Yesterday I attended DDD8a at Microsoft UK, Reading. DDD events are .net events organised by a group of members of the .net community touted as “by developers for developers” and this certainly holds true. This was the first ddd event I have attended but will certainly try to attend more in the future.
The following is a brief rundown of the talks I attended and my thoughts on them.
Chris presented the process for creating a simple twitter client application for Windows Phone 7, he then went on to demonstrate the same process for creating a similar app for iPhone using MonoTouch and then again for Android using MonoDroid. WP7 development was very impressive, using a familiar development paradigm is very appealling and what I’ve seen of the OS so far looks impressive.
Next was MonoTouch, I’m a little undecided about this, I thought what has been acheived with MonoTouch (iPhone development in C#) however it’s still Mac only and as there is no abstraction you still need to familiarise with the iPhone platform specifics which makes it seem like it might just be worth doing full blown native iPhone dev especially considering there’s a fairly significant file size impact on any MonoTouch apps. That said however, give me C# over objective c any day, will definitely look at it more, especially as I won one of Chris’s books so a good excuse. Finally MonoDroid was demonstrated, it’s early days at the moment and is currently in a private preview state but shows promise. MonoDroid is going to be available for Visual Studio (windows) and MonoDevelop (mac). Again, I’m not convinced about shoe-horning c# when java is quite similar anyway but there is an obvious appeal to being able to use a consistent technology stack and catering for all three major platforms.
I don’t think for any one platform these tools can rival native development, but for targetting all three I defienitely think there is significant benefit and the ability to leverage existing skills is a big win. Chris provided a good amount of information in an hour about the very relevant field of mobile development.
Seb was a very good speaker, very entertaining in a kind of French Basil Fawlty fashion with “hints” of bitterness about more enterprise backed projects of a similar ilk. Bitterness aside, OpenWrap looks like something the .net community has been needing for a long time. It also goes way beyond simply package management offering facilities for publishing and updating your own packages amoungst a host of other features. There was a lot to go through and a few hiccups caused by some late night coding under the influence but overall a great demonstration.
NoSql is a subject I’ve been interested in since catching Neil Robbins’ presentation about it at NxtGen Southampton a few months ago. Gary gave a great flying tour of the background, options, uses and advantages of NoSQL databases. He addressed most of the questions I’d had and has convinced me further that NoSQL dbs are worth considering for projects. Gary had a very good insight into the world of nosql and has clearly done his homework.
Ian gave a run-through of the latest release of Silverlight, some key considerations and an overview of the popular MVVM approach. Ian re-affirmed how far Silverlight has come in a relatively short space of time and it has come a long way. Silverlight is now a very capable rich client platform and how offers the features and a great development environment. Ian also went through RIA services which I’m not really that sold on. It seems to me RIA Services encourages logic leaking between service and client layers.
Ian also touched on a point I feel is key for the further success of Sliverlight which is the lack of designers picking up Expression Blend, in Ian’s words “I know how to use Blend, I also know how to dress myself but it doesn’t mean I look good”. This is a point I was concerned about three years ago when first looking at Silverlight and its very disappointing that more hasn’t been done to get Blend into the hands of some really talented designers. A lot of Silverlight applications out there still look very… developer designed.
Databases is probably my least favoured aspect of software development, coupled with the fact UI is one of my preferred aspects it was very tempting to miss Simon’s talk about SQL Server and attend the session on WPF. However, as I’m often left to face SQL issues Simon’s was the sensible choice. Turned out to be a good choice as this turned out to be the most useful session of the day. Simon is extremely knowledgeable about SQL Server and clearly has a lot of experience. He isn’t a gung-ho DBA type trying to ensure everything gets managed at the database level and doesn’t think everything belongs in stored procedures and does have a very balanced view and understanding of the software developers role. The information he provided was invaluable hopefully he will publish his slides as they are a great source of simple steps to improve the performance and maintainability of your database. Check out his blog as he has posted some of the information there.
Overall it was an excellent event and Microsoft provided great facilities, the DDD team put on an extremely well organised event and there was a good buzz amongst the attendees.