But it works on my PC!

The random thoughts of Richard Fennell on technology and software development

Request for help with PhD Research

Whilst at SC2009 today a request was made by Emad Ghoshen for attendees, and any other developers they knew, to assist him in his PhD research into maintainability of web applications.

He asked if people could download some Java/JSP code and answer a few questions on it, don't worry if this is not your usual languages this is one of the questions he is researching.

All the details can be found at http://www.sueblack.co.uk/clarosexp.html,

Intent is the key - thoughts on the way home form Software Craftsmanship 2009

Today has been interesting, I have been to conferences where you sit and listen, such as DDD, TechEd etc. I have been to conferences where everyone is encouraged to talk open spaces style such as Alt.Net, but today has fallen between the two styles.

The Software Craftsmanship 2009 conference has been in more of a workshop style; most sessions have started with a short presentation to set the scene then the attendees split to forms small groups to do some exercise or chat, reporting back later in the session. A sort of lead open spaces feel if you want.

As usual with events you need to let what you heard sink in, but I think it will be useful. Not so much in the 'I must do X to fix project Y' but in the general approach to development issues. This was a conference on craftsmanship, best practice in general not magic bullets. A good example was in the session on responsibility driven design with mock objects, where a good deal of time was spent discussing the important of variable/object names in the design. From this session you should not take away that 'View' is a bad name and 'Display' is a good one; but that the choice of the name is important to how you will view the intent of the test and the code you are writing.

I suppose this was the theme for the day, in development intent is key, why you do something is more critical than how. It is only through clear understanding of the intent of the business users that a developer can hope to design the best system. So often what the client asks for is based on what they think can be done and unless this requirement is challenged to get at the underlying intend the best solution (whatever best means to the project) will be missed. The same holds true with writing tests, it is vital that the test conveys the intent of what is being tested, else there is little hope for any future maintenance work when all the original staff have moved on. This means to me that the most important part of the user story is the 'so that they can' clause at the end, it is so often the window onto the truth of the real story intent behind the story.

So an excellent day all round, thanks to Jason Gorman and everyone else who helped to organise the event, I look forward to next years, and so should you if you are interested in your craft....

Do you need work item hierarchy in TFS?

Is so have a look at Notion Tools from Team System. This set of tools provides

  • A timesheet based on works items that you access inside Visual Studio
  • A work organizer  to manage work items and documents allowing creation of hierarchies
  • A work planner to help schedule resources for future iterations.

Well worth a look as a means to extend the reach of TFS into your Agile projects.

SLExtensions HTMLEditor

I have been looking at porting a old content editor I wrote from WinForm to SilverLight and hit the problem there was no HTML editor control available in the standard Silverlight 2 control set. Roll in the excellent SLExtensions controls on CodePlex, to save the day.....

Now I did hit one problem with the HTMLEditor, that was addressed very quickly in for support forums. The point to watch out for is that for the HTMLEditor control to work the Silverlight object must be loaded into the web page with the setting to be windowless

<object id="appId"  data="data:application/x-silverlight," type="application/x-silverlight-2" width="100%" height="100%" > 
    <!-- all the other parameters -->
    <param value="true" name="windowless"/>

If you just add the object with default settings to a new web page, or let Visual Studio generate a dynamic test page then this is not set. You end up rendering the editor but cannot enter text.

Hope this saves you some time.

Excellent selection of speakers at the May Progressive .NET Tutorials

You may have seen on a few blogs that Skills Matter are organising the Progressive .NET Tutorials, a 3 day event in May. I have to say that the selection of speakers is excellent including Hammett, Ayende Rahien, David Laribee, Gojko Adzic, Ian Cooper, Mike Hadlow, Scott Belware and Sebastien Lambla; on subjects such as NHibernate, Castle, Monorail, Agile Testing, Web Testing, DSL's in C#, OpenRasta, Windsor WCF, MEF (Microsoft's Managed Extensions Framework) and more...

For the full programme and description see http://skillsmatter.com/event/open-source-dot-net/progressive-dot-net-exchange. There is a massive discount available to blog readers for this May .NET workshops. If you were thinking of signing up, quote SM1368-622459-33L in the promo code field which allows you to book the workshops for £350 (normal ticket price is £1000).

Announcing the Alt.Net.UK 'in the North' Conference

I am please to be able to announce that there will be an Alt.net Open Space Conference in Bradford on the 17/18th April this year. I had mentioned my intension of organising such an event at the last London conference, but it has taken a bit longer than expected to get sorted due to problems with getting the venue.

The event will be hosted by Black Marble at their office in Bradford, West Yorkshire, and there will be space for 50 attendees. The format will be the same as previous UK Alt.net conferences.

  • A planning session on Friday the 17th April from 7pm to 8:30pm, followed by a trip to a bar to socialise
  • The open spaces sessions from 9am to 4:30pm on Saturday 18th April.

As well as providing a venue for the event, Black Marble has kindly agreed to also sponsor lunch on the Saturday.

Other offers of sponsorship will be greatly appreciated

I will get some more detail posted on the web such as registrations, local hotels etc. ASAP.  Check this blog for details [Update - See http://www.altdotnetuknorth.info/]

What is the conference format?
The conference will be based on the open spaces format.

An Open Space conference's agenda is decided upon by the conference participants during the opening of the event. Whoever shows up is the right group. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have. Whenever it starts is the right time. When it's over, it's over. 

What is Alt.Net?
Various blog posts have defined Alt.Net. Term originally coined by David Laribee on his blog.

Who are the organisers?
Richard Fennell, Iain Angus  and Nick McKenna

Black Marble is providing sponsorship and logistic support.