Architecture Chat 17

Sorry about the much belated write-up for the last Architecture Chat, been rushed off my feet of late, though a whole week's gone by now ... so the only real excuse could be that I've been a slack bastid.

So, first off... terrible turn out, with only myself and an envoy from Intergen turning up - hopefully not a sign of things to come (small numbers that is, not the intergen guys ;o) and also hopefully not something to put off the Intergen guys from making the trip out this way again (though I suspect Kurt would do it just to get Mexican) - Not to mention Peter losing out on some vital opportunities to introduce Wiki-love to some new comers!

So, as opposed to the usual mixed bag of discussions we focused largely on what tooling and practices Intergen Auckland use (and by comparison myself) - internally it sounds like they have a big drive towards

  • "All sorts of testing"
  • Continuous Integration / Build Servers

So we covered continuous integration (CC.Net) ... make tools i.e. Nant, which has adoption within Intergen, and MSBuild which I use (mostly because I swapped over during the first beta of VS2005, prior to Nant having support for the Framework 2.0, and never moved back) - the key observation was that MSBuild just seems to have very unintuitive syntax - i.e. a Nant build scripts reads a lot more like plain English then a MSBuild equivalent.  I asked if anyone had tried TeamCity, which they had, but without much success (much like my own experience).

Installers were next on the agenda - I'm a big supporter of WiX, though the feeling from  some of the guys at Intergen (and I think many people out in the wild) is that getting a WiX installer off the ground was a cumbersome experience, but on the flip side the "setup" project isn't as friendly when it comes to continuous  integration or support concurrent development (merging setup projects, ugh!) - I expressed my views on the fact that WiX is a hell of a lot easier to maintain once it's in place (i.e. figuring out changes other developers have made), and that making use of tools like Heat that come with WiX can accelerate your development effort quite a lot - Once you have a couple of reference projects with WiX installers it's very easy to rinse and repeat for new projects, or perhaps keep a library of wix templates on a wiki ;o)

Source control cropped up - I use Subversion - From what was mentioned Intergen are using Team System, though TFS does plenty of things SVN does not (Merge history and light-weight labeling appeal to me) - the lack of a good "off line" story still annoyed everyone at the table - maybe once SVN Bridge is half way stable, this won't be such a problem..?

That lead into issue tracking and bug management - where I generally use Trac, though for some clients I'm migrating to Jira (Trac comes across as "to simple" to clients for some reason, especially to dedicated testers, but I'm still a little puzzled as to why, perhaps they just don't get the "wiki" side of things?)

Mingle also came up in conversation - which is a product I'd never taken a look at - after a quick look around the site it looks pretty cool, especially with the source control aspect, I will definitely need to explore it further, though even something with about 80% of its  features as a Trac plug-in would suite my needs ... any readers out there using mingle who can offer an opinion?

I also brought up the news of the  framework code being made available - I'm not really sure it registered, or perhaps there just wasn't a need (we've all got so used to using reflector) ... though at the moment I'd rather have the SharePoint source code then the framework (especially considering parts of the sharepoint framework are obfuscated).

Hopefully next week we'll be back on track for next Thursday with a few of the regulars, or if Thursday is turning into a "bad day" for everyone then perhaps we need to mix it up a little.

See you all there!

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Architecture Chat 17 Tomorrow...

Just a quick announcement.

The Architecture chat is tomorrow, 11:30am at the usual spot... some possible topics for discussion.

  • AOP - Who's doing it day to day, and what tools are available out there for it, partly sparked by my belated look at PostSharp.
  • Sharepoint - yes I'm still on it, and unlike Peter Jones I'm still not loving it all that much (though I don't have the luxuary of MOSS and it's additional features).
  • MonoDevelop is finally in beta - Mono is looking more and more attractive as an alternative, but I'm still unsure I could survive without resharper.
  • Windows 2008 RC is out & Vista SP1 (for select people) - anyone played with them yet?

If anyone else has any topic suggestions then let me know, otherwise it'll just be an open discussion - much like every other time :)

See you there!

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PostSharp 1.0 - First Impressions

Ok so I must've been sleeping under a rock or something, so this is no doubt old news to many people - but PostSharp completely slipped by without me noticing it until now... Having played with it tonight, I'm definitely liking it :)

So far I've just used it for doing some AOP... unlike doing AOP using something like Dynamic Proxy / AspectSharp in Castle, PostSharp gives you a more... personal experience... letting you apply AOP to internal or sealed types, and allowing you to declaratively setup aspects with very little effort... as an example I created a simple little class for recording and playing back methods out of sync... so, first off I have a recorder interface:

public interface IRecorder
bool IsPlayback { get; }
void RecordMethod(MethodInfo method, object[] parameters);

Following that I implemented a base class for recording the methods, and allowing for playback:

public class BaseRecorder : IRecorder {
private readonly List
_methods = new List();
private bool _isPlayback;

#region IRecorder Members

public void RecordMethod(MethodInfo method, object[] parameters)
_methods.Add(new RecordedMethod(method, parameters));

public bool IsPlayback
get { return _isPlayback; }


public void Playback()
try {
_isPlayback = true;
foreach (RecordedMethod method in _methods) method.Replay(this);
} finally {
_isPlayback = false;

#region Nested type: RecordedMethod

public class RecordedMethod {
private readonly MethodInfo _method;
private readonly object[] _parameters;

public RecordedMethod(MethodInfo method, object[] parameters)
_method = method; _parameters = parameters;

public void Replay(object instance)
_method.Invoke(instance, _parameters);


Pretty basic - then I wrote myself the aspect - it really could not be simpler:

public class MethodRecordAttribute : OnMethodInvocationAspect
public override void OnInvocation(MethodInvocationEventArgs eventArgs)
IRecorder recorder = (IRecorder) eventArgs.Delegate.Target;
object[] arguments = eventArgs.GetArguments();
if (recorder.IsPlayback) eventArgs.Delegate.DynamicInvoke(arguments);
else recorder.RecordMethod(eventArgs.Delegate.Method, arguments);

And finally a demo... so I create a recorder class of my very own and decorate it with the attribute created above:

public class MyRecorder : BaseRecorder
public void SayHiTo(string name)
Console.WriteLine("Hi {0}", name);

public void AddSomeNumbers(int x, int y)
Console.WriteLine("{0} + {1} = {2}", x, y, x + y);

And now a quick demo:

public sealed class TryOutPostSharp
public void RecordAndPlayback()
MyRecorder recorder = new MyRecorder();
Console.WriteLine("Starting to record");
recorder.SayHiTo("Blog subscribers");
recorder.AddSomeNumbers(10, 20);
Console.WriteLine("Starting to replay");
Console.WriteLine("All done");

The output is:

Starting to record
Starting to replay
Hi  Alex
Hi  Renee
Hi  Blog subscribers
10 + 20 = 30
All done

Which I think is pretty darn sweet, I can definitely see this having a place in my toolbox in the near future - especially when attempting to uphold DRY in some of my code - anyone using it on production projects in NZ at the moment?

So how does PostSharp pull it off?  Well it post-processes the compiled assembly... it does so by hooking in to an existing extension point in msbuild, so that the post-processor is executed for any project where it references the PostSharp.Public assembly.

All this means that you get to see a couple of extra lines in the build output during compilation:

Compile complete -- 0 errors, 0 warnings
PostSharp 1.0 [] - Copyright (c) Gael Fraiteur and
Community, 2005-2007.
TryPostSharp ->

========== Rebuild All: 1 succeeded, 0 failed, 0 skipped ==========

But how does it really work? Well if we take a look at the list of 7 approaches to AOP Ayende did ... then it fits into the last two (Compile-time & Run-time IL Weaving).

If you have been living under a rock like myself I'd definitely suggest talking 10 minutes out of your day to give it a quick try.

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Architecture Chat 16

Quite a good turnout, with well over a table full (I didn't take an official count, but I'm guessing around 12 or more) including Alex James and Keith (who we hadn't seen for a while) and two newcomers from Olympic Software, which was great - we always like to see fresh faces and ideas.

I talked very briefly about Castle Project RC3 - I suggested it was a week or two away from getting out the door, but in fact - It's out as of about an hour ago! (11:30am) - the website and documentation is still in the process of being updated, but the installer and binaries/source are all here.

I was going to run through some of the changes I like in RC3 - but the conversation got steered away before I got warmed up - but it's well worth checking out, if you haven't been keeping an eye on the trunk and the changes that have been going in.

At any rate - this is the culmination of a huge amount of work from many of the Castle contributors, I think it even has a 2 line patch of my own in there somewhere :P ... great work guys!

- talked about PLINQ getting closer, and the fact that parallelization is a very hot topic of late, with a few noting that the last MSDN mag was almost entirely focused on this subject.

On a tangent, Erlang cropped, not too many of us have had exposure to the language details, but Keith had done some spelunking and gave us a quick rundown of how it all hangs together, definitely something to keep an eye on - Andrew Peter's even called
it his "Language of the year".

I brought up the MediaDefender debacle that's been unravelling over the last
week or so since their huge mail leak.  Not only are the inner workings of this organisation pretty unprofessional and certainly bordering on unethical for a corporation, but it highlights the risk most organisations run - the source of the leak being one employee who automatically forwarded all his work email to a gmail account, who then used the exact same credentials elsewhere.

Keith gave us some insight into LUA, including why it doesn't make an attractive language to port to .Net, and why it's so much easier to embed in a C++ based project as opposed to something like Ruby, which just seem to be designed for that purpose, especially with it's "out of the box" set of global variables.

I asked the question "What web load testing apps do you use" - and the answer was generally, we don't!... I've been reviewing WebLOAD - which looks quite good, especially because the load machines can be deployed on a non Microsoft machine, such as Linux, making it easier to span a number of load machines out on something like Amazons elastic cloud (EC2), or low-cost machines without the hassle of O/S licensing.

We then moved onto talking about high-scale load testing, i.e. simulating a million simultaneous requests - somebody suggested that maybe you could hire whoever's pulling the strings on the Storm BotNet - though I'm not sure they're into self-promotion ;o)

We talked about social networking applications, and leveraging social networking platforms with API's such as face book, this has been a popular topic over the last couple of months, including:

  • Finding the killer app(s) that could leverage an API like face book's, and making money out of it.
  • Bad habits encouraged by these platforms, such as requesting your email account username and password to "email your friends".

Alex James brought up the great series of posts that Rowan Simpson has been making lately - not everyone knew who Rowan was... so hopefully they should know now ;o) the posts walk through, the Trade me manifesto, and then drills into:
Over lunch we talked about many things, mostly non-IT related, but some things that did come up, including that the Mac OS isn't going to have a NZ Daylight savings time update before Daylight savings actually kicks in, though it's not really a problem.

Some things that got mentioned which I didn't quite catch the details of:

  • Metabase (I'm not sure I got the name right - couldn't find a link, but apparently it's a game / game development platform, in alpha development at the moment, where all game assets have an associated URL, and maybe an RSS Feed??) - Alex James suggested it might be interesting to combine something like that with a web based data storage platform, such as freebase, developed by Metaweb Tech.
  • Jason K (Knowles?) - who apparently supports the Idea of every user having there own domain, to cement their various web identities together, and where all their data is held by them in one place. - can anyone throw me the correct name and url?

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