# Friday, March 04, 2005

Last night I spoke at the Metro Toronto .NET Users Group on Interop between J2EE and .NET apps, using a variety of techniques but especially Web Services. There was a bit of code, but really the emphasis was on philosophy, the kind of “big picture” approaches you can take to make interop happen. I mentioned more than once that it's important to know what exactly you mean by interop and what it is that you want your two (or three, or more) applications to be able to do together. The sorts of projects that really don't work are the ones that start “how can we use BizTalk in our firm?”. Start with a business problem, and if it looks like BizTalk will make it possible to solve the problem, then go from there, but don't pick the solution and then go looking for a problem.

This came back around in the post-presentation questions and chat, and we got to talking about the importance of requirements. I'm hip deep in a project where we spent months just settling the requirements, but as a result the project has moved forward into code after spending years (before I came on board) getting about halfway through design and then stopping and starting over. For Enterprise work (and these interop issues are generally Enterprise) there is simply no substitute for real solid business requirements that are completely nailed down before anyone starts designing, followed by a properly thought through design. I don't go through all that for three day projects, putting together a little Sharepoint web part or some Windows Service that sends email at night about additions to the database today, but I sure go through it for anything that needs more than one programmer or that will take more than a month.

I was reminded of a funny article I read a while back called Agile Bridge Building, which mocks Agile Software Development by dissing bridge design in favour of showing the client Working Wood as soon as possible. Basically, you stick a log out into the river and right away you've started to build your bridge. This process naturally produces requirements, since now we have consensus that the log should actually reach all the way to the other side of the river! Why waste a lot of time in meetings trying to develop this requirement in advance? Once there's working wood, a genuine prototype, the stakeholders can quickly agree on what's important. And all without the hassles of paying someone for requirements and design. There's more, so I recommend you read the whole article. And to be honest, if I lived in the woods and was sick of wading through a small stream to get to the far side of my property, I probably would apply Agile Bridge Building to the problem, just as I don't particularly design every speck of software I write. But I'm glad the folks who built the bridges I drove over today designed them first, and I'm glad I know how to gather requirements, get consensus on functionality, and design the big projects I code before I code them.


Friday, March 04, 2005 9:45:29 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    
# Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Once again Fawcette have tapped a number of Toronto folks and given us not-so-secret discount codes for VSLive registrations. That's right, register for VSLive Toronto, enter KATE as your priority code (where it says "Please enter the first five digits of your conference priority code") and presto! you get 10% off.

VSLive is April 13th to 16th, and there are early bird prices until March 16th. This year it's divided into ASP and Smart Client, and it's packed with Whidbey (aka 2005 or 2.0) material. The agenda is at http://www.ftponline.com/conferences/vslive/2005/to/agenda.aspx with session details at http://www.ftponline.com/conferences/vslive/2005/to/asp-sessions.aspx and http://www.ftponline.com/conferences/vslive/2005/to/smart-sessions.aspx. You'll see plenty of familiar names speaking, and there's sure to be more good stuff announced as we get closer to the date. So make your plans, and I'll see you there.


Wednesday, March 02, 2005 10:22:51 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    
# Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Lots of Tech Ed rejection letters this year -- I got five myself -- but in the end I am giving ALL the C++ talks -- really I am! Well, that is to say, both of them. But at the moment I only see two Visual Basic and two C# talks, so I don't feel bad. The talks, and current abstracts, are:

Visual C++ and .NET: Great Performance, Full Access and Easy Migration of Existing Code

Abstract: The enhancements to Visual C++ 2005 enable it to stand toe-to-toe with any tool in terms of support for the .NET Framework. In fact, in many ways it can do things no other tool can. Learn how the CLR brings new features such as garbage collection, generics, reflection, and verifiability to C++ ... and how C++ brings deterministic cleanup, templates, and meta programming to the CLR! Learn how to easily migrate existing native code - including MFC applications - to run under the CLR. Strategies for choosing which parts of the application remain native and which are managed will be discussed. Finally, this session will provide guidance on how to build high-performance managed "wrappers" enabling reuse of native libraries.

Visual C++ 2005: A Look at the New Features for Building Fast Native and Managed Code

Abstract: Whether you build end-to-end applications or components for enhancing larger applications, the new Visual C++ 2005 is the power tool for Windows programming.  In this presentation we’ll spend extensive time in the Visual C++ 2005 development environment – highlighting new productivity features – as we dive into its support for building high-performance, first-class native and managed applications.  You’ll learn about native code compiler optimizations, security enhancements, 64-bit development, and support for multiprocessor/grid computing systems.  In addition, this presentation will demonstrate how Visual C++ 2005 now provides CLR/.NET Framework support that allows it to stand toe-to-toe with any other tool in terms of elegance and productivity…with the additional benefit of high-performance access to native code and the ability to easily move native code to the managed environment.  

You'll want to attend both, of course. Register now!

As well, the Women In Technology lunch will be happening again and I'm looking forward to another panel appearance. This is shaping up to be another great Tech Ed... as long as some more familiar faces start to show up on the speakers list.



Tuesday, March 01, 2005 9:04:57 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    
# Friday, February 18, 2005

Monday the 21st is the February meeting for the East of Toronto user group. Please visit http://gtaeast.torontoug.net/ug_events/936.aspx to register.

This event will consist of an overview of methods for interoperating between Java-based systems and NET including XML document exchange, shared database, messaging, web services, and Java to .NET bridges. We’ll spend the bulk of the time on a detailed analysis of the approaches and methods for web services-based interop between apps and systems running on .NET and other technologies.

I'll be doing this same talk myself March 3rd, so I'll be taking detailed notes while Adam is presenting :-)


Friday, February 18, 2005 2:42:03 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    
# Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Spring may not be in the air yet, but some sort of economic recovery certainly is. I've got complete strangers calling me asking us to help with their problems, established clients ramping up ongoing projects, and just generally too much work for us all to handle. So I need an experienced dev who can jump on board and start coding, designing, documenting, and generally helping with all that we do. While I have in the past hired new grads and relatively inexperienced people, right down to high school interns, this is not one of those times. I want a senior person. Ideally someone who started using .NET before it was public or shortly after, and who has experience in other ways of doing things as well as the .NET way.

Think that's you? Or someone you know? Head on over to http://www.gregcons.com/seniordev.htm for a little more detail and some application instructions. Please don't try to apply by leaving comments on the blog or by emailing me directly. I am looking for someone smart and capable, and someone who knows the value of a little process in a chaotic world.


Wednesday, February 16, 2005 1:26:26 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    
# Monday, February 14, 2005

For several months now, I've been plagued by unexpected language changes while I'm typing. I'll type one character, maybe a quote or a question mark, and I'll get a really strange character instead, say a capital E with an accent on it. I came to realize that it was the language settings, and I keep the language bar on my toolbar so I can flip back to English whenever this strange thing happens. But I didn't know why it was happening, and I found stopping what I was doing to mouse over to the bar and click back to the language I wanted very frustrating.

Well, now I know what was going on! ALT-SHIFT rotates through the languages. I'm a huge ALT-TAB user, and I ALT-SHIFT-TAB when I need to cycle backwards through that list. I also use a fair amount of other ALT-things, like ALT-A to bring up the favourites menu in IE, then arrow keys to choose an item. I really prefer the keyboard to the mouse. Well I guess every once in a while an ALT-SHIFT gets through to the language bar and flips my language. So now when I go to type a URL and see ццц I can quickly make it right.

Лфеу (er, Kate)

Monday, February 14, 2005 6:41:55 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    
# Thursday, February 10, 2005

OK, I did the blogmap thing:


This is my Peterborough office, not that I'm there very often...


Thursday, February 10, 2005 6:08:19 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    
# Tuesday, February 01, 2005

110.00, 107.50, 105.00, 102.50, 101.00, 100.00

What do these numbers have in common? They are losing bids for the consultant auction :-). Time is running out, the auction closes tomorrow morning, 9am Eastern, and now is the time to boost your bid and catapult yourself up the list! Lowest winning bid at the moment is $120... let's drive it up!


Tuesday, February 01, 2005 6:01:23 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #