Architecture Chat 14

So yet another architecture chat come and gone, small turnout today, with 5 people I believe.

Had some interesting discussions none the less...

So first off a brief discussion around implementing OleDb i.e. what's involved in doing it yourself, is it worth it etc.  Alex James much prefers the idea of implementing an ADO.Net provider which is far easier, though obviously OleDB or ODBC provides a bridge to the past and to other technology platforms like php or ruby.

There are some products (such as the ones from ODBC SDK) which lets you write your own across a proprietary data source, though I'm not aware of any open source equivalent for assisting with the development of ODBC or Ole DB providers in .Net..??

After that we had a lengthy discussion about Microsoft Patterns & Practices, partly sparked by the first release of the Repository factory which seems like a bit of a non-event ... the discussion basically resolved around points such as:

  • Do they have some inbuilt desire to over-engineer these products (it definitely seems like it!)
  • Is the over-engineering perhaps sparked by a desire to appear "innovative" in the face of existing community projects, i.e. Enterprise Library logging must appear to innovate in the face of existing projects like log4net of nlogr, which already do what most developers need.
  • Are the features in the factories and libraries being driven by customer needs, or some high level vision that doesn't necessarily tie in directly with the pain developers are feeling?

I think the gut feeling of the group was that there's a definite lack of pragmatism or YAGNI in a lot of what's released from P&P which is putting people off diving any deeper, it's a shame considering the group as a whole won quite a lot of us over in the early days with the first release of the DAAB.

Moving from that we talked about the OpenXML debate... personally I thought the strong push from Microsoft came a little out of left field during Code Camp (much like the Mindscape presentation on Lightspeed ;o) - considering I hadn't heard much about it until then in the Microsoft community, and then we bashed around some thoughts, such as impacts of the standard being approved or not - and the motivations of people supporting either standard.   I think most of us aren't particularly concerned with the outcome because our projects don't normally encroach on the document generation / parsing  space - though I can certainly see it eventually having quite an impact on regional and local government for instance.

From their we talked about being entirely underwhelmed with vista sidebar gadgets, and the fact that the sand boxed environment of the gadget detracts largely from it's appeal of providing "context" related information for the application your focus is currently on at the time.  Obviously work-arounds exist, but I think we were hoping for a more formal publish-subscribe system attached to vista gadgets so information could be easily ferried between applications and vista gadgets in an unobtrusive and more formalized manor.

The Maxthon browser came up in conversation, PeterB mentioned using it a few weeks ago, and it looks like he's got at least one convert - in particular it seems that it gets around some of the annoying Internet explorer crashes on vista64, while still using the IE rendering engine etc.... I may well have to give it a go to fix Renee's Vista64 PC.

Also had a discussion around using Windows Workflow Foundation, both myself and David W are starting to delve into it for upcoming projects, and we're both finding if difficult to:

  • Find decent examples that don't target old beta's.
  • Searching only non-beta documentation.
  • Find examples which are sufficiently complex enough i.e. where's a "meaty" state engine example, rather then a toy.

Which also led onto the discussion around examples and blogging - we think products, like Windows workflow, really need some blogging community liaison that:
  • Blog's almost if not every day (small nuggets of valuable content, that will make for good search-engine fodder)
  • Releases a sample, say once a week up until the product is released, and then with follow up examples for a couple of months at least after release.
  • Maintains samples that are released on community sites as new CTP's and the all important RTM's are released, so they don't go stale over time.

Perhaps we've both overlooked some key resources - but it just seems like the content surrounding windows workflow foundation, particularly on sites like netfx3 are actively maintained until the products go final at which point, things such as samples are left targeting previous beta's and serving to confuse the community in many cases.

Next one is in 2 weeks, Thursday 6th September, we might even have a quick 15 minute screwturn plug-in development demo then... if Peter's in the mood.

Written on August 23, 2007