting on using Ajax with Ruby on Rails.


My second session will be a deeper dive into Microsoft ASP.NET Ajax and the control toolkit. I’ve got about 7 demos, and I’m going to try to keep this one heavy on the code and light on the powerpoint.  The demos are a good showcase through what is available on the Microsoft ASP.NET Ajax platform, SOON to be RTM (maybe ScottGu will announce it, as he is going to be there?).


Hope to see you there.  Kalahari is going to rock. I am sure this will be a conference to remember.

MVP Award Renewed for 2007!

Just got the e-mail.. My MVP status has been renewed for 2007!  Awesome!


I’m really thrilled to continue to be involved in the MVP program. It is a great way to keep up to date with Microsoft and all the great new stuff they are putting out- and to have some input into future products, and to get some recognition for community activity.  Most of my activity is “off-line” as a MVP, doing presentations (some very exciting ones planned this year!!) and helping lead the Northwest Ohio .NET User Group, and of course being involved as an INETA membership manager for Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. 


I know this year will be exciting. We’ve got some launch events planned early on (Feb) and of course Codemash, which I’ve been busily preparing for. Be sure to sign up if you haven’t already.  Looking forward to a great new year… Wishing everyone a happy new year!!


 

Codemash Conference

If you’re in the midwest, please consider coming to Codemash!  This is going to be a rockin’ conference. We are even going to have one of my favorite presenters, authors, and just all-around cool guys Scott Guthrie as a keynote speaker!


This event is being organized by several volunteers. I am very excited to have been involved in the early on planning of this event, and seeing how things are unfolding.  This event will be held in Sandusky, OH at Kalahari, an indoor water park in January.  What could be more fun than surfing in the winter and getting to learn about technology too??


http://www.codemash.org/


The really cool thing about this event is that it’s turly a “mash” of many languages and technologies. You’ll hear presentations from community leaders on all sorts of cool stuff including C#, Java (can I say that?), PHP, Python, Ruby, and others.


And… I just heard back today that two of my abstracts were accepted! I am very excited about that. I will be presenting an introduction to Ajax, and also “Using the Microsoft Ajax Library”.  If you read my blog you’ll know that I’ve been doing a lot of work in this area. I think these will be some great topics and I am looking forward to presenting them. I hope you will consider coming out- we are shooting for 500 attendees at this conference! It’s going to be HUGE!


Right now there is an early bird registration. So check out the site and hit “register” to find out more. You will get a room rate at Kalahari for $88 a night, which is REALLY cheap. Well worth it. Let me know if you plan on attending!!

CodeMash – I'll be there!

Microsoft Ajax (Atlas) Presentation – Tuesday, Sept 26 in Toledo

I will be presenting the "Atlas" bits in my home location of Toledo, OH Tuesday night.  Jason Follas (president of NWNUG) will also be presenting on .NET Delegates, inspired by Julie Lerman where she presented at FANUG last month.   More info at the user group web site.

For those of you who haven't heard yet, Atlas is going to be renamed to " Microsoft AJAX Library" which is the client-centric behavior.  The server centric stuff is now "ASP.NET 2.0 Extensions".   Of course, there are no bits yet to present with these new namespaces so you are going to see the July CTP at the presentation.   Unfortunately it also means there is going to be some work when you upgrade to the latest bits. However, it should be relatively easy… (simple name changes of tags, in theory).

My presentation will be a quick 20 minute introduction, and then some code snippets and techniques for the remainder of the time.   It is sure to be lots of fun.  If you are in the Toledo area, please make it out!  Our Developer Evangelist, Drew Robbins, is going to be there after all! (Sorry Drew, I'm not going to wear my hat!)

Oh, and if you keep seeing my mug under a sombrero, you can thank Jason Follas for that one. Apparently he couldn't find a better picture of me to use… 🙂