Interface-Based Design With Juval Lowy on ARCast.tv

by dboynton 6/26/2008 9:42:00 AM

For those of you who didn't get the memo, Ron Jacobs is no longer hosting the very popular Channel 9 show, ARCast. After spending a couple of years traveling the world talking to hundreds of practicing architects, Ron decided he needed a change and is now a Technical Evangelist in Redmond working with the WCF and WF teams.

Because of the popularity of ARCast worldwide, I and a small team of fellow architects from across the country have been working over the past several months to bring into being what we're calling, "ARCast 2.0." Instead of having one regular host on the show, any architect evangelist in the world that has a story to tell and is willing to sit down and record it can be the host of an ARCast episode.

We published the first official episode of ARCast 2.0 last week. My colleague and good friend Bob Familiar sat down with Simon Guest, Senior Director of the Platform Architecture Team at Microsoft, and had a great conversation about what his team does and what types of content and activities his team will have for the community in the future. If you haven't had a chance to watch the interview yet, you can watch it here.

And this week it's my turn.

A few weeks ago at TechEd Developer 2008, I had an opportunity to sit down in the TechEd Online "fishbowl" and have a conversation with Juval Lowy about his ideas concerning interface-based design in software. Any conversation that starts with, "Object-orientation has completely failed us," is going to be a good one.

You can watch the full ARCast video here:


ARCast.tv - Juval Lowy on Interface Based Design

If you never want to miss an episode of ARCast, then be sure to subscribe to the show's feed here. Please let me know what you think of the interview.

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Architecture | SOA | ARCast | Windows Communication Foundation

Follow-Up to Pluralsight Next Web Roadshow Event

by dboynton 6/18/2008 9:36:00 AM

I'd like to thank everyone who came to the Next Web Roadshow event we held in St. Louis last week. The turnout was phenomenal and, based on your feedback, it looks like the material was very useful and on topic.

As promised, our presenter, Mike Henderson, has posted a set of links to resources from his presentation.

For the sake of simplicity, I'm re-posting Mike's links here:

WPF Information:
MSDN WPF samples
Code Project's WPF Pages
Vista x64 Forums on WPF
XCeed's WPF Wiki
Kazaml

Good WPF-related Blogs:
Josh Smith
Mike Hillberg
Beatriz Costa
Tim Sneath 

Silverlight Information:
Silverlight splash screen + dynamic content sample
Silverlight.net 
Silverlight Cream 
MSDN Silverlight Dev Center
Silverlight 2 Controls Source Code

Good Silverlight Blogs:
Brad Abrams
Expression Design + Blend
Joe Stegman
Mike Harsh
Mike Taulty
Scott Guthrie

ASP.NET Information:
ASP.NET 
MSDN ASP.NET Code Gallery
123ASPX Index 
4 Guys From Rolla

Good ASP.NET Blogs:
DotNet Slackers
Scott Mitchell

Books:
Programming WPF 
Essential WPF 
Apps = Code + Markup 
Professional ASP.NET 3.5
ASP 2.0 Website Programming 
Essential ASP.NET

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Events | Silverlight | Windows Presentation Foundation

Aspiring Architect Series 2008 Starts June 16th

by dboynton 6/13/2008 6:42:37 PM

It never ceases to amaze me how contentious the very definition of "software architect" is. It really seems like something that should be very cut-and-dry, and yet a great deal of my energy at Microsoft TechEd Developer was spent discussing this very topic last week. In fact, I'm working on a series of articles on this subject as we speak which should be published online in the near future. And if it is that difficult for working architects to create a standard definition of their own role, imagine what it would be like for those aspiring architects out there.

In an effort to help those individuals who are aspiring to be architects better understand the role and the big topics in architecture today, there is a great series of webcasts starting next week that will provide a primer for moving into the role of the architect. In fact, much of the content in the series would work very well for many working architects out there as well. To get an idea of what you can expect, you can review last year's webcast series here.

Below is the schedule for this year's series as well as links to the registration sites for each:

June 16th, 2008 – 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. – Introduction to the aspiring architect Web Cast series
http://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032380836&Culture=en-CA

June 17th, 2008 – 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. – Services Oriented Architecture and Enterprise Service Bus – Beyond the hype
http://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032380838&Culture=en-CA

June 18th, 2008 – 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. – TOGAF and Zachman, a real-world perspective
http://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032380840&Culture=en-CA

June 19th, 2008 – 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. – Services Oriented Architecture (Web Cast in French)
http://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032380842&Culture=en-CA

June 20th, 2008 – 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. – Interoperability (Web Cast in French)
http://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032380844&Culture=fr-CA

June 23rd , 2008 – 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. – Realizing dynamic systems
http://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032380846&Culture=en-CA

June 24th, 2008 – 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. – Web 2.0, beyond the hype
http://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032380848&Culture=en-CA

June 25th, 2008 – 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. – Architecting for the user experience
http://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032380850&Culture=en-CA

June 26th, 2008 – 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. – Conclusion and next steps
http://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032380852&Culture=en-CA

 

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Software Development Meme

by dboynton 6/12/2008 2:14:00 PM

Brian Moore called me out on providing some answers to a few questions about how I got started in software development. Seeing as it's Brian that asked, I'm only too glad to oblige.

This post is actually the most recent in a thread of posts from different bloggers, essentially a blog-based chain letter with a purpose. And I can guarantee that you won't get ten years of bad luck if you don't respond.

Here is the stacktrace for this thread as it stands today:

Michael Eaton (post) —> Sarah Dutkiewicz (post) —> Jeff Blankenburg (post) —> Josh Holmes (post) —> Larry Clarkin (post) —> Brian Moore (post)

With that said, here's my contribution.

How old were you when you started programming?
PIC_0469I was thirteen. My friend next door got a Commodore VIC-20 for Christmas. After spending more time on it than him, I immediately began earning money to buy my own and, after a particularly lucrative garage sale in the summer of 1984, I went to Toys-R-Us and bought a Commodore 64. From that point on, most of my  free time was spent sitting at the keyboard copying programs from the popular computer magazines of the time and learning how to code by changing them to make them do what I wanted -- it was my first experience with extending third party software.

And by the way, I still proudly own my Commodore 64 and even pull it out for my kids sometimes when they start complaining about how slow their Internet access is.

What was your first language?
BASIC

What was the first real program you wrote?
This depends on your definition of "real." The first thing I ever wrote that did something, looked a little bit like this:

10 print "Denny is awesome";
20 goto 10

This, of course, had the expected output of printing "Denny is awesome" an infinite number of times, or at least until I hit the Run Stop key.

If that's not real enough, then I guess it would be a text-based adventure game I wrote called Despair Mountain. Inspired by Zork, I set about writing my own game in that same particular genre. I know this will be hard to believe, but I was a big Dungeons & Dragons nut when I was that age, so my game was set in fantasy-adventure universe. I had two major achievements from that particular development project:

  1. I managed to develop a calligraphy font for the UI before there were such things as fonts
  2. I wrote a very basic "fuzzy logic" algorithm for interpreting directions typed in by the user

I would hate to go back and run a cyclomatic complexity text on that app, but for that time in history and my level of inexperience, it wasn't bad.

What languages have you used since you started programming?
I cut my teeth on BASIC, both at home and what passed for a computer education course at my high school (we learned on the Apple IIe in class). When I started my professional career, I was writing in C and moved quickly into Perl, as I was doing a lot of web development work in the mid-nineties and Perl was preferred language at the time for CGI.

Around that same timeframe, I learned and developed in Java for awhile. I was really drawn by the promise of "write once, run anywhere" that Sun was making. Unfortunately, it didn't take long for me to recognize that it was all a pipe dream.

Disillusioned with Java, I picked up a copy of Visual Basic 5.0 and started writing software for Windows. While I was never crazy about the VB syntax, I soon discovered a new web technology Microsoft was touting called Active Server Pages that used VBScript as the primary language and that alone made it worthwhile. ASP changed the way I looked at software development in general. Sure, we look back and laugh at the simplistic model "classic" ASP provided, but in a world where CGI was the only option, ASP was an enormous evolutionary step forward in web development.

When .NET was released in 2001, I stuck with VB in the form of VB.NET for a month until I started playing with C# and just fell in love. To this day, I'm still a C# developer through-and-though and only go back to VB.NET when I have to.

What was your first professional programming gig?
I actually sold my first piece of software before I ever had a full-time job as a developer. A friend of mine at the time contacted me in February of 1996 with an opportunity to write an application that would produce web pages and associated CGI scripts that could tie users into a proprietary document management system. I developed a VB5 app, which I named Voyeur with tongue firmly planted in cheek, that let users start a new web project, customize the look and feel of the document and add custom search fields, content and logos. When the user published the project, it produced a web page reflecting their chosen layout and a corresponding Perl/CGI script that connected through a COM component to the back-end of the DMS.

For its day, it was pretty slick little application and I sold it to the document management company for a tidy sum.

If you knew then what you know now, would you have started programming?
Absolutely. In fact, I would have started earlier.

If there is one thing you learned along the way that you would tell new developers, what would it be?
Wow, nailing down one thing is going to be hard -- there's a lot of advise I would dispense to those just getting started.

I guess my advise would read like this: "Trust in God, but lock your car."

You'll be presented with many technological panaceas over the course of your career. It seems every year has another "If-You-Just-Use-This-Technology-Nothing-Will-Ever-Go-Wrong-Again" product line. The sad fact is that nothing of the sort really exists or will likely ever exist. Development tools, frameworks and platforms are like tools you keep in your work shop: Each one is very good at certain things and not so good at others. So be optimistic and open-minded, but also learn to develop a healthy sense of skepticism. Look at each technological advance you come into contact with and give it a thorough, objective examination before deciding whether or not you're going to use it.

And one more thing (yeah, I'm breaking the "one thing" mandate -- sue me):  Don't get emotionally attached to one specific technology or platform. The only thing that you can count on in this business is that things are going to change constantly, and if you're married to the wrong technology, you'll likely find yourself on the outside of things very quickly.

What's the most fun you've ever had ... programming?
Back in 1997, my wife and I owned and ISP in suburban Chicago. Our company web site was my first ASP project and was a wonderful learning experience. I was pretty new to the Windows platform and had a blast writing an application that would allow customers to sign-up for service and provision their personal web site and database account online. I can't ever remember a time when I had so much fun making so many mistakes -- I learned so much. Even when I first started working in .NET, I already knew a lot about the platform, so it was fun, but not as much as that first ASP project.

Who am I calling out?
This was a lot of fun. These are the kinds of questions I don't get very often and it was very enjoyable walking down memory lane. That being said, I'm going to tag the following friends and colleagues to continue the thread:

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From the Mouths of Babes

by dboynton 6/2/2008 11:24:25 PM

This afternoon, I attended career day at my daughter, Josephine's, school.

Now, I've spoken all over the country in front of audiences large and small, but I'll tell you this: There are few more intimidating audiences than 40 or so fifth graders. That being said, I came prepared.

I started my session by trying to explain what Microsoft does. I held up a picture of BillG and asked the group if they knew who that was. Scattered hands went up and we eventually got that part right. Then I reached into my bag and pulled out my Master Chief helmet and asked if they knew who that was and, not surprisingly, they got it on the first try. "Sweet," I thought, "I've got them in the palm of my hand now."

And indeed it seemed that way for the next 10 minutes. I answered more questions about Xbox, Wii and Playstation than I thought there were in the known universe. I even gently explained why Microsoft won't be producing an Xbox for the Wii.

As I was preparing to wrap up the Q&A, I picked a young lady in the front row who looked me straight in the eye and asked:

Isn't Linux better than Windows?

Like an underpaid, under-appreciated vaudevillian actor, I actually did a double-take and said, "Excuse me?"

"It's just that I think Linux is better than Windows and I'm wondering why you think it isn't."

Needless to say, I was not exactly prepared for this. I mean, I discuss the merits of Linux and Windows all the time, just not with eleven-year-olds. I answered her question by saying I didn't necessarily think that Windows was better than Linux, but that they were both operating systems and each had specific strengths and weaknesses, and that it really depended on what you were looking to do. That seemed to satisfy her, but she concluded by saying, "I still like Linux better." I absolutely failed as an evangelist in this instance, but in all fairness, she did ambush me.

This really got me thinking about the younger generation and their ubiquitous connection with technology. We hear about this all the time. In fact, the one major argument I've had with my oldest daughter, Zoe, in the past few months has been whether she's old enough to have her own mySpace page ("But Daaaaaaad, all my friend have one!"). Both of my oldest daughters have cell phones and the idea that mobile phones used to be carried in bags and had batteries that lasted 20 minutes carries the same level of incredulity as when I showed them the video games I used to play on my Atari 2600. Even my six-year-old, Gwynneth, can play most Nintendo DS games far better than I can and even laughs at my eventual failure each time we play.

But this question was different. Here was an eleven-year-old child that already had a preferred operating system, and challenged me to explain the major advantages of one platform over another. She was alone in this group of kids, but a 1:40 ratio of kids with deep technical knowledge to kids who think software is just about video games is a pretty significant part of the American population and worth noting.

As kids become more discontented with just experiencing technology, they are going to start looking for ways they can become a participant in it, and this is going to lead them to start exploring platforms and the tools available to develop software for these platforms. Because they will have had so much exposure to technology growing up and the ability to learn and build new software will be so available to them, they will have no fear as they approach new problems that require innovative, creative solutions.

There is a post I've been working on for some time now, inspired by Zain Naboulsi, about Second Life and the impact it can have on interpersonal relationships. The holdup in finishing and publishing that post has been that I needed to get deeper into that experience to prove out some theories I had about it. What I've found is fascinating.

When letting my kids ride "shotgun" with me in Second Life, they seem to form connections with the other avatars I interact with in the virtual world. One example that comes to mind is when I walked away from someone I was conversing with in the middle of their sentence. My kids actually admonished me for being "rude" to the other "person." This, I think, shows the connection that our children have with technology that perhaps we, as adults, do not. I see a screen where my momentary rudeness to another virtual being is not even worth noticing. But, to my kids, that was equivalent to turning around and walking away from someone I was speaking to in "meatspace," and that, therefore, is rude.

This is the thing we need to really understand about this younger generation. The lines between personal and virtual relationships are going to melt away. I want to believe that machines will never replace real, interactive human contact, but that may be because that is the the world I've grown in. My children live in a world where they can befriend digital representations of real people half-way around the world and it is as real as if they lived next door. The text messages that they send and receive can carry as much value as a personal conversation over coffee does to us "older folk." And a mySpace page can be the difference between social success and failure.

So here's what I learned at school today: Don't underestimate kids and their depth of understand when it comes to technology. They are living in it now and will drive the direction it takes in the future.

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Denny Boynton Denny Boynton
Microsoft Architect Evangelist by day, wannabe rock 'n roll star by night! Want more? Here's my bio.

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