ALT.NET Open Spaces Recap

For those who missed it, a gaggle of geeks caught up in Melbourne on Saturday 3rd December to talk about stuff. Geeks talking - who'da thunk it? Anyway, this is my recap...

I flew down to Melbourne this weekend to catch up with the locals and talk about various topics around the .NET space. Here's the abridged recap - each session was scheduled for about 30 minutes and we (mostly) stuck to the schedule during the day.

Disclaimer: I was sleep deprived and recovering from a party the night before. I may be recalling things differently to how they actually happened. Hell, I'm fairly certain I have the sessions listed out of order.

There's supposed to be a photo here, but the only one I found (that's right, I didn't bother to take photos myself) was on lockerz.com, which seems to be a site that wants your Facebook details in exchange for something called "grab it". I'm not even going to link to it, that's how disappointed I am...

User Groups

We started off the day with a discussion on how everyone perceived the user groups they attend - what works, how to grow a user group, discussions and war stories and whatnot. A lot of good ideas came out of this, which will hopefully materialies in the new year.

We had tacked on a session for talking about open source, but that seemed to have fallen through the cracks when the discussion for user groups went on longer than expected. Sadface.

Code Dojo

As a follow up of the ALT.NET code dojo recently, the group discussed this kata and how to solve the problem. Unfortunately things got sidetracked (I was most annoyed I hadn't heard about this 'trigram' concept before) and we didn't get to demonstrate a good TDD design before the session expired. But it was still an entertaining discussion on how to tackle a problem, even if we didn't agree on much.

New Frontiers

After a quick break, we discussed how languages outside the .NET ecosystem have impacted on .NET and what might be coming down the pipe. A few takeaways from the discussion - some people wanted more concepts to be brought into C#, while others were feeling that the "one language to rule them all" didn't feel right.

Refactoring

I teamed up with Richard to talk about refactoring existing code, R# tips and tricks, and Richard shouting at me to "no no, go down, not up" when navigating some sample code from ages ago. Was fun.

RAD Frameworks

And here's where things got entertaining. What started out as a discussion of tools and libraries to simplify building apps.

First things first: as soon as 'RAD' was mentioned, it was a red rag to much of the audience. It wasn't the intent, but all attempts to refocus the discussion failed miserably.

Secondly: I was fascinated by the number of people who were anti-third party libraries for their UIs. They preferred to roll their own, but I didn't push the discussion into why. Perhaps this is my background in client apps clouding my perceptions...

Lastly: data access. Oh man, I'm sick to death of this discussion. There's so many choices that whenever someone asks why I'm not using XYZ I have to physically force myself to listen. Can we move on as a society?

"What if this is as good as it gets?"

This was a neat discussion about how someone might go about staying in a technical career with software development and avoid the whole "management" position in the hierarchy. Of course, he was currently doing Sharepoint, so that was noted and made fun of.

A few dedicated souls continued on this thread of discussion at the pub after and came to a concensus that there was a correlation between architect-style roles and a conservative approach to new technologies. We had a number of ideas around how to bridge this gap, but its always been a tricky challenge in my experiences when working with clients.

Code Coverage and Analysis

Shaun discussed some of his work with code coverage tools and some gotchas with the code. This was the first time I'd heard of OpenCover (audible gasp), an OSS project he works on, and it was awesome to catch up with him after and have my brain melted by another IL junkie :)

Agile Discussion

This was the point where I ran out of steam - 4:30am starts will do that to a guy. We discussed how agile projects manage the relationships with stakeholders, scene missing and something about estimation?

Anyway, as we wrapped up at about 3ish a few of the group headed to the pub up the road for further discussion. I'd worked in Melbourne last year, so it was great to catch up with the locals again and talk shop.

Wrapup

Big thanks to @pjimmy for organising the event and to Richard for helping with herding cats in the morning. It was a great event, and hopefully it'll be back bigger and better next year - there's rumours abound about a Sydney event next year.

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