2008 Summer Road Trip - Day 1

So the  sun has set on day 1 of the Summer Road Trip 2008 in Auckland - The Presentation was done by JB, Chris and Myself this afternoon - it went very well, people enjoyed the content and the mix of integration, server management, database and development topics really meshed together nicely I thought...

There was enough to keep everyone interested, regardless of the hat you wear - and plenty of prizes too - well all love swag right?!

Big thanks to our MC Jaqcui, who handled the Intro and Outro and let everyone know about the local EllerslieCentral Auckland user group's - where I'll be sure to run a few sessions later in the year... and of course Darryl for handling some of the finer details like the venue, lunch, and the dinner afterwards - much appreciated.

For all those that came along - first off thanks for coming, obviously without participation in these events they'll just dry up and stop happening - and second don't forgot that there is no time like the present to start picking up these technologies and developing applications with and for them - the products are all but ready, so why can't you be (and not only are they great technologies, they're fun too).

The next presentation is in Tauranga - and there are still places left, so sign up here -
It's going to be on tomorrow (5th of Feb) at 1:00pm I believe.

And finally a short plug ;o)

For anyone that found this presentation interesting and would like to discuss the technical details of things like emerging technologies, general software Architecture, Developer Tools, Running software businesses etc.  I also organise the local
Sylvia Park Architecture Chat - which is a pretty casual meeting of some very smart people in the .Net Community.

We normally get together on a fortnightly basis at Garrisons in Sylvia Park and are always keen to have more people/fresh faces to come along and join in our discussions or even just float some development/architecture questions or problems you might have that the group can help solve - keep an eye on my blog, or the dot.net.nz mailing list for announcements of when we'll next be meeting up :)

And all are welcome of course!

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Architecture Chat #23 Tomorrow.

The Sylvia Park Architecture Chat is to be held this Thursday, 11:30am at Garrisons in Sylvia Park.

I think we are well and truly into the digestion phase after being flooded with so many product drops and previews over the last few months - announcements are low, but the amount of content about taking advantage of what's finally in our hands is increasing... arguably this is far more interesting/rewarding then actually getting the tech drops in the first place.

At any rate, things that have caught my eye this week (not much as you'll see, I haven't had much opportunity to read blogs over the last few weeks):

If anyone has any topic suggestions, either fire me a comment/email or just bring yourself along - all are welcome.
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Architecture Chat 22

Sorry about the late write-up, been a little busy!

Small turn out, with 5 us in all, including new comer Jamie - a recent graduate from
Auckland University, it was great to talk with someone just
entering the industry proper and I think everyone else found it
very interesting to hear about what's going on at Auckland

So first off we discussed adventures with alternative licensing
products - Gareth had a few war stories, and mentioned he's
returned to using .Net
and got a refund on the previous product he tried out
because it just wasn't living up to expectations, and had some
questionable weak points.

We talked about the C5
Generic Collection Library
- though none of us have attempted
to use them in anger, a few people had heard about them recently
because it seems to be doing the podcast/blog rounds, even though
the project first debuted at the start of 2006, and was in
development well before then.

The classes were developed at the IT University in Copenhagen,
and feature a large number of specialised collections, as well as
introducing features to provide event handlers and sliding views,
support for clearing collection ranges etc.

There is a recent video on MSDN Channel 9, which is worth a
as well.

Because we didn't have it in our hands last year before I wrapped
up the Architecture Chat I discussed the ASP.Net Web Extensions CTP, mentioning the amount of
community interest in MVC and that the Data Services (Astoria) is
looking better and better.

From there we talked about the MVC Contrib. project
(and community) that's sprung up after the ASP.Net MVC release,
which is getting some New Zealander's attention around the world
because of their contributions of both an XSLT View engine and NHaml View engine - the contrib project is also providing
integration with the popular IoC containers in .Net and a number
of other extensions.

I talked about F# parsing, and my explorations of writing parsers
in F#, especially after reading the series
of posts
from DevHawk (Harry
, and experimenting with writing DSL's in F# by
hand.  I think my next "goal" is to master integrating F#
libraries into my C# code, so I can commercialize on it and start
weaving it into my day to day tool set.

I'm not sure I articulated how elegant F# syntax can be - but
hand writing custom parsers in F# with the aid of Active Patterns
is much nicer then the equivalent in a language like C#, If
you're following the pragmatic programmer guidelines of learning
a language a year, you could do much worse than to learn F# for
2008, it certainly gives the brain a good workout :)

From their I mentioned PEX for use in automated
white box testing - Jamie said he had worked on a 4th
year project to do automated black box testing, and found it
interesting that white box testing of this nature could be made
viable/useful... PEX seems to have done it though.

Though it's not been made available to the general public as yet
(only academia) - I suggest having a listen to this hanselminutes
and then watching this screencast
to get a better idea of just what PEX is doing/aiming to
achieve...  I find the support for
mocking particularly interesting, as I'm always sceptical of
automated test generation, as it normally falls apart once you
start to work objects when have numerous injected dependencies
that are used by the class to do it's work.

Last of all I mentioned TeamCity (JetBrains CI
& Build server) Professional Edition is
, and I've been starting to play with it - and
considering migrating over from my current CruiseControl.Net
setup for new projects, I'm going to trial it on a small project
and see if it's worth moving to for what I do.

Last of all - though I forgot to mention it at the time - I've
also been looking at Jazz (or more so Rational
Team Concert) lately, it certainly looks to resolve many of the
headaches I suffer with managing concurrent versions of products,
especially from the build server perspective - obviously anything
with the name "Rational" is to be feared by the small or micro
ISV because of prohibitive costs - but it's nice to see just how
they approach solving the problem, as shown in the video
a bug in a previous release

Not a bad start to the year, hopefully we can make the next one
bigger and better, and maybe get some more long-running
architectural discussions going on ... maybe around Behavior Driven
or maybe Feature Driven
and what makes it more suitable for fixed-price

See you all next time!

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More .Net Reactor News

Update: 22nd May 2008 - Please if you have any
.Net reactor related queries, post them to this google
, rather then emailing me directly, as you're more likely
to get a response.  Cheers!

If you recall in the last Architecture Chat (#21)
Gareth of Slyce Software
mentioned the demise of .Net Reactor, a German code
obfuscation product that many users swear by.. but over the past 2
or so months it went completely dark as the company ceased
responding to any correspondence, or making releases - where as
prior they were almost phenomenally fast to get back to queries,
and we releasing every couple of weeks.

Well I got an interesting email from a .Net Reactor user who has
been suffering the same issues, not having a response out the
company in the last couple of months but he did advise that
releases are starting to flow out the company again, with 3 new
versions released in December... so things could be looking up,
even if the wall of silence continues.

Apparently it got so bad that even some add-on vendors have
withdrawn in-prorgess products due to a lack of communication with
Eziriz - what I find interesting here is how quickly all the good
work you can do building up a community around a product for
developers can unwind - and demonstrates how important a visible
"heartbeat" for a product is to keeping trust in your project - be
it through regular releases, actively participating in forums and
mailing lists or at the very least publishing the odd bit of news
on your site.

Fingers crossed the company starts answering peoples emails again
at any rate - it'd be a shame to see a popular product's community
turn their back on it just because their worried it's going to
dissappear completely.

Right, so yes, there is a point to this post - assuming the worst
and .Net Reactor is winding down, can anyone else recommend an
obfuscation/licensing products in the sub 300 US$ range that works


Shortly after posting this I was notified that Apparently
everything is good once more in .Net Reactor land with the lead
developer having been taken away from development due to other life
issues taking over in the later part of last year, but he's back
and developing/communicating once more so it should be "business as

I look forward to seeing what cool things Eziriz get up to in

Edit (Again):

And shortly after that I also got an email, so everything is
definitely fine once more with .Net Reactor:

Dear Mr. Henderson, I am sorry for the problems you had with my
product support. Gareth Hayter referred me to your blog. Please
be sure, .NET Reactor product development/support is firing on
all cylinders again.

Best regards,

Denis Mierzwiak, Chief Technical Officer.

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Architecture Chat #22 This Thursday

So, the Sylvia Park Architecture Chat is back for 2008 - To be held this Thursday, 11:30am at Garrisons in Sylvia Park.

Some possible topics for discussion are listed below, though feel free to suggest additional topics either via a comment on this post or email - I haven't been keeping much of an eye on technology over the xmas break.

  • ASP.Net Web Extensions CTP Preview Was Released, including MVC, Dynamic Data Support (scaffolding *yawn*), Silverlight extensions & Data Services (Astoria).
  • MvcContrib project sparked off - adding NVelocity, NHaml (developed by Andrew Peters) and Xslt  (Developed by Ivan Porto Carrero) view engines to the ASP.Net MVC project as well as providing integration with a select number of IoC containers and other improvements to make the ASP.Net MVC CTP easier to work with i.e. convention over configuration.
  • The Castle Refactor - Monorail is getting an overhaul in the Castle Project, and they are in the process of moving to the NHibernate (2.0) Trunk as well.  Hopefully it will make my guide to running with the "trunks" largely obsolete.
  • Parallel FX CTP - We didn't talk about this last time, might be worth giving it a look.
  • Practical F# Parsing - I mentioned a little bit about parsing with F# at the last Architecture, and this series I've been watching with interest as it's covered off implementing a PEG parser with F# -writing Parsers with F# is pretty slick
    compared to object oriented languages.
  • Internet Explorer 8 announcements.
  • Rod Drury - For anyone involved in a startup from day one I'm sure we can give these series of posts (1,2 & 3 of 6 so far) a definite head nod (or a long drawn out
    sigh for guidance arriving to late ;o)

See you all there!
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