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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Architecture Chat 16 Tomorrow


Another architecture chat tomorrow, 11:30am at the usual spot... some possible topics for discussion.

  • Row vs Column database storage, is Column based storage important?
  • Dead Skills - What skills are on the way out / way in for Developers, DBA & Architects?
  • Castle Project RC3 will be out shortly, I'll let you know whats going on.
  • I've been watching quite a few TED presentations over the last month or so - and it leads me to wonder, what sources of Inspiration do people tap into for their own Software Creation?
  • PLINQ update - it's getting closer!
  • I thought this was interesting - a new way to detect code theft, though how many of us in NZ actually fear code theft at the moment?

Light on topics, but still there's plenty of things to fuel debate - look forward to seeing you all there.  If anyone has anything else they would like to talk about it (or raised for debate, if you can't make it along) then just leave me a comment or flick me an email.

btw - Not sure if Alex James will be making it along to this one, but if he does, it will certainly be his last before leaving NZ for the U.S of A.

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Architecture Chat 15

Architecture Chat

So we had a reasonable turnout today, with 9 people.

First up for discussion was the move from Microsoft to assist with the development of Moonlight - which is making silver light an even more compelling proposition then it was before...

There was a brief talk about WPF component suites ... some of the more win forms focused of the group are looking for an easier migration path from Winforms to WPF lead by a full featured control suite...  A few of us observed that Telerik are planning to release a WPF suite of controls later on this year, and of course they already have RadControls
for Silverlight
available now.  DevExpress are also planning to release WPF controls "some time" this year, though not much information is available on just what makes up a "control suite" for WPF, considering the power provided just through the great data binding experience, simple controls like lists and the native 3D support.

Following that we had a rather rambling conversation sparked off by Alex J buying an iMac for his mum, and my desire for an entirely modal windows experience for my grandmother - or at least something that stopped windows from being able to completely occlude each other (which can cause all sorts of confusion when people associate a window "disappearing" with an action having taken place, like an email being sent).

Peter mentioned a project (which I didn't quite catch the name of) which creates a "modal" almost terminal-like experience for windows, which sounds like it could be interesting... I'm thinking perhaps I need to write myself a entirely modal shell for windows... maybe a task for a full-screen WPF app ;o)

That lead on to a conversation about undo and document change tracking, concluding in a few thoughts - we covered a random assortment of topics including MOSS 2007, WebDav and the poor uptake/usage of shadow copy some of the "thoughts" included:

  • New versions of documents shouldn't be able to overwrite old documents, period, bake in at the OS level.
  • There needs to be a change to the usability of undo/redo so that you can move backwards and forwards through change history using a slider or some kind of similar time line experience.
  • Previous text can be copied and then the slider dragged back to the "current state" to paste (With no way of interacting with the previous state, to avoid accidentally loosing the current state).

After that we branched out into talking about Load balancing, Amazon E2 i.e. the Elastic cloud, Peter hadn't heard about  Grasshopper but seemed pretty excited by the thought of converting .Net applications to run on J2EE (and as such, commodity hardware) - though Gareth mentioned it wasn't all that cheap, so you probably need to avoid having to pay a few windows server licenses to balance to books.

Data Layer Componentization and the concept of a DataServer also got a mention, a long with some discussion around the lack of an off the shelf product which solves some of the "tough" problems with implementing highly scalable and distributed data platforms ah la things like BigTable and similar map-reduce style data storage concepts.  I wonder if Pile can offer us anything in this space as well?

Last of all Alex J briefly asked about mixed-mode authentication for IIS - as it happens Ayende recently posted about this, with the gritty details of getting it to work.

And I think that's about enough from me... also don't forgot we have 2 user groups next week (Tuesday in Ellerslie, Wednesday in Auckland Central), details are below.

Next Week : User Group Meetings


A lap around Visual Studio 2008 & A lap around C# 3.0

11/09/2007 (Tuesday) Gathering at 5:45, starting at 6:00

A lap around Visual Studio 2008
Presented by Darryl Burling
Explore all the new Visual Studio 2008 features, from language enhancements; improved designers; Web and smart-client development tools; to Visual Studio Team System, a suite of software life cycle management tools poised to transform how you deliver software for Windows Vista, the 2007 Microsoft Office system, and the Web.

A lap around C# 3.0
Presented by Alex James Explore quickly the new features of C# 3.0, including things like LINQ, Lambda Expressions, Anonymous Types etc.

Catering: Pizza & Drinks
Door Charge: Free
Parking: Free, just park in Olympic Software's car park.


Olympic Software
10 Cawley St

Map To Venue

Auckland CBD

A lap around Visual Studio 2008

12/09/2007 (Wednesday) Gathering at 5:45, starting at 6:00

A lap around Visual Studio 2008
Presented by Darryl Burling
Explore all the new Visual Studio 2008 features, from language enhancements; improved designers; Web and smart-client development tools; to Visual Studio Team System, a suite of software life cycle management tools poised to transform how you deliver software for Windows Vista, the 2007 Microsoft Office system, and the Web.

Catering: Pizza & Drinks
Door Charge: Free


Level 5,
22 Viaduct Harbour Avenue,

Map To Venue

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2007-09-05 - Architecture Chat Tomorrow

Hi All,

Another architecture chat tomorrow, 11:30am at the usual spot... some possible topics for discussion.

  • Data Layer Componentization.
  • OOXML - the "no with comments" response - anybody bother finding out what the comments were?
  • Google wiki.
  • IronPython, IronRuby... now IronLisp.
  • The so called "Digestion Phase" for technoloy.
  • Mono Olive - WF, WCF, System.Query/Linq, Xaml support (no WPF as such).

If anyone has any other ideas for discussion, just leave a comment on my blog... or just pop along tomorrow.
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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.

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