Thor HAMMA! OS-X Cocoa UI for Cloud Foundry

So today we’re super excited to release Thor release candidate from the furnaces of the Iron Foundry. We’ve had number of people working not he project and core Objective-C Coder Benjamin van der Veen @bvanderveen (Twitter), @bvanderveen (Github) and site tearing through tests, implementation, refactoring and UI hacking non-stop these last few weeks. I’ll admit, I think he’s slept some, but nobody knows.

With this new release, the features around…  well…  check out the video.

For a more complete list of the features check out Github, Github Issues & the Iron Foundry Blog.

SITREP – Stoking Iron Foundry, Thor Hammering & Joining… ?

What have I been up to? Here’s a quick recap. You may want to get involved with some of these projects!

Iron Foundry & Tier 3 Web Fabric

Iron FoundryBack when I left the kick ass team at Russell Investments in Seattle I stepped directly to bat as team lead at Tier 3. My job, get a PaaS built on Cloud Foundry and extending that with Iron Foundry. It was an ambitious effort that would provide the most extensive framework and language support available from any PaaS Provider on the market.

Well, we did it, thanks to the capabilities of Cloud Foundry Community, the great minds of Jared Wray @jaredwray, Luke Bakken, Eric Lee @saintgimp, Cale Hoopes & the rest of the Tier 3 Team! I was able to add this to my list of successes. We had some bumps, some collisions, a brick wall or two and other scheduling problems – ya know, the standard things that happen on a project. But in spite of it all, we got the Web Fabric released – and it continues to be the only PaaS available with such a wide framework and language support. It ranges from Ruby on Rails, Erlang, Node.js & Java to .NET! If you’d like to check out the open source PaaS of Cloud Foundry & Iron Foundry both projects are always looking for participation & contributions!

Thor Brings the Hamma!

After the release of the Tier 3 Web Fabric I started the search for a wicked smart and capable OS-X / Cocoa Coder – it seems their availability is pretty limited these days! Well I finally lucked out and found Benjamin van der Veen (@bvanderveen, thanks for the intro Selena @selenamarie!) to help me get started on the Thor Projects. There’s the Cocoa Thor Project & the Windows 7 WPF Metro based Thor .NET Project that we’re wrapping up with v1 releases coming really soon. To check out more on these projects that I’ve lead & coded on check out the code bases & information, all linked on The projects are open source, so feel free to jump in and help out or fork & submit pull requests. The team will be happy to review & discuss ASAP.

While we’re wrapping these projects up right now, I’ll actually be continuing on and supporting the projects: Thor & Thor .NET. I will continue to be involved, as I was saying, in a number of ways in the PaaS space. So don’t think I’m disappearing form that realm!

Basho Sings my Song

I’ve been keeping track of Basho for a while now. Riak caught my interest many months ago as a really well built, well thought out & advanced distributed database. As you might guess, being into the whole “cloud computing” industry, I’m just ever so slightly interested in distributed systems. The other thing that I’m a huge fan of, which Basho does, is heavily support and involve itself in the open source software community and movement. The icing on the cake, was their diverse use of systems and language use around Erlang. All things that are massive wins.

Bailey's Taproom
Bailey’s Taproom

Well during a random conversation with Eric @coderoshi at Bailey’s Tap Room & then attending the RICON 2012 Conference (article here and pictures) I spoke to some of the team and found out they were looking for some particular skill sets. Well it just happened that I was keenly interested in meeting those skill set requirements! So December 1st I’ll be joining the Basho team full time as developer advocate, evangelist, messenger or such for the northwest working with a few people you may know such as Mark Phillips @pharkmillups, Andy Gross @argv0 (thanks for the intro James @wattersjames), Eric Redmond @coderoshi, Shanley Kane @shanley, Casey Rosenthal @caseyrosenthal and many others. Simply, I’m freaking stoked.

How This Helps You Help Me Help You

Alright, so it’s great but how can I help you in your day to day? What data do you work with? Do you work with a data scientist? Are you a data scientist? Do you work with huge sets of data, many objects, large objects? I want to know about your data usage and data problems, because there’s a good chance we’ll have more than few things to discuss. Here’s some ways I can help you, help me, help you. Ping me if you’re interested in…

  • talking about your data usage at the monthly Riak user group.
  • coding, pairing & otherwise learning Erlang and the monthly Erlang group.
  • interested in coding, deploying and inventing new paradigms and patterns of data storage.
  • interested in pairing up to learn how to deploy, migrate, upgrade or otherwise use NoSQL solutions – namely Riak.
  • interested in Ruby on Rails, Node.js, Map Reduce, .NET, Java, PHP and how these things can and do work against data in everything from relational databases to the new echelon of NoSQL databases.

I hope to hear from you soon and see you at an upcoming user group, cheers!

Ways to Interact Asynchronously with C#

NOTE: All of this code is available at my Github Project “Remembering” ( Feel free to fork it, share it, or send me corrections or pull requests.

While working on the Thor Project there have been numerous situations where I need to fire off an asynchronous callback in C# while maintaining good responsiveness in the actual user interface. Benjamin (@bvanderveen) has been using Reactive Extensions with subscriptions to do this in the Objective-C code for the Cocoa based OS-X Thor user interface. See my previous blog entry for an example of what he’s doing.

For a good example of asynchronous calls against Cloud Foundry I setup the following project using the Iron Foundry Project VCAP Client Library. The first thing I setup was a static class with a few constants to use across the examples for the URI, username and password for the Cloud Foundry Account.

[sourcecode language=”csharp”]
public static class YourSecrets
public const string Username = "";
public const string Password = "AnAwesom3HardPassw0rd!";
public const string Uri = "";

Next step was to setup the delegate and method I’d use for calling out to the Cloud Foundry environment and retrieving data in parallel to my active console or user interface. That code snippet looked like this. I also added a private variable _finished for use in tracking when the request was completed in the begin and end invoke example below.

[sourcecode language=”csharp”]
private bool _finished;

IEnumerable TheMethodToConnectThatWillTakeLongTime(string uri)
var client = new VcapClient(uri);
client.Login(TheSecretBits.YourSecrets.Username, TheSecretBits.YourSecrets.Password);

_finished = false;

return client.GetApplications();

delegate IEnumerable MethodDelegate(string uri);

Once I had that setup I was ready to create my baseline method that would make a synchronous call. A synchronous call is one that makes the call as if it just called the method directly. There’s no real reason to create one like I’ve done here, but I was just using it to provide a basic example of calling the delegate.

[sourcecode language=”csharp”]
public void SynchronousCall()
var starting = DateTime.Now.ToLongTimeString();

var delegateMethod = new MethodDelegate(TheMethodToConnectThatWillTakeLongTime);
var returnedBits = delegateMethod(TheSecretBits.YourSecrets.Uri);

var ending = DateTime.Now.ToLongTimeString();

Console.WriteLine(string.Format("The delegate call returned \n\n{0}\n\nstarting at {1} and

ending at {2} which takes a while of waiting.",
returnedBits, starting, ending));

_finished = false;

That gets us a baseline. If you run a synchronous call against anything with a console application or a windows app, WPF or whatever it will lock up the calling thread while it is waiting for a response. In any type of user interface that is unacceptable. One of the best options is to fire of an asynchronous callback. The way I did this, which is an ideal way to make calls with the Iron Foundry Client Library against a Cloud Foundry Environment, is shown below.

This is my asynchronous call.

[sourcecode language=”csharp”]
public void DemoCall()
var delegateMethod = new MethodDelegate(TheMethodToConnectThatWillTakeLongTime);

var callbackDelegate = new AsyncCallback(MyAsyncCallback);

Console.WriteLine(" starting…{0}", DateTime.Now.ToLongTimeString());
delegateMethod.BeginInvoke(TheSecretBits.YourSecrets.Uri, callbackDelegate, delegateMethod);
Console.WriteLine(" ending…{0}", DateTime.Now.ToLongTimeString());

Now the simple callback.

[sourcecode language=”csharp”]
public void MyAsyncCallback(IAsyncResult ar)
Console.WriteLine("Things happening, async state calling.");

var delegateMethod = (MethodDelegate)ar.AsyncState;

Console.WriteLine(" called…{0}", DateTime.Now.ToLongTimeString());

var returnedBits = delegateMethod.EndInvoke(ar);

Console.WriteLine(" end invoked…{0}", DateTime.Now.ToLongTimeString());

foreach (Application application in returnedBits)
Console.WriteLine("Application {0} is in {1} state…",
application.Name, application.State);
Console.WriteLine(" with {0} running instances, {1} memory per instance, {2} disk allocated…",
application.RunningInstances, application.Resources.Memory, application.Resources.Disk);
Console.Write(" hosted at ");
foreach (var uri in application.Uris)
Console.Write(uri + " ");

That’ll get the call running on a parallel thread and when it is wrapped up it returns the data.

The User Interface Interaction Issue

This is all fine and dandy for the command console. But if you want to give control back to the UI thread in a UI application and make sure that the background thread can actually update a control when fired off, do the same thing as I’ve discussed here except set the control up to invoke the dispatcher, so that the “threads don’t cross” when trying to return information to a control that needs updated. In order to do this take the control that needs updated and set the Dispatcher Invoke method as shown below.

[sourcecode language=”csharp”]
private void Write(string updateText)
new Action(delegate
UpdatingTextBlock.Text += updateText;

For more on the Iron Foundry Project and the library I’ve used here, check out the Iron Foundry Blog & Site. For more information on Thor and to follow or get involved check out the Thor Project Site (Hosted with Cloud Foundry at Tier 3!).

All of this code is available in my Github Project “Remembering” ( Feel free to fork it, share it, or send me corrections or pull requests.

In My Dreariness, I Installed Cloud Foundry and extended it with Iron Foundry


I put together a video late last night based on setting up a Cloud Foundry instance with Iron Foundry extensions. It’s a little long, since I’ve mostly *not edited* it. The instructions have been available for a while but I thought, why not make a video and publish it. In the very near future we’re going to start laying out specifics on how to install individual elements of Cloud Foundry and Iron Foundry. We’ll also be providing deeper detail of exactly what these parts do, what is needed, and how to scale a non-micro environment.

Cloud Foundry + Iron Foundry from Adron Hall on Vimeo.

Cloud Foundry + Iron Foundry for a full framework list of options. This video shows the steps to get a Cloud Foundry Micro instance up and running, then get an Iron Foundry instance up and running, connect them and then view a full list of frameworks.

NOTE: This video is barely edited, so it is a little long because everything is mostly done in real time.

This shows how easy this really is. If you’re using any other PaaS software, especially if you’re trying to setup local development environments, I’d love to hear about your processes and also any ideas on how we could make this process easier. In the near future I want to put together a video showing Stackato too. They have a nice offering to get a similar environment setup with more UI elements, making it a bit easier to keep track of all the applications and such.

How Software Should Get Done, Continually Delivering!

Tonight I spoke at the PADNUG Meetup in Hillsboro, a suburb of Portland, Oregon. The ladies and gentlemen of PADNUG are a great crew, so I actually go out of my way to the suburbs to speak there. Tonight was an exceptionally good experience with a great talk, lots of back and forth between everyone there and great conversations continued late into the night at the local suburban watering hole. All in all a good topic of conversation and one that needs brought to more teams.

Continuous Delivery

How does this fold into my work on PaaS (Platform as a Service) and IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)? Easy, with the cloud computing capabilities of PaaS and IaaS it makes continuous delivery a no brainer. At least 50% of the effort to get continuous delivery setup is already done with these technologies. Over the next few weeks I’ll be writing a lot about these technologies and the enablement of continuous delivery through these technologies. Just as important as the technology, I’ll also be talking about the processes, ideals and lean thinking that have birthed this tech.

In my presentation I covered a lot of these ideas and efforts. For now, here’s my slide deck with all the information to contact me. If you’d like me to pop into your town and present on these topics, just let me know and we’ll see about me getting onsite.

Coming up on the 20th I’ll be presenting some of this material plus a very hands on demo at the Software Craftsman’s meeting is Seattle titled “Coding in the Cloud, Kick Ass Continuously“. So if you live in the Seattle or are just in the area, drop in!