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Veni, vedi, codi… We came, we saw, we coded. The second Calgary Code Camp has come and gone. We had just over 100 attendees show up at our doors on Saturday. I would like to offer a big thanks to:

  • Our sponsors who donated $20,000 worth of prizes as well as enough money to rent the facilities and A/V equipment.
  • Our speakers for generously giving up their time and many for travelling long distances to share their knowledge with everyone.
  • Our organizing committee – Terry, Jean-Paul, Bil, and John – for helping to make this event possible.
  • Everyone who attended because without you, there would have been no code camp!

For a visual retrospective, check out Bil’s blog (and Flickr set) for some great photos. I would have to agree with Bil and John – their dual LCD projector setup to show a laptop debugging a game on the XBox 360 was just damn sexy.

Thanks again, everyone, and see you next year!

The Calgary Code Camp is this Saturday! If you haven’t already registered, head over to the site and do so. (If you are reading this after April 28, 2007, you missed it.) Here are some stats for the curious:

Number of tracks: 3
Number of speakers: 13
Number of sponsors: 14
Number of sessions: 15
Number of prizes: Over 60
Value of prizes: Approximately $20,000 CAD
Being there: Priceless

Last year the delegates from Edmonton walked away with a disproportionate number of prizes. This year we’ve worked with our sponsors to thwart the Edmonton contingent by bringing in more prizes than the Edmontonians can carry home. Let me say that our sponsors have been awesome. We’ve got over 60 door prizes worth around $20,000 CAD. Prizes include component packages from Dundas, ComponentArt, and Nevron; books from Addison-Wesley and Apress; a free registration to DevTeach Montreal 2007; copies of JetBrains .NET Productivity Pack; and lots of hardware. There is even rumour of an XBox 360 among the loot.

All the sponsors have been very supportive, but I want to say that JetBrains has gone above and beyond the call of duty. The JetBrains .NET Productivity Pack includes both ReSharper and dotTrace and retails for $600 USD. One in twenty attendees will walk away with this prize! That’s right. You’ve got a 1 in 20 chance of taking home two of the best .NET tools on the market. Awesome!

Thanks go to all the sponsors for their support and I hope to see you at the Calgary Code Camp on Saturday!

I would like to thank everyone who voted for my TechEd 2007 Bird of a Feather (BoF) session. The votes have been tallied and my session has been accepted. So I will be leading a lively discussion on:

Creating Flexible Software: TDD, Mocking, and Dependency Injection

There has been much discussion of agile development techniques, but what do they really mean? How can they help you develop better software that is more flexible in the face of change? What does it mean for software to be flexible? This Birds of a Feather session will promote a lively discussion of how to be successful in creating software that is resilient in the face of ever-changing business requirements.

Just like Spring, it seems that Agile is in the air as Jeffrey Palermo had his two agile BoFs accepted too. Congratulations, Jeffrey! I’m looking forward to Partying with Palermo at TechEd 2007 (and attending his BoFs).

What can I say? I love ReSharper. I bought a copy with my own hard-earned cash because it made my life as a developer easier. TDD development without ReSharper is like GUI development in notepad. It can be done, but it ain’t pretty.

The JetBrains team, the folks behind ReSharper, is also incredibly helpful and open. When I was developing the VstsUnit Plugin for ReSharper, Oleg Stepanov – JetBrains’ Head .NET Project Manager – was kind enough to answer my questions about some integration challenges I was experiencing. His assistance saved me days of head-scratching, trying to figure out what exactly was going on.

So it’s pay-back time.  JetBrains is looking for feedback on ReSharper to help drive the product’s direction. How can JetBrains make ReSharper even better than it already is? Is there a killer feature you’d love them to implement? Thinking of buying ReSharper, but it’s missing your must-have feature? Take a few minutes and fill out their survey.

If you’re not a ReSharper user and are wondering what all of us TDDers are blithering about, come to the Calgary Code Camp on Saturday, April 28, 2007 and you’ll not only see ReSharper in action,* you could win a free copy! JetBrains is one of our sponsors and has graciously donated copies of their .NET Productivity Pack, which includes ReSharper and dotTrace**, as door prizes. You could be one of the lucky few to walk away with these great products.

* All the speakers in the Agile track are avid ReSharper users. So you’ll get a chance to see fingers and code flying. True art is watching Jean-Paul Boodhoo at the keyboard with ReSharper. He is THE master.

** dotTrace is a performance and memory profiling tool. I’ve tried out many of the major profiling tools on the market and dotTrace is definitely the easiest to use and has consistently provided great results. Straightforward answers with a minimum of fuss. Highly recommended.

The second annual Calgary Code Camp will be happening on Saturday, April 28, 2007. In case you weren’t there last year, you might be wondering, “What is a Code Camp?” Simply put, a Code Camp is a developer event by and for the developer community. You get a full day of developer-focused content created by fellow developers, not marketing wonks. You’ll see code, code, and more code. The sessions will cover a wide variety of topics, including current Microsoft technologies (ASP.NET, AJAX, Windows Forms, WPF, WCF, WF) as well as upcoming technologies (LINQ, WPF/e). We will also be looking for presentations on TDD, NHibernate, Castle Windsor, MonoRail, Spring.NET, and more.

The price for the event is the same as last year – COMPLETELY FREE! A full day of code and fun with cool door prizes for absolutely nothing. We’ll be posting speakers and sessions on the website as they’re confirmed. Drop by the Calgary Code Camp Website and sign-up. See you there!!!

Call for Speakers!

If you would like to speak at the event, please send a brief description of yourself and your topic to Deadline is April 7, 2007.

Call for Sponsors!

If you are interested in sponsoring the Calgary Code Camp, please contact me at

The TechEd 2007 Birds of a Feather (BOF) voting is now online. Go vote for your favourite sessions. Might I humbly suggest that you consider placing a vote for my BOF:

Creating Flexible Software: TDD, Mocking, and Dependency Injection

There has been much discussion of agile development techniques, but what do they really mean? How can they help you develop better software that is more flexible in the face of change? What does it mean for software to be flexible? This Birds of a Feather session will promote a lively discussion of how to be successful in creating software that is resilient in the face of ever-changing business requirements.

So TechEd 2006 has wrapped up. I haven’t blogged as much as I had originally planned, but that’s because I’ve been busy attending sessions and talking to cool people. It’s been a pleasure and an honour to talk to some of the biggest names in the industry. (No, I didn’t get a chance to talk to Mr. Gates or Mr. Ozzie. Maybe next time.) :^) Being in Boston again has been a blast, but I’m looking forward to heading home to Calgary. Coming with me is a bag o’ swag, much of which you can see pictured below. (After snapping the pics, I noticed another pile that I’d forgotten to include.)

Of particular note is the Office System “chalk duster” – behind the action figures. It’s actually a T-shirt. I’m told the wrinkles iron out easily. You can also see the Source Fource action figures, a SQL Server magic 8-ball, loads of flashlights, magazines, and book samples. I got the backpack for trying out Windows Vista and won Halo 2 at the booth. (Now I just need an XBox to play it on.) Of special note, Compuware – the makers of some truly awesome developer tools – allowed attendees to spin a wheel for the chance to win a USB key! I won the chapstick with the freaky-looking purple hair – you can see it to the left of the Source Fource. Definitely the lamest prize I saw at the show. I also managed to replace my entire wardrobe with the number of free T-shirts I received.

I did snap a few amusing pictures while at the show. I think the “InfoCard” team really liked the name change to “Cardspace”.

And is Business Objects trying to make a statement about the ease of use of their Crystal Reports product?

Overall I had a blast at TechEd 2006 in Boston. TechEd 2007 will be in New Orleans again. Hopefully I’ll be there!!!

It’s been an exciting past two days. Unfortunately FireFox ate my Day 2 report. So I’ll have to resummarize it. (I’ve downloaded BlogJet, which is a well-respected offline blogging package, to craft up this blog post and prevent a repeat performance of yesterday.) I saw some great talks and the highlights from Day 2 included:

  • Live from Tech-Ed: .NET Rocks! Show by Carl Franklin and Richard Campbell, hosts of .NET Rocks, where they talked to two members of the team building Visual Studio Team System for Database Professionals. This new SKU of VSTS brings refactoring, unit testing (written in T-SQL), test data generation, schema diffing, and source control to database gurus. We don’t get any nice design surfaces for modelling or the ability to design logical model and then build physical model. Those are features they’re thinking about for vNext along with supporting databases other than SQL Server. The team’s dev cycle is only 9 months and they plan to ship by the end of the year. Not bad for a major product release. This looks to be a promising SKU for the data-inclined.
  • Windows Communication Foundation: More Than Just SOAP by Steve Maine where he showed off some nifty tricks on making WCF produce RSS and ATOM feeds. Very neat stuff. He talked about the extensibility of the WCF pipeline. Steve is a smart guy and it was neat to see some of the crazy stuff you can do to extend WCF.
  • Windows Vista: Kernel Changes by Mark Russinovich and David Solomon where they talked about all the changes that are coming in the Windows Kernel, both for Vista and “Longhorn” Server. Deep stuff. These guys just make your head hurt, but in a good way. One neat change is that applications can reserve I/O bandwidth and boost themselves up to a “real-time” mode. This means that Windows Media Player 11 won’t stutter or drop clip when your virus scanner kicks in. The music/video will just keep on playing as if nothing happened. They also talked about User Account Protection (UAC), new synchronization primivitives in the OS, user-mode device drivers, and other nerdy stuff. I loved it! 
  • CLR: IronPython and .NET Scripting Languages by Mahesh Prakriya and John Lam (creator of RubyCLR) where they tried to convert us to dynamic language zealots. Dynamic languages are scripting languages on steroids. All the good things of scripting (easy development, flexibility, terse yet readable syntax) without the bad (read VBScript). RubyCLR is a bridge (like COM Interop) that allows Ruby to call into .NET and vice-versa. Ruby code still runs in the Ruby interpreter (irb.exe) and .NET code still runs inside the CLR. People are working on compiling Ruby to IL so that it can run directly in the CLR. Microsoft is even working at making the CLR friendlier for dynamic languages. I’m not going to be dropping C# anytime soon, but I might take John up on his offer of one hour to show me the zen of Ruby. If you’ve never tried Ruby, I would recommend taking TryRuby for a spin. Mahesh talked about IronPython, which is a super-fast Python implementation for .NET. IronPython actually compiles Python code to MSIL. Both guys gave a great talk, but John definitely stole the show (in a good way).

So here I sit in my hotel having just attended the keynote. Before I get to talking about the keynote, I noticed these signs all over the place on the way over:

You know that you’re at a big conference when the city puts up big signs all over the downtown welcoming you. Uh, thanks, Boston. Glad to be here.

So let’s talk about the keynote… Bob Muglia started things off. This year’s theme was “People-Ready Software”. Bob reiterated Steve Ballmer’s sentiments that the products (Vista, Longhorn Server, Exchange 2007, Office 2007, etc.) will ship when they are ready. They are on-target for the planned dates, but that could change based on feedback on the betas from a wider audience. (Steve Ballmer got everyone’s knickers in a knot when he made this comment a few weeks ago. Some analysts and journalists took this to mean that Vista is going to slip again rather than the real sentiment that they won’t knowingly ship a shoddy product.) With that, Bob introduced Ray Ozzie. (Rumour has it that Ray is being groomed to take over from Bill.) Overall I enjoyed hearing Ray Ozzie speak – definitely the best speaker of the keynote. People describe him as a visionary, which I think is accurate, though I was hoping for him to be more visionary. Much of what he said was common sense. Even if you don’t agree with everything he says, you can see that he has an idea of the future and how to get there. His track record speaks volumes as he was involved in Visi-calc, Lotus 1-2-3, Lotus Notes, and Groove. (Microsoft bought Ray Ozzie and got a nice product called Groove thrown in for free.) To further fuel the rumour that Ray is taking over for Bill is that Bill was neither seen nor mentioned.

So what did Ray talk about? He forsees a new era of disruption, much like the disruption caused by the PC, the LAN, the internet, and P2P networks. He dismissed other companies’ (read Google) notions that the next big event will be completely web-based AJAX-enabled applications. Yes, you can do amazing things on the web and Microsoft will help developers build those next generation web applications, but more important is applications with architectural flexibility, for which he used Groove as an example. (Big surpirse.) The next generation of software will be enabled to connect peer-to-peer or client-server, depending on whether you’re inside or outside your corporate firewall. Applications will be centrally managed whether they’re connecting P2P or client-server. So if you have a number of employees away from head-office, they can create an ad-hoc network for sharing ideas and information and then sync up once they are back. He also talked about the work that Microsoft is doing with respect to federating corporate Active Directory with Windows Live Identity. This will allow your corporate identity to be used in trust relationships with partners. The basic idea of federation is one corporate identity that can be used with trading partners. So if someone from ABC Inc. buys widgets from XYZ Corporation and she needs to log into the XYZ order fulfilment site, federation would allow XYZ Corporation to assign access permissions based on her ABC login rather than having to issue her a XYZ user account. Very cool stuff. He talked about managing personal devices via group policy. People bring personal cell phones, laptops, and memory sticks to work because they find them useful. Rather than forbidding all personal devices, the plan is to establish acceptable use policies using group policy. Lastly he talked about “The Services Disruption” – Enterprise Services and Internet Services melding together. Blended internet/intranet search. The idea of “Client, Server, and Service”. Dynamic and charismatic speaker. I can see why everyone thinks he’ll take over from Bill. So that was The Good.

Bob comes back and introduces the idea of the “4 Promises” that Microsoft is making to its customers and partners. He introduces Mary Lynn Rajskub, who plays Chloe on the show “24″ opposite Kiefer Sutherland. (I’ve never actually watched “24″. So no comments on the show.) This is a lead-up to the first of a 4-part series called “4″, which parodies “24″, and stars much of the Microsoft brass (minus Bill again) as the server room interns. We see the 4 parts in installments throughout the 2-1/2 hour keynote. Some are vaguely amusing, but overall rather silly. The outtakes at the end are the best part showing the Microsoft brass goofing around. Chloe also visits us repeatedly throughout the keynote delivering lame lines read verbatim from a ticker. Her performance was painful. I could almost hear her thinking “what has my agent gotten me into”. That was The Bad. So rather than dwell on that any more, let’s look at the 4 promises:

  1. Manage Complexity, Achieve Agility
  2. Protect Information, Control Access
  3. Advance the Business with IT Solutions
  4. Amplify the Impact of Your People

I won’t recount each of the promises, but here are some outtakes from each one.

Promise #1: Manage Complexity, Achieve Agility

  • 3 different types of virtualization, each with its own benefits and drawbacks
    • Hardware virtualization – Where we are today
    • OS Services virtualization – furthest out – past Longhorn – very important in hosting situations
    • Application virtualization – Microsoft acquired Softricity to enable this scenario – incompatible applications running side-by-side in the same OS – for instance different versions of Office
  • Demo of Windows Server Virtualization, which will ship with Longhorn Server
    • Can allocate more than 3.6 GB of memory to a guest OS with >32 GB possible
    • Guest OSs can be assigned up to up to 8 CPUs – currently Virtual Server supports 1 or 2
    • You can dynamically change the amount of memory allocated to a guest OS without re-starting the guest! Very cool!
    • Hot adding of disk space, CPUs, and NICs is also possible.
    • 64-bit guest OS support!

Promise #2 – Protect Information, Control Access

  • Microsoft Forefront Client Security announced
  • Antigen (for Exchange, SharePoint, etc.) can use up to 9 AV engines for enhanced protection

Promise #3 – Advance the Business with IT Solutions

  • Demo of Visual Studio Team System for DB Pros
    • Refactoring support in the database
    • Unit testing in the database written in T-SQL
  • Demo of Expression Interactive Designer for use by graphic artists
    • File format is XAML
    • Programmer can use the same file in Visual Studio and implement code-behind much like ASP.NET, but for a graphically rich application

Promise #4 -Amplify the Impact of Your People

  • Product launches announced
    • Office Enterprise 2007 – October 2006
    • SPS 2007 – October 2006 – intranet, internet, extranet, enterprise search
    • Exchange 2007 – Beta 2 in July – email, calendar, & unified messaging server
    • Live Communications Server “12″ – Available in 2007 – real-time communication – IM and video calls
  • Office SharePoint Server will allow you to create wikis and blogs

It was an interesting keynote, but no huge revelations. Much of what was announced had been discussed previously. We did get to see some cool demos. You may be wondering what the ugly was from my list. In my notes I have written, “Chloe is back to wrap up show – please kill me”. Still it promises to be a fun TechEd.

So Bil, fellow dwarf plumber, and I are off to TechEd 2006 in Boston, the city of Duck Boats, marathons, and poor drainage. 47 institutions of higher learning in one city – everything from Harvard to MIT to Boston College. Enough concentrated brain power to do some serious synaptic damage. The Big Dig is still underway – it was years over schedule when I lived in Boston in the mid- to late 90′s… and you thought developers had problems estimating accurately! I lived in Boston for 5 years and it will be good to see the city again as well as a few friends. We’re sitting in Minneapolis airport wasting 4 hours between flights. Bil is busy exercising his thumbs (read playing PSP). I’m busily working on some code for a top-secret project (and thinking that I’d rather be playing PSP). We’re both taking a break to blog about our roadtrip, but decide to post later since we’re both to cheap to shell out the $7.95 USD for wireless access. Bil’s got some cool pics on his blog, including lotto ticket vending machines. As my contribution, I give you the $5 cell phone charging machine and an automatic defibrillator for when you get bored waiting for your flight.

A week of geeking out is ahead of us. We’re both tricked out with more toys than Inspector Gadget and hoping for more swag once we get there. This should be a blast!