Tuesday, June 23, 2009

NDC 2009 Highlights

The Norwegian Developers Conference 2009 took place in Oslo last week and I was lucky enough to be one of the around 1000 attendees. That’s about half the crowd the organizer was hoping for, but I guess we’ll have to blame the ongoing financial turbulence for that. It was definitely not due to the speaker list, because that was straight out impressing. And the pricing seemed very reasonable too. Or maybe calling it the Norwegian Developers Conference scared away any foreigners? I don’t know, but those who weren’t there really missed out on a great event.Photo by Rune Grothaug

I’ll try to summarize some of my thoughts and impressions from this 3 day conference in this post, so let’s start with the most important part; the sessions. Most of the sessions was taped and will be available online in the (hopefully) near future. I had already studied the agenda in detail before I went, but as always when attending conferences like this; the plan was due to change. But I’ll try to list some of my favorite sessions from the conference and I really recommend taking a look at these when they come online. So here’s my top 5 in descending order;

1. Michael Feathers: “Working Effectively with the Legacy Code: Taming the Wild Code Base”

I’ve watched a couple of talks by Feathers up on InfoQ and he’s a really skilled speaker as well as writer. I haven’t had time to read his book “Working Effectively with the Legacy Code” yet, but it’s definitely one I will pick up soon. The talk was great and he had lots of good tips if you’re faced with a codebase that is not built to be testable.

2. Kevlin Henney: “The Uncertainty Principle”

On day 3 of NDC my original plan was to attend Scott Bellware’s whole day workshop on testing, but I was too late for the registration so the workshop filled up before I got to sign up. Instead I spend the whole day with Kevlin, which really was a great alternative. I was lucky enough to get to hear him doing a talk here in Trondheim about a month prior to the conference, so I knew that this was going to be good. Kevlin has done some great work on design patterns and his talks are both informative and entertaining. I really recommend all of his talks, but if I were to pick one favorite I’d go for “The uncertainty principle”.

3. Glenn Block: “Building Maintainable Enterprise Applications with Silverlight and WPF”

I’m a big fan of the PRISM and we’re using it on our current project. The talk was mainly about PRISM, but he also had some great tips on how to ease some of the pain in regards to databinding the ViewModel to the View. Now, don’t get me wrong here; I love databinding in WPF, but there’s some pain points regarding refactoring when it comes to the string-based databinding against properties in the ViewModel. Glenn showed off some interesting tools that he’s working on to make this easier, and it will be up on CodePlex in not so long (I hope!). The essence of the tool was that if you name your controls in the View the same as the corresponding property in the ViewModel, and then it could perform an auto-mapping between the View and ViewModel. Anyway; it was a great talk and I got some valuable tips to take with me. Unfortunately this was one of the none-taped sessions, so this will not be available online as far as I know.

4. Udi Dahan: “Designing High Performance, Persistent Domain Models”

Design patterns are in many ways lessons learned over the mere 50 years of developing software. PRISM is, among other things, a set of design patterns to apply if you’re building composite applications and is focused mainly on the presentation layer. Domain-driven design on the other hand are design patterns that focus on the core of the business; the domain model. Udi gave an excellent talk on the performance perspective of DDD.

5. Peter Provost: “Code First Analysis and Design with Visual Studio Team System 2010 Arch Ed Microsoft Visual”

It’s just amazing to see what the architect edition of VS10 contains and I really look forward to some of the features that Peter showed off here. He’s a joy to listen to and it just reeks knowledge of this guy. If you like a quick tour of VS10 architect edition and see how you can read code in a new dimension, I highly recommend this session.

Runners Up

Photo by Rune Grothaug Other memorable sessions to watch will be the .NET Rocks! episode recorded live [Update: Download the podcast here]. As always hosted by the Hardy & Hardy of the .Net community, Carl Franklin and Richard Campbell, and this time they had invited the HaaHa Brothers (Scott Hanselman and Phil Haack) to do a show. And what a show! Porn, beer and Bing – I say no more…

And the HaaHa Brothers show was also a blast. Haack showed some nice tricks to hack Hanselman’s “secure” bank application and the two of them just put together a great show. Put Hanselman on stage and you’re guaranteed a good time!

If you’re into DDD you’ll also find Jimmy Nilsson’s sessions quit interesting. Among other things he showed how one could use the upcoming Entity Framework 4 as the O/R-mapper in a DDD scenario. The way he turned user stories into BDD-ish unit tests was also quit interesting and definitely something I will try out myself.

The social side of it

Going to conferences like this is off course not only about the talks and the technical stuff. The social aspect of it is also a great part of it, and the NDC organizers had really put a lot of effort into making that part as equally successful as the technical side. The geek beer on Wednesday started off with an unforgettable jam session with Carl Franklin and Roy Osherove. Anyone who’s attended one of Roy’s talks knows that he has some amusing “alternative lyrics” on familiar songs. But what most people might not know is that Carl Franklin is a fantastic guitar player with an impressive voice. Where can we get your CD, Mr Franklin? Great gig! [UPDATE: Some guys from TypeMock recorded the jam session and they’ve published some clips here]

After a couple of beers we headed towards the city and some place to eat. Scott Hanselman’s got this ‘thing’ where he just got to dig up an Ethiopian restaurant in every city he visits. And so we joined Hanselman, Phil Haack, and some other guys for an exotic dinner at Mama Africa. Scott and Phil are just some incredibly nice guys and it was a memorable dinner – both the food and the company :)

The Big Party started with a decent dinner on Thursday evening. I mean; you really don’t expect much when you sit down with a cardboard plate filled with some sort of Photo by Rune Grothaugstew’ish dinner at a conference like this, but it really wasn’t that bad this time. And as the dinner had sunk in and the beer was starting to function, Datarock entered the stage. I must admit that electronica is not my favorite genre, but the performance that Datarock delivered was impressive. And how could you possibly go wrong with lyrics like this at NDC?

I ran into her on computer camp
(Was that in 84?)
Not sure
I had my commodore 64
Had to score

-- Datarock, Computer Camp Love

And after the Datarock concert we headed up to the geek bar. Loveshack had tuned in some never-dying 80ies classics that really got the geeks rocking. Great show!

Once again I was impressed that some of the speakers choose to hang out with us mere mortals. Phil Haack, Peter Provost, Scott Bellware, and Udi Dahan were all hanging around and took the time to socialize. Much appreciated!

Photo by Rune Grothaug

A picture speaks more than the 1332 words on this page; NDC 2009 was just a big smile! Too bad it’s a whole year ‘till next time…


Anonymous said...

I wouldn't call DataRock "electronica". ;) However, they were still a lot of fun. It was nice meeting you and thanks for the great write-up.

Kjetil Klaussen said...

Well, I guess that just makes my point then; DataRock ain't in my "recent played" list very often... It might be data, but it ain't rock :)

Anyway; thanks for the comment and it sure was a nice event. Bing!

Mo Sparrow said...

FYI - the video of Roy's and Carl's song will be available on Typemock’s blog next week, in the meantime you can check out the pics…



Kjetil Klaussen said...

Great! I'll update the post as soon as the videos are available.