ALT.NET 2011 Day #1

Today kicked off with an early morning and a great workshop with Glenn Block (@gblock). The team he is working with has some great things coming for HTTP + REST + WCF that will really alleviate a lot of problems with WCF. In addition to that I’d bet that it will give Microsoft a chance to get back into the web API market.

That brings me to another topic that has come up a lot lately. Anyone that is in the startup scene or web development scene knows that Ruby on Rails has made an absolutely massive impact. I’m talking an impact like the invasion of Normandy! Microsoft has made many shifts to counter the ease, simplicity, and elegance of Ruby on Rails with things like ASP.NET MVC. Overall, the efforts have done a good job and been well received by .NET Developers in general.

However Microsoft has done a horrible job of getting aligned with the Internet startup space when it comes to web APIs. If you’re not sure what I mean, check out Twitter, Facebook, Apigee, and dozens of others. These are all companies that provide web APIs. Another notable one that has had some very money related impact, is the Best Buy API. Allowing people to hook into the API to really turn some revenue and make money. These APIs are almost always non-Microsoft stack technologies. When they are Microsoft, it is usually a hack around ASP.NET MVC or something of that sort to enable a more RESTful type API. With these additions to WCF this puts Microsoft back on some solid footing to compete in this space. I’m really looking forward to being able to pay around with these capabilities of WCF more – and hopefully sooner than later!

The second session of the day was a kind of modern anthropological study of development groups, their culture, and how processes, tools, and team qualities interplay among people. We ended up splitting into 3 (or was it 4) groups and went about various exercises.

I’m not sure the exact conclusions we came to during this session, but it was fun just to discuss each of our development groups. Ranging from topics of how we are forced to use Waterfall (and those clients often end up paying absurd amounts of money for things that should cost them less), how “pairing programming doesn’t exist” which gave us programmers that pair frequently a good laugh, and a whole host of other topics.

All in all, day one has started off great. I’m really stoked to be attending these workshops this year. Last year I was hard at work at… some client related debacle of crazy proportions, frantically looking forward to the weekend when the conference would start in earnest. But this year the team I work with are hittin’ the workshops early and doing the ALT.NET Conference completely.

Tomorrow is a session on AppHarbor, also known as Azure done right, and an xUnit Workshop by Brad Wilson that I’ll be attending. I’m already excited I’m not sure I’ll sleep. Until then, cheers.