The blogs of Black Marble staff

Another seminar, this time on Web Applications

Today we ran our second spring seminar, this time on technologies to enable Web Business. As usual the white paper associated with the event can be found at Notes - Web Applications for Business.pdf

In the morning we discussed how ASP.NET, and specifically the new features in VS2005, can provide a very productive environment to develop both B2C and B2B systems. A special focus was made on how these tools can be used to create truly accessible web sites.

The afternoon focused on webservices, and was really an introduction to our final spring seminar on ways to best use data within an organisation. At this event we will be looking at Delivering Data using Web interfaces and managing data with Reporting Services and BizTalk. The event is free, go to to find out more.

Compiler Dev Lab last day

It is the last day and so far it has been a great ammount of fun. This morning the SQL team
came to discuss the implementation of the CLR in SQL Server 2005.
The most enjoyable part of the day was a round table discussion.


DevLab Tuesday Evening

Jeff Sanquist organised a BBQ which was a trailer in the car park (remember it is February Folks) manned by a Hairy Biker; it must be said there was a point where I thought Jeff had lost the plot, I should have had more faith, the food was great. When I ambled down to the lecture room Channel 9 had just started filming a chat. UPDATE the video is now on Channel9 I am lurking in the background of the video and show up on the still :):)


Dev Lab Tuesday

Today we started with a presentation on VSIP program,
Chris Lovett presented "Whidbey XML editor and language service framework",
the XML editor and XSL debugger (isn't Whidbey just great) are shipped as standard
and Chris showed how this was done.

One of the most interesting parts showed how Visual Studio provides both
colourization and intellisense services. One of the most surprising is that
the colourisation is only passed characters on the current line and it is
expected to remember the rest of the line.
As visual studio requires parsing every time the system changes, parsers
need to be fast (in reality can only be lexers).

Kieran Mockford who we all remember as giving some great demonstrations in the UK
over the last few years is now a program manager for MSBuild.
As you would expect Kieran's demonstrations were spot on. There was a lot of interesting facts
presented about whidbey and MSBuild but ...

A great presentation by Shon Katzenburger who is the technical lead on the C# compiler
team, on Implementing generics in your compiler, really made me think about Generic
inference rules. If you are planning to use generics make sure you understand the rules
of inference so you can guarantee which methods are available in the applicable method

Side Note You need to be careful when defining generics Struct G<T> { static G<G<T>> g;> will overflow the stack,
I guess I hadn't thought of even doing this due to the standard rule of don't be too clever when you are doing
a design, but it is useful to know.

Jim Hugunin presented on Dynamic Languages on the CLR, Jim started to produce Python on .NET to prove that .NET
did not work as well as other down grade runtimes :), however after proving to himself and others he was wrong he
now works in the CLR team helping others see the power of .NET.

Microsoft Compiler Dev Lab

I am over at Microsoft in Redmond attending a Compiler Dev lab.
Compiler developers for all sorts of interesting compilers are here producing Cobol, RPG, Eifel, Delphi and others.

The event is run under NDA, so there is unfortunately a large number of ommisions.

John Gough provided an overview of producing your first CLR compiler,
I have seen John Gough present before and I have read the book (no tee shirt just yet).
The presentation was very well done and he managed to cover a lot of material,
If you are interested in compilers in .NET read his book.

Jim Millar presented the "Rules of the CLS" which was a fully interactive
discussion on the published rules of the CLS. Members of several teams at
Microsoft CLR, Visual Basic, C# and C++ all contributed to the discussion :)


Trial Framework for Pervasive Mobile Games

Black Marble is developing a trial framework for the next generation of Pervasive Mobile games, with the University of Bradford and Microsoft UK. We will be blogging more about this in the new year.


... And Software Development for IT Managers

Richard presented a guide for IT managers and developers on current development methodologies including eXtreem programming, MSF and Scrum and pressed the point of why they are necessary even in a relatively small project.

I presented a guide for IT managers who don't necessarily have a development background on techniques on managing developers and on the other side of the fence a guide for developers on how to be managed.

The general audience feeling was that they could see the reasons for using development methodologies and after the talk most were considering the move.  During the talk on managing developers it was very noticeable the point at which the audience stopped laughing at the various anecdotes and instead realised that they were part of a problem that needed to be fixed. However, the most interesting point in the day was when more than half a dozen different groups approached me and complained that we had used internal information about their companies in the production of the talk and each were shocked that this was just the general state of small group software development.

Best Quote "We scored 4 out of 5 on each page in the Anti-Patterns of Developer Management"


The Manager's Essential Guide to IT Security...

Richard presented a comprehensive guide to network and server based security, I covered a detailed view on software security and Nick provided a series of impressive demonstrations on how it can affect web sites. The segment that hit home for most of the attendees was on Social Engineering and how despite the system measures put in place someone can still talk their way into a machine room. We also covered an overview of how to train staff on techniques to recognise when they are being targeted. if you would like an overview of the Security morning, drop us a line.